Robben Island ferry ‘with 60 people on board’ at centre of rescue effort

The Thandi ferry
Picture: Supplied

A Robben Island ferry‚ normally used to transport staff‚ was at the centre of a dramatic rescue operation off Cape Town on Friday afternoon.

When contacted‚ NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said: “I can’t speak there is a rescue going on.” The fire department was alerted at 2.42pm.

A staff member at Nonkululeko Charters‚ the owners of the Thandi‚ confirmed that there “is an emergency involving the boat’’. However‚ she could not provide details.

TimesLIVE understands that the National Sea Rescue Institute was transferring passengers from the stricken craft and port control asked all vessels to keep clear of the ferry. A pilot boat wanted to take the Thandi under tow but no tow line was aboard.

Jacques Ellis‚ the skipper of luxury charter yacht Only One‚ said he was sailing to the Thandi’s rescue and believed there may be “60-plus” people on board. “But we will only know what’s going on once we’re there‚” he said.

Thandi is part of a fleet of six tourist boats owned by Esa Yacoob‚ which started with a small harbour cruise boat‚ Sea Shuttle 1‚ in 1994.

Yacoob did not answer his phone on Friday afternoon‚ but his website says: “The company employs over 40 people from skippers‚ deckhands‚ service providers‚ marketing and admin staff.

“Over a process of seven years‚ the fleet grew. Sea Shuttle 1 was renamed Tommy the Tugboat and is permanently of service outside the Two Oceans Aquarium‚ giving educational and entertaining harbour tours for young and old.

“Ameera‚ a 40ft catamaran (37 passengers)‚ is the ‘green ambassador’ of the fleet and the all-time favourite party boat‚ the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat (75 passengers) joined the fleet in 2008. In November 2012‚ Africa’s first cigarette boat‚ Adrenalin‚ was launched.

“Designed and built from scratch by Yacoob‚ Adrenalin is the company’s stealth bomber for those who are in the need for speed. Powering up to 70km/h (33 knots)‚ she will certainly get the endorphins flowing as she flies like a Harley-Davison across the Atlantic Ocean.

“The fleet is built to confirm to international safety standards and is operational 365 days of the year. The company has an excellent track record in the tourism industry as well as with the South African Maritime Safety Association for the last 18 years.

“The vessels have been used in many international Bollywood and Hollywood films and European ad campaigns. Individual vessels can be used for private charters‚ photographic and film locations. Offering a unique blend of boats to suit all tastes and need‚ authentic and unforgettable experiences are on offer off Cape Town’s unique and breath-taking coastline.”

2 thoughts on “Robben Island ferry ‘with 60 people on board’ at centre of rescue effort

  • October 15, 2017 at 10:16 am

    The rescue was done with NSRI and a vessel built by Nautic Africa’s sister company VeeCraft… the Madeba 1…a specialised Fast Crew Vessel normally used in the O&G industry but with its medications has definitely made for the best ferry vessel involved in Robin Island Museum operation. The Madeba 1 is not part of Yacoob’s fleet and if comparing boats to bikes…the Madeba 1 is more like a Ducati… purpose built for speed and peace of mind.
    Praiaes to all involved. Regards RS

  • September 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Used to work there. Their vessels were in absolutely terrible condition. A miracle they lasted as long as they did before an incident like this.


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