Rescue on Christmas day

Christmas day 2021 was filled with drama at the main swiming beach in Cannon Rocks.

Andre Ingram from NSRI reports:

Niall Cameron has spent much of his life in, or on the ocean.
On Christmas Day 2021 , he got a call from a mate down the road on the beachfront of Cannon Rocks swimming bay.

“Have you got eyes on the ocean?” the friend asked.

Running outside Niall noticed two men in the water. They were far off the beach at the Cannon Rocks swimming bay, close to Port Alfred. It appears as if they had capsized and been separated from their fishing kayak.
This is Niall’s story:

“When I ran out onto our front lawn I saw two guys about 400m out. Far off the back line. It looked to me like they had been knocked off a fishing kayak and caught in a very strong rip current. An erratic and tumultuous south east swell was running with 2.5m sets coming through. They were in a dangerous situation.

“Realising the urgency, I asked my wife, Tess, to go to my Landy and fetch my long carbon spear fishing fins. I also asked Ngoni, a visitor from Zimbabwe, who does not know the ocean, to run to the bay and get me the Pink Rescue Buoy and then to meet me in front of our house at the waters edge.

“Knowing that the ocean was cold – about 15 degrees Celsius, I donned my full length wetsuit. I took swimming goggles and ran down to the waters edge. Ngoni had pulled the whole Pink Buoy support pole out of the ground and ran to meet me at the beach. Moments later, I chose a line to swim out using the rip current and a short while later reached the two guys,” said Niall

In danger of drowning were two brothers, Johannesburg residents who had been visiting Cannon Rocks since their childhood. It later turned out that that when the one saw his brother capsize and realised that he was unable to remount his fishing kayak he decided to swim out to help him.

Local surfer to the rescue

A local surfer and friend of Niall,  Andre van der Spuy, had also seen the danger that the two men were in. He responded on his long board. On reaching them, Andre asked the stronger of the two to hold on to his surfboard while he paddled him back to the beach.

Niall carries on; “Meanwhile I passed the Pink Buoy to the man who had capsized. He was exhausted and held it under his chest while I finned on my back using the Pink Buoy rope and harness to pull hard, keeping a couple of meters between us, so that I could still watch and talk to him. I was confident that once we could get into the surf zone we could use the waves to reach the shore.”

“The whole event took the best part of a 30 min hard swim. This was followed by a 2 hour stabilisation on the beach where he was treated for hypothermia and severe fatigue.”

“Thanks to all the Cannon Rocks locals for helping and keeping a keen eye on the ocean.”

Says NSRI Drowning Prevention manager Andrew Ingram:

“He is the 84th person who we know of that has been rescued using a Pink Rescue Buoy. I was so proud of our programme when I spoke to him about his rescue and was told … ‘I am very grateful that the Pink Buoy was there. It really did save my life …”

2 rescuers helping drowning person in Cannon Rocks