Thrill-seekers have been warned to stay clear of a wrecked crane barge off Sandy Bay after two students were injured there last month.
The National Sea Rescue Institute had to mount a rescue on Sunday August 22 for the young men after they apparently leapt into the sea from the barge’s rusting crane.
Various websites encourage people to explore the wreck of the BOS 400 crane barge, but it is dangerous and people who have climbed aboard and leapt into the water from the crane have been seriously injured, says NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.
“NSRI are appealing to the public not to climb aboard and not to jump off the BOS 400 crane barge wreck,” he said.
The French crane barge ran aground in a storm in 1994 while being towed. The line broke sending the barge into the rocks just south of Sandy Bay.
Deemed too damaged and difficult to salvage, it was abandoned and has been rusting there ever since.
Two rescue crafts on training exercises were diverted to rescue the students, aged 21 and 23, in last month’s incident, according to Mr Lambinon.
A rescue swimmer found the students on rocks near the wreck where they were being tended to by hikers, including a student nurse, first aiders and an off-duty NSRI crewman.
The men had apparently jumped off the wreck’s crane, said Mr Lambinon.
The students were treated for serious injuries, including lacerations, abrasions and hypothermia. They were taken to the NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue base where paramedics examined them. “But, by that stage, they were recovering, and they declined ambulance transport to hospital. They were taken by private transport to a hospital for medical care and released from hospital following medical treatment,” Mr Lambinon said.
Ellis Richardson, of Hout Bay, said she had hiked to the wreck several times and understood the dangers, but it was hard to pass up the chance to explore it.
“You have a wreck on the coastline – every hiker or explorer, thrill-seeker or whatever you want to call it, will want to see this. Why do they not then consider making it safer for hikers to explore?”
For many, the wreck was the highlight of their hike along the coastline, she said.
“They will have to remove the wreck in order to keep people away from there. I am not calling on people to go and explore the wreck, I am saying that for people seeking that thrill, it’s a great place to start.
“I fully agree that it has to be off-limits, though, as it is not safe, and we are hearing about too many people being injured out there.”
Mr Lambinon said the wreck was at an “advanced stage of deterioration” with parts of its threatening to collapse.
“Rusted steel that has fallen off the wreck and submerged in the water around the wreck makes the wreck and the surrounding water unsafe,” he said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said he was aware of the dangers posed by the wreck and had appealed to hikers to stay clear.
“Despite the natural desire for adventure seekers to explore and enjoy our coastline, all such activities must be in line with personal and corporate safety and best practice,” he said.
He urged tour operators and the general public to comply with the NSRI’s appeal.