Friday, November 09, 2007

Surfers to the rescue

One usually does not thinking surfers as life savers, but here's a heart warming story by David MacGregor from the DispatchOnline of South Africa shows just that two young surfers had indeed rescued two lives with the help of their surfboards.

TWO Port Alfred surfers went to the rescue yesterday after monster waves off the Kowie River mouth threw two people off a deep-sea fishing boat as it left the port.

Surfers Daniel Patterson and Marc Radloff, both 19, dragged student, Louis Thick, 19, and local township fisherman George Matinyela, 65, onto their surfboards and paddled safely to the beach.

Both men said they were “lucky to be alive”. Neither was injured but both were treated on the beach for shock by local National Sea Rescue Institute volunteers.

Minutes after being rescued, a soaking Matinyela said although he had worked for years as a “boat gillie” he was reluctant to go back out to sea again.

“I thought I was going to die … luckily there were two surfers nearby and they rescued us. I thank God I am alive.”

Patterson said the men were thrown from the 26-foot long Sea Breeze charter boat when it tried to outrun massive swells and was sideswiped by two breaking waves.

Both appeared “very panicked”.

“They were both wearing life jackets, but this did not seem to help much. They both looked like they could not swim much. The old guy was struggling from being weighed down by several layers of wet clothing and the young guy looked very scared,” he said.

The boat’s skipper, Danny Vermaak, could do little to help as he was busy trying to negotiate his boat through the raging surf.

Radloff said: “The men were thrown off by the first wave … the boat almost capsized a second time when it was hit by another wave. The skipper turned towards the open sea and raced to safety, leaving the men behind.”

The other man rescued, who is an Educational Institute for Service Studies student in Port Alfred, said he had chartered a deep-sea fishing trip with a friend when the disaster struck.

I am both encouraged and surprised by the comment "They were both wearing life jackets, but this did not seem to help much." I am inclined to think that life jacket can only help if the surfers were not nearby.

It appears that it all happened rapidly, after the rescue their fishing boat was still waiting beyond the breakers according to the report. I guess no one would be surprised to hear that Mr. Matinyela said: "Eishhh, I don't think I want to fish today!" Who can blame him?

I think the fishing boat should be commended for making certain that everyone wears life jackets onboard.


Anonymous said...

Obviously, the life jackets helped a lot. imagine if they were not wearing life jackets!

Anonymous said...

Try and duck dive with a panic stricken person on your board in massive swell who is wearing a life jacket! Not such a great experience!