I was recently at Sodwana and it just so happened that there was a fishing comp on that week. So on Monday morning we hit the beach early with My Father in-law Joe to check out the boats launching. The kids played around in the small waves so that I could keep an eye on them while we watched the spectacle.
It is very impressive to see such huge boats being launched straight into the sea. It comes with some drama tractors getting stuck in the soft sand in the surf zone then other tractors pulling them out. There is a lot to see as boat after boat gets launched and does a few turns in the safe zone. Then they time the gap and race out punching a few waves until they are beyond the breakers to start a days fishing for the big one.
My father in law is snapping pictures like crazy. Next thing I see a boat upside down in the surf zone. I shout to mt father in law, “Hey Joy a boat has flipped”. It was gut wrenching for me. I have never been in a boat flip before but I have been flipped in my fishingski many times. Also once in Cape town when the dungeons surfing comp
was on. But that is another story.
The launching stops and I think there might be a rescue boat. Nothing! Lucky the guys all have life jackets on and they float back to shore. The boat does not do the same thing. It floats down the coast a bit and then does not go in or out. I think it had to do with the fly bridge keeping it in one place. The launching continues and nothing further happens. A few people have gathered on the shore waiting for the boat to come closer. They try and swim out to it but with life jackets on they just can’t get through the surf zone.
I mention to my father in law that I am going to see if I can help. I have borrowed a small plastic boat to have some fun in the waves. I am thinking that I can paddle a rope out and tie it onto the boat. Paddle back an they can then pull the boat back. I speak to the guys and they say that will be great. I get the boat and put a life jacket on. I tie the rope onto the back of the plastic kayak. I then start paddling out. The rope is too short and the guys are holding onto it. I am in the surf zone and being stopped so I think I am going to get flipped. Lucky the guys let go and I punch through to waves and come close to the boat.
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It is a very eerie feeling seeing a boat upside down in the see. The water is clean so I can see that the fly bridge is touching the ground. I also take my time as I want to make sure things are ok before I do anything. I jump off the plastic kayak and untie the rope and attach it to the front of the boat. This was a bit of a challenge as I was also holding onto the kayak. A big wave came over and flipped the kayak so I was dealing with that also. I took my time and in the end had the rope on and was back on the kayak. At first I thought I would feed the rope through a loop on the kayak until I got to the other end of it. That did not work and the first wave snapped the loop. I then paddled until I found the end of the rope. I then wrapped that around the paddle. I did not tie it on just in case I had to let go. In the white water the rope went very taught and I bailed from the kayak. In that moment as the wave washed over me it also took off the life jacket. Lucky I could stand and a few more waves washed over me and I was pulled with massive force, it took all my might to hold on. Lucky my kayak fishing experience had taught me a few tricks and I braced myself for the waves by keeping my arms close to my body and using them as a spring. Then it felt like the rope had snapped as there was no more tension. I was now much closer and a guy had managed to swim out and he took hold of the rope and started pulling. The rope had not snapped but the boat had moved closer to shore. The plan had worked.
I then left them to it and they pulled the boat ashore. I was watching the back of the boat and saw a few feet behind the fly bridge all messed up. I collected it and started carrying it to the beach. They then got the boat close enough to the shore and used a bakkie and some rope to flip it back over. It was a very sad site to see.
It was then back to my family and home for breakfast. I chatted to my kids and they shared that they where scared for me. I explained what I had done and that safety was a top priority for me.
What I found worrying was where is the safety crew. These guys have massive boats and not all of them are fit and healthy. I am glad that the people where ok and managed to get back to shore safely. I was glad that I could help. It was fun and full of adrenaline.
The boats name is Wizzard.