A boat ferrying international tourists capsized near Knysna Heads on Wednesday, and a rescue mission had to be activated immediately to retrieve people from the water. Restaurant staff at East Head Café in Knysna witnessed a boat capsizing just north of Island Rock and contacted National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) for assistance.
Sea conditions were rough, with swells of between 3-4 metres high when the incident occurred.
NSRI responded immediately, dispatching 3 sea rescue crafts within seven minutes. Doctors, ambulances, WC Government Health EMS, SA Police Services, Knysna Fire and Rescue Services and SA National Park rangers were also activated to assist in the rescue.
The capsized boat was a 8.9m long inflatable boat named Moonraker, owned by Knysna Rib Adventures. Eleven people ended up in the icy cold water, but were brought safely back to shore. NSRI medical crew and doctors triaged patients, and only two needed medical care.
A husband and wife, visiting South Africa from the Netherlands, were treated for non-fatal drowning symptoms. The husband was transported to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure, as it was discovered that he suffered from a pre-existing medical condition.
“The remaining 8 tourists and the local skipper, are not injured, and the 8 tourists have been transported to their various respective lodgings in Knysna,” NSRI said. “The casualty boat has not been recovered and remains in rough waters at the Western side of Knysna Heads.”
“Once sea conditions are favourable the owners will investigate recovery of the casualty boat,” NSRI added. “SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) will investigate the capsizing.”