SEVEN crew members on a yacht that hit the rocks and started sinking off the Sunshine Coast had a lucky escape yesterday when they were rescued by National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) volunteers.
Attempts to sink the yacht failed and warnings were issued for marine traffic in the Port Alfred- Cannon Rocks area to be on the lookout for the half-submerged boat.
NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said rescue volunteers launched two boats from Port Alfred and tried to help save the sinking yacht, Hlangana, before giving up for safety reasons.
"NSRI rescue crew were put aboard the yacht to assist to bail water and a water extrication pump was transferred onto the yacht but by that stage it was listing dangerously and the decision was taken for all crew to abandon ship."
He said the yacht was being taken to Port Alfred from Port Elizabeth for routine repairs when it apparently ran into the rocks on North Reef off Bird Island early yesterday morning.
"The crew had, after numerous attempts to raise the alarm, sent a radio distress message to Telkom Maritime Radio Services and then NSRI Port Alfred was activated.
"All casualty crew and our NSRI rescuers were transferred onto our sea rescue craft and the yacht keeled over on her side, lying semi-submerged."
He said instructions by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to scuttle the boat to avoid it becoming a navigational hazard failed and a maritime warning was being broadcast by Telkom Maritime Radio Services of the semi-submerged yacht floating off Cannon Rocks."
"The owner and skipper, Leon Naude, will decide on salvage operations, or further attempts will be made to scuttle the yacht."