Pretoria: 16 November 2017
A group of South Africans sailing the Indian Ocean parallel the coastline of Mozambique are counting their lucky stars after their yacht ran into difficulties on Thursday morning and sank shortly after they were rescued.
The incident involving the yacht named ‘Kinda Magic’ with four occupants on board was confirmed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, which picked up a distress signal from the yacht early on Thursday morning and immediately scrambled a rescue effort through calls to vessels sailing in the vicinity.
In a report on Thursday, the MRCC said four occupants of the yacht – all South African but whose personal identities are known but yet to be officially released – were soon plucked from their life raft by a passing oil/chemical tanker, the Panama registered MT Mersini, after they had abandoned the yacht; and are currently en route to the Comores.
According to ship tracking website, maritimetraffic.com, the MT Mersini, owned by the Mersini Shipping Company, was sailing from Durban on its way to the Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates.
In Cape Town on Thursday, the MRCC said the centre had picked up a distress call from the South African yacht, ‘Kinda Magic’, at approximately 06:50 on Thursday morning while the yacht was sailing the Indian Ocean, some 215 km off the coast of Ilha Do Fogo and approximately 175 km directly from shore in the Mozambique channel.
“The distress notification was received by means of an EPIRB (a vessel distress beacon) activation and relayed by means of the COSPAS-SARSAT Systems (the Satellite Search and Rescue system which is part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).
“MRCC Cape Town immediately responded to the distress notification, with further investigation indicating that the yacht was in the process of sinking. After identifying vessels that might be diverted to assist, the vessel “MT MERSINI” was contacted through Maritime Radio, based in Cape Town, and requested to divert course to the assistance of the distressed yacht.
“The vessel’s Master complied with the request and also confirmed the nature of distress as it was also received on VHF radio transmission. The vessel arrived on-scene at 08:43 local time on 16 November 2017 and all four of the crew were rescued. It was reported that they were all in good health and had sustained no injuries.
“The rescue vessel, the “MT MERSINI”, is currently en-route to port of Moroni, in Comores. The yacht sank. All emergency broadcasts, as was issued by MRCC through Maritime Radio, were cancelled.”
The Western Cape based rescue coordination centre also confirmed that regional authorities of Mozambique, Madagascar and the Comores were alerted and informed of the incident and subsequent rescue, while the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was also brought on board in order to facilitate the repatriation of the South African sailors.
The centre expressed appreciation for the role played by the rescue vessel. “The contribution of the “MT MERSINI” , her Captain, and crew in the saving of the South African lives is greatly appreciated. The progress of the rescue vessel, and the status of the survivors, shall be monitored until arrival at its destination,” said the centre.
***Please note that this is article has since been updated to also reflect on the health condition of the rescued sailors.