Paddler’s Tragic Death: Interim Investigation Shows Municipal Lifeguards Followe An
Interim Investigation, held this morning regarding the tragic incident
on September 2 when Port Elizabeth Pastor Barry Marshall drowned, found
that the municipal lifeguards followed appropriate measures when they
contacted the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and the Port Captain
shortly after the incident was reported to them.

Personnel from the Beach Office are expected to react to emergency
situations within the shoreline (less than one nautical mile from the
beach) and since this unfortunate incident took place outside its
jurisdiction, this information was accordingly communicated to the NSRI
and Port Control.

Reports from staff members were interrogated to determine whether there
is any validity to claims in local media that municipal lifeguards only
acted twelve hours after the incident was reported to them. This claim
was found to be baseless and at best speculative since written
affidavits to senior municipal officials indicate that telephone calls
took place, radio contact was established and personal discussions took

The Beach Office of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is currently
setting up a meeting with stakeholders to investigate the enhancement
of communications structures pertaining to emergency situations.

Detailed investigations by the Municipality, as per the norm, are
taking place and once verified appropriate steps will be taken.

Once again, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality would like to remind
the public to be cautious when entering the sea, especially during
adverse weather conditions.

Editors Notes:

Part 6 of the National Small Safety Vessel Regulations published on 8
August 2007 identify paddle skis operated offshore as Category E
vessels. These are vessels operating not more than 1 Nautical Mile from
shore, 15 Nautical Miles from an approved launch site and less than 25
Gross Tons.

Annexure 2 of the
National Small Safety Vessel Regulations identify the minimum safety
requirements required for these vessels as follows:

  • Personal Buoyancy Aids (SABS 1417/1987),
  • Projectile flare set (unexpired),
  • Waterproof torch + spare bulb (night operation only),
  • Sea-anchor with hawser & tripping line (All Vessels
    under 9m in length and surf launched),
  • Drinking water (750ml per person),
  • Watertight Capsize Cannister (containing survival
  • Spares & Tools,
  • Marking of Equipment – Vessel & Trailer,
  • Buoyancy Certificate,
  • Original expired LGSC (Local General Safety Certificates)
    or COF (Certificate of Fitness).

In addition Ian Gray from NSRI recommends that
other simple basic procedures are followed which include:

  • letting somone know where you are launching from,
  • in which direction you will be paddling,
  • your departure time and ETA back on shore.
  • paddle with a buddy and avoid solo paddling.

The unfortunate incident is the first one that has resulted in the
death of a paddler in Algoa Bay.

Ward 1 Councillor, Stanford Slabbert
had a nasty incident when he slipped off of his paddle ski in June 2006
– he was one of the lucky ones who survived. Read his story: Stanford’s rescue story and his
letter of thanks: Bouquets from Stanford.

On a personal note – it incenses me when people try and lay blame on
others and swerve from responsibility. It remains a fact that the NSRI
were only despatched much later, rumour that nothing was done about it
or that the Municipal Jetski was not able to be started to start the
search for Pastor Barry Marshall.

As sea loving people and with Port Elizabeth wanting to be crowned the
Watersport Capital of South Africa (at least) we would do well to
remember the sailors law that if someone is in distress on the sea you
are morally and legally obliged to take ownership of that Mayday and
proceed with all due haste to assist that person. Merely abdicating
your responsibility is not good enough. And, yes, you are morally
obligated to do so even if you suspect that it is a hoax call as
happened recently – see: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, This is Seeker.

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