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10 December 2011

St Helena Tragedy

Image: The upturned hull of the missing St Helena Bay fishing boat. Picture NSRI

ST HELENA BAY THURSDAY 08th DECEMBER 2011 Fishing boat capsizes:


The capsized casualty craft was found half a mile off St Helena Bay and all four fishermen are from Mamre, Atlantis.The skipper, Rundolf Hendricks is 29.

The two deceased men, whose bodies were recovered are aged 58 and 45. The missing mans age is believed to be in his early sixties and he is presumed to have drowned. The name of the missing man and the names of the two deceased men have not been released. While it remains unknown if the missing man was wearing a life-jacket it is strongly suspected that he was not.

Their 4 meter ‘crayfish bakkie’ named GAPPIE remains afloat at sea and has not been recovered yet.

A SA Air Force 35 Squadron Dakota fixed wing aircraft joined in todays search flying an aerial circuit search pattern to assist sea rescue craft and shore crews in the search for the missing man.

Command of the ongoing search operation has been handed over to the Police Dive Unit.


At 11h23 NSRI Mykonos duty crew were called out following reports of a 4 meter crayfish boat, overdue from fishing at St Helena Bay, North of Saldanha Bay.

They were reportedly due to return from fishing at around 10h00 and after they failed to return and after cellphone contact with the fishermen could not be made the alarm was raised.

Our volunteers towed the sea rescue boat GEMINI RESCUER II to be launched on scene and local fishing boats and the SA Police Services, a Metro EMS ambulance and a Metro EMS rescue squad responded and joined in the search for the missing men and their boat.

A SA Air Force 35 Squadron Dakota fixed wing aircraft at Air Force Base Langebaanweg was placed on high alert.

Conditions are gusting to 40 knot winds and 2 to 3 meter rough and choppy sea swells.

During the search the local fishing boat BIG JOHN came across the upturned hull of the missing boat and found the skipper of the capsized boat clinging to the hull.

The crew of BIG JOHN rescued the skipper and brought him safely ashore where Metro EMS paramedics treated the local man for shock.
During the search for the remaining three missing fishermen NSRI rescue swimmers were sent into the water to free dive under the capsized boat where they searched amongst entangled fishing nets and general boat debris and found and recovered two of the missing fishermen’s bodies that were trapped in the fishing nets.

Their bodies have been brought to shore and handed into the care of the SA Police Services and the Forensic Pathology Services.

An extensive search is continuing for the one remaining missing fisherman and a Police Dive Unit have joined in the search. It is not known what caused the fishing boat to capsize and the SA Police Service have opened an inquest docket and SAMSA have been alerted and will begin investigations.

All of the men are believed to be from St Helena Bay and Police Counsellors are attending to the families of the two deceased fishermen and of the one missing fisherman.

Sea Rescue expresses our condolences to the families of the fishermen and St Helena Bay community.

Details of the men have not been released.