NSRI Sweet Service and Southern Ambition Marine Safaris Sour Service Awards!


The Sweet Service Award goes to the NSRI, as well as other supporters who assisted in the rescue of 37 of the passengers on the Miroshga, which capsized off Hout Bay. Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde acknowledged the contribution of the NSRI, the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services which brought 24 passengers to hospitals in Cape Town, Navy sea divers, EMS divers, and the Western Cape and City Disaster Management Units, in the rescue operation.  Poachers who were fishing in the area were the first to arrive on the scene, and assisted in pulling passengers out of the water.

The Sour Service Award goes to Southern Ambition Marine Safaris, owners of the Miroshga whale, dolphin and seal watching boat that capsized in Hout Bay two weeks ago, for having a skipper of the boat that was not certified to carry passengers, resulting in the death of tourist Peter Hyett and crew member John Roberts, the initial inquiry into the accident by the SA Maritime Safety Authority has found, reported the Cape Times yesterday. Other issues were problematic too. The boat used to have inboard motors, but replaced these with outboard engines, the vents of the inboard motors not having been closed, resulting in the boat taking on water.  The bilge pump used to pump out the water at sea did not work ‘because it had been incorrectly wired’.  The compartments below deck were not watertight, which meant that the seawater coming in through the vents spread faster than the bilge pump could pump out the water.  The alarm system, to alert the skipper of flooding at a certain level, had been disconnected!  The battery compartment was flooded, which cut out the port engine, followed by the starboard engine too, leading to the boat drifting into the breakers and capsizing. The life raft was cut loose by the passengers, but floated away without being used. In summary, the report said that the boat disaster was the result of a ‘succession of small bad decisions and incidents’!  The owners paid for Roberts’ funeral, and the company has not operated since the accident.  The skipper and his company could face criminal charges.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

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5 replies on “NSRI Sweet Service and Southern Ambition Marine Safaris Sour Service Awards!”

  1. James Costello says:

    Thoroughly agree with your awards Chris…am very chuffed to see that you, for one, DID mention the role of the poachers…something the DA has super-conveniently swept under the ruf in all media releases (I stand under correction, but do not recall them being mentioned by the ruling party at any point!)

    It is phenomenal tragic that these two folk lost their lives in what was supposed to be a pleasurable outing or a another day on the job, as the case may be. What is even more disturbing is the thought of how many other rides/tours/ships/taxis/aircraft/trains/buses etc may also be in an unfit state.

    The shocking potential of the loss of life, or chance of injury, not to mention debilitating trauma of a possible tragedy is mind-boggling. I am also very saddened to surmise how muxh damage was done in brand terms to “South Africa” and indeed “Cape Town”…I watched the erupting future live online via Twitter and FB; and the overriding thought I had was how many very hardworking guides, slippers, bungee assistants, drivers, pilots, zipline instructors etc are toiling tirelessly, invisibly, day in and day out, to keep guests safe.

    I only hope that the so-far comparably excellent South African safety records in various adventure fields does continue to be lauded, as well as the work of the countless support staff who keep everyone safe.

    Again, well done on a very insightful and balanced award article..I think the holding company for the MIROSHGA should definitely fave both criminal and civil penalties for their egregious oversights.

  2. Francoise Armour says:

    So Winde’s initial statement that the boat was all in order was a tad premature, then.

    Kudos to the poachers, these guys are not real poachers anyway, just desperate family men who have been marginalised by the quotas.

  3. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    I agree Francoise,

    Any captain/skipper should be held liable for an accident such as this one, especially with a loss of lives, as per the Costa Concordia, and be charged with manslaughter. None of this has been done in this matter!


  4. Chris von Ulmenstein says:

    I have seen the media statement from the Minister’s office James, and you are right – there was no mention of the poachers and their role.

    However Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit Tweeted about their role at the time.


  5. James Costello says:

    Good heavens…did she really?!

    How uncharacteristically gracious and community-minded…perhaps change is in the air?!

    My mama always did say it sometimes took a war for people to behave “properly”…

    Awfully happy that despite all the negative, depressing and scandalous things happening around us all, such amazing good was done by all in this lamentable situation…bravo, bravo, bravo!

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