S.A, Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated following reports of a rubber-duck with 3 men onboard, while underway under motor power on the water, struck by a breaching whale off-shore of Wild Side in the vicinity of Noordhoek.
“It appears that the incident happened just after 18h00.
“Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer IV and responded while land based NSRI rescue crews responded by road and EC Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Guardmed ambulance services, 24/7 ambulance services and the SA Police Services responded.
“On arrival on-scene a search commenced for the boat in dark moonless conditions and using illuminating flares to aid in the search the boat was found about 1 nautical mile off-shore with all three men clinging onto the hull.
“All three men, wearing wet-suits, appeared at that stage to have sustained injuries and they were rescued onto our sea rescue craft and brought to the Noordhoek ski-boat club slipway where ambulance personnel were standing-by.
“Paramedics assessed the three males, a 41 year old male sustained suspected rib fractures, an arm injury and a leg injury, soft tissue injuries, and was transported to hospital by ambulance in a stable but serious condition and he is expected to fully recover from his injuries.
A 25 year old male, sustained soft tissue injuries to his arm, and was also transported to hospital by ambulance in a stable condition and a 35 year old male sustained minor injuries and was not transported to hospital at his request.
“The NSRI sea rescue craft returned to the scene and towed the rubber-duck to the beach at Noordhoek ski-boat club where it has been recovered and examined. The boat has sustained extensive damage.
“Illuminating flares were used by NSRI rescuers to aid getting the casualty boat ashore in the dark conditions.
“The men claim they were motoring slowly approximately a kilometer off-shore when a whale breached in front of their boat and came (landed) onto their boat causing the boat and all three men to go under water as the whale sunk back into the water. The boat subsequently popped up out of the water in an upright position.
They all managed to swim to the the boat but were not able to reach the safety tube (a capsize kit containing emergency equipment) because of extensive damage to the center console where equipment is housed.
“One cell-phone still worked and they called the boats owner who raised the alarm. It appears that some time lapsed before they were able to call the owner to raise the alarm.
“The species of the whale is unknown to the three men but they say it was large. NSRI are aware that a number of Humpback whales have been seen breaching outside the Bay during today but this cannot confirm that the incident involved a Humpback whale.”
UPDATE: The boat popped out of the water in the capsized position. The three men, after much effort, managed to right the craft, 2 life-jackets and the capsized kit had been lost in the ordeal.
This effort to right the craft appears to be what led to the delay in the men being able to raise the alarm.
The three men are Albertus Myburgh, 41, Wouter van Heerden, 25, and skipper Rodney van der Mecht, 35.
The picture is of a breaching whale on a sailing boat two years ago near the coast of S.A.