Pretoria: 25 October 2017
High alertness and fast action have been attributed as key to the reaction of the crew of the SA Agulhas that saved the life of a crew member on Tuesday night after the sailor had taken seriously ill while the vessel was out at sea on its way from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town harbour.
According to an incident report filed by the vessel’s crew on Wednesday, the young sailor had taken ill while the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel was sailing south west on the Indian Ocean, at position 34-24S 022-06E, about 13 nautical miles off the coast of Cape St Blaize south of Mossel Bay.
The report said the ill-disposed crew member was believed to have suffered a severe diabetic attack that led to vomiting, weak respiration and a low consciousness responsiveness.
Sea sailing conditions at the time were characterized broadly by relatively calm ocean waters featuring an easterly breeze blowing at about three knots per hour and waves of about two meters in height in a south westerly direction.
According to the report, the SA Agulhas team on spotting the sick sailor, immediately alerted the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) operated Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town for assistance.
The MRCC responded by ordering the vessel to turn around and head towards Mossel Bay, while onshore medical assistance was being activated through the Mossel Bay Port Control as well as the National Sea Rescue Institute. Medical advice was provided by the METRO EMS duty doctor.
The SA Agulhas eventually rendezvoused with a NSRI rescue craft in the bay just after midnight on Tuesday night. A medic was onboard the rescue boat to take care of the sick crew member who was successfully transferred ashore to a waiting ambulance.
The 21 year old patient from Cape Town was taken to a hospital in the coastal town. He’d joined the SA Agulhas crew earlier this year.
Early on Wednesday, the SA Agulhas reported being back on course on its way to Cape Town.