This report was received from Deon Langenhoven, NSRI Hermanus Station Commander, who said:
At 19h30, Thursday, 27 September, NSRI Hermanus and NSRI Agulhas duty crews were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following a Mayday distress VHF radio call, intercepted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services, made from the yacht ‘Silver Girl’, sailing in the Mossel Bay yacht race, from Simonstown to Mossel Bay, reporting their skipper, Melvin Rautenbach, fallen overboard after their yacht was struck by a wave off-shore of Quoin Point, between Gansbaai and Agulhas, 10 nautical miles off-shore.
Telkom Maritime Radio Services relayed the Mayday distress call alerting all vessels in the area to be on alert and MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) and TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) were alerted.
The NSRI Hermanus sea rescue craft ‘South Star’ and the NSRI Agulhas sea rescue craft ‘Spirit of Agulhas’ were launched and on arrival on the scene an extensive search for the missing sailor, in rough sea conditions with a 25 knot West North Westerly wind and 5 metre swells, continued into the early hours of Friday.
The casualty yacht suffered a damaged tiller arm sustained when the yacht was reportedly broadsided by a wave and failing battery power caused motor mechanical failure and the crew onboard remained adrift at sea and in no imminent danger while NSRI continued a search.
Despite an extensive search, no sign of the missing skipper has been found.
Sea conditions grew increasingly unfavourable as the search progressed and sea swells exceeded 6 metres.
RCYC (Royal Cape Yacht Club) members are assisting with the support of Melvin’s wife, Shama Nathoo, at her home in Cape Town.
During the early hours of Friday morning the search was suspended and NSRI Hermanus are towing the casualty craft to Hermanus harbour and the Police Dive Unit and NSRI ASR (Air Sea Rescue) have been placed on alert.
Telkom Maritime Radio Services continue to broadcast a Pan Pan VHF radio message to alert vessels in the area to keep watch and all options continue to be investigated.
NSRI, Maritime Authorities, the MBR2018 (Mossel Bay yacht race) committee and fellow race yacht crews thoughts are with the family of the missing sailor in this difficult time.