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Skiboating can be hazardous to your health

Posted by Silverback on 06 November 2007 at 12:45 PM

Almost a disaster for the Gauteng Team at the 2007 Nationals

We had been scouting the area for 2007 National Spearfishing Championships. There were 5 of us on the skiboat. We launched from Knysna, navigating through the heads effortlessly, at first light, to make the long run to Plett. I was accompanied by the Punisher, the Penetrator, the Priest and Skippie (No names, no packdrill, but they know who they are. Only Angel-eyes was absent). We were unsure when the actual day of competition would be called.

The water was cold and the viz poor with a thermocline pushing in and a huge swell churning up the bottom. Bottomfish would be the target and from the start we could see the competition was going to be tough. The fish were few and far between, on very limited structure.

We finished up and decided to head back toward Knysna but had picked up that there may be a shallow reef near the Keurbooms River mouth. We travelled toward the mouth approx 200m behind the backline looking for some indication of the presence of the reef. Just when everyone was losing interest and resigning themselves to the areas already scouted, Skippie screamed at us to hold on. The warning came too late for the Penetrator, who was duly swept off the back of the boat by the freak wave that hit us from the seaward side.

Skippie turned the nose toward the next wave. Time seemed to stand still. The wave towered above us. It hit the bow of the boat with tremendous force. The Punisher (a large lad) was thrown against and then over me, shearing the retaining bolt of the stern roll-bar right off. The force of the wave’s impact smashed the centre console off the deck of the boat.

The beautiful skiboat had been turned into a wreck by one freak wave. We had lost engine power. The situation had gone from a leasurely trip back to Knysna into what was fast becoming a very dangerous situation. I checked on my 2 comrades floating in the sea, assessed that the boat was becoming a deadly place to stay. I shouted at the 2 remaining buddies on the boat, to abandon ship, donned my fins and went to the assistance of the 2 already in the water.

They were fine, note: thanks for maintaining your fitness, it just saved your life. Interestingly, in spite of drifting to the beach through the shore breakers, the boat never flipped. Everyone made it to the beach safely apart from bumps and bruises. Then the shocker: comp day tomorrow.

Every stop was pulled out to replace gear & boat, but we made it, only to have comp day postponed due to poor conditions!

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