Rather than catching fish, two fishermen were caught by the Cape currents. On April 2 of this year, the duo, aged 19 and 27, were swept off the rocks at Rooi Els in the Western Cape. The incident happened in the early hours of the morning, just after 7am.
Fortunately, the drowning men weren’t completely out of luck. A local NSRI Coastwatcher alerted three local Samaritans of the reported drowning in progress. The three rescuers were set out for a morning filled with Cray fishing.
Putting on their superhero pants and showcasing the true spirit of our community, the three men didn’t hesitate. They grabbed an NSRI Pink Rescue Buoy and launched their RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) to kick off the rescue, which was only made more difficult by strong winds and choppy waves.
Thanks to their bravery and years of boating experience, the two fisherman were rescued from their near drowning just in time (they had both reached a hypothermic condition due to the freezing Cape waters).
William Boltmann, Richard Boltmann and Francois Koekemoer are heroes in their own right. Richard was at helm, and William was responsible for getting the two casualties into the boat. Francois fetched the Pink Rescue Buoy at the Rooi Els slip before their boat was launched.
In the strong winds, the men struggled to throw the Pink Rescue Buoy, so William had to enter the rough seas twice.
Armed with the Pink Rescue Buoy, he was able to pass the Buoy to one of the casualties, who was then rescued onto the boat. William then swam the rescue buoy to the second casualty.
Both men were successfully rescued under trying conditions because of excellent seamanship and solid teamwork from William, Richard and Francois.
“If we didn’t have the Pink Rescue Buoy, the rescue would have been way more difficult, and we would have really put ourselves at risk,” added William.
“You would never think that a small Rescue Buoy like that could actually give the guy’s hope, because a minute or two later, they would have gone down,” said Richard.
“We raced back to the slipway where the NSRI and paramedics were on standby,” added William.
The casualties, both from Kuils River, Cape Town, were treated for non-fatal drowning symptoms and for hypothermia.
The NSRI awarded William, Richard and Francois on World Drowning Prevention Day, July 25 2021, commending the swift action of the three brave men, who together contributed to saving the lives of the two casualties.
Pink is for buoys
The Pink Rescue Buoys are part of a lifesaving water safety initiative by the NSRI. The distinctive pink colouring of the rescue buoy is designed to stand out in the water and provide emergency flotation.
The buoys, which conform to the AUNZ standard of 100 Newtons of flotation, are hung on strategically placed signs, and the NSRI said it hoped that the devices will remind people to take care when entering water.
To date, the NSRI’s public rescue devices have been used to rescue 77 people with no harm to a rescuer, and all rescues that were attempted were successful. Currently, there are over 1000 Pink Rescue Buoys deployed around South Africa.
“The Rescue Buoys are bright pink so that they can be easily spotted on the water by responding emergency services. There is also a unique location number on the signpost so that crucial minutes can be saved for emergency services to help those in danger of drowning,” says Jill Fortuin, NSRI Executive Director of Drowning Prevention.
“If you ever see someone in danger of drowning, think: “pink is for buoys.” Find the Pink Rescue Buoy, throw it into the water, help the person to float, save a life. You’ll find our buoys at beaches along the coast, inland dams and rivers right across South Africa. But please remember that a stolen buoy could be a stolen life.”
Fortuin also urged water users to immediately call the emergency numbers on the Pink Rescue Buoy sign or 112 from their cell phone for help if someone is in danger of drowning. This rescue wouldn’t have been possible without the support of donors. Sponsor a Pink Rescue Buoy.
You can save lives too by sponsoring a Pink Rescue Buoy for a community in need at a cost of R1500 per buoy or by supporting the NSRI’s drowning prevention initiatives. You can see the various ways to donate HERE.