Any plans St Francis Bay NSRI crew had on Saturday morning were put on hold when they received an alert following reports of a missing Buttcat fishing boat participating in a Tuna Classic fishing competition. The boat was overdue after the competition had been called off due to unfavourable sea conditions and had failed to respond to efforts to communicate with the boat.
It was suspected that they had not received the cancellation of the tournament message and were simply continuing fishing unaware that the event had been called off.
However continued efforts to communicate with the boat failed and NSRI sea rescue craft ‘Spirit of St Francis’ was launched. NSRI stations in Oyster Bay, Jeffreys Bay and Port Elizabeth were also activated and two fishing trawlers, Rigel and Elke M were also alerted and joined in the search that was co-ordinated by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Port Elizabeth in cooperation with NSRI St Francis Bay.
A private aircraft had also been volunteered by a local flying club and private donors in St Francis Bay volunteered funds to fuel the aircraft to join in the search. Fortunately shortly before taking off the wife of the Buttcat’s skipper advised she had received a WhatsApp message from her husband that all was in order and he and his three crew were safe and returning to port.
Sarah Jane Smith Station Commander at NSRI St Francis thanked all involved and commended all concerned including the two fishing trawlers, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, the Tuna Classic organisers, the private aircraft owner and all who assisted.
Well done NSRI St Francis Bay – you make us proud.