I rushed to the area to investigate and informed the KwaDukuza Municipal lifeguards (KDM Lifesavers) and put my team, Specialised Rescue, on standby. On arriving at the best possible viewpoint I noted that the craft was approximately 1.5 nautical miles offshore and seemed to be upside down (turtled). The caller said that they had been in this position for almost 40min.
I was aware of a Hobie Cat yacht race that was taking place between Durban and Richards Bay, so we tried to reach the officials as they usually have their own safety vessels on the water to deal with these common issues.
All the while I monitored the crew of the "turtled' Hobie Cat through binoculars from my vantage point and saw that they were in no immediate danger. While I waited for a response from the race officials I noted that the KDM Lifesavers had their craft on the beach, so I sent them out to the vessel to assist in the meantime.
Soon after that we received a message that the race safety vessel was in the Tugela area, which would mean that assistance from them would take too long, they asked us to assist in righting and beaching the Hobie at the nearest safe access point and said that they would send a ground crew to assist.
The lifeguard supervisor joined me at the vantage point and we decided that Tinley manor was the best point to beach the yacht. By now the calls were streaming in from everywhere from concerned people about the upside down craft.
The lifeguard supervisor updated his crew about the plan, while my team, Specialised Rescue, would stand by. Should they have any difficulty in righting the craft we would launch our rescue craft and assist.
After almost 35 minutes we decided to mobilise our craft and SRU rescue2 was launched and the lifeguards also launched another one of their craft.
On arrival at the distressed vessel we found that their mast had taken on a considerable amount of water due to the length of time they had been capsized for. The crew rigged a righting rope and we attached it to one of the KDM lifeguard crafts, the other one stood by for safety with SRU rescue2, while I entered the water to assist the crew from the yacht to right it. Upon righting the Hobie Cat we discovered a hole in one of the hulls, which would start taking on water. We hydrated the crew of the vessel, their water was in the hatch underwater the whole time - estimated to be almost 3hrs and it was still quite humid.
One of the rescue boats was sent ahead to mark the beaching point and to put out a line so the craft could be towed up the beach. The two crew members of the Hobie Cat and I prepared the craft for beaching while sailing it towards Tinley Manor.
At this stage the wind was gusting and even with the main sail down we were travelling fast. On arriving at Tinley Manor we found we had enough wind and boat speed to sail up the beach safely, a good thing because the towline had drifted towards the rocks and that would not have been a good place to end up.
Once beached the Hobie was pulled well clear of the surf and the crew started to pack it away. It was now close to four thirty, the lifeguards returned to Salt Rock and after making sure everything was in order I swam out to SRU Rescue2 and returned to the launch site.
Once our rescue craft was back on our trailer, the Specialised Rescue team returned to Tinley Manor to assist with the dismantling and loading of the Hobie Cat. The operation ended around a quarter past six.
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