Boats "maliciously" untied at PE Harbour

Unidentified man spotted on camera untying the boats

NSRI rescue one of the boats that was found drifting inside the Port Elizabeth harbour during the early hours of Sunday morning.
NSRI rescue one of the boats that was found drifting inside the Port Elizabeth harbour during the early hours of Sunday morning.
Image: Ruth Wren

In what is believed to have been a malicious attempt to damage fishing boats at the Port Elizabeth Harbour, three boats were untied by an unidentified man, causing them to drift off and run aground.Reasons for the incident are unknown at this stage.

The Port Elizabeth’s National Sea Rescue Institute (Nsri) spotted the boats on their way from a rescue mission at about 1am on Sunday. 

One was against the rocks and two on a sandbank.

Nsri station commander Ian Gray said that his crew had just returned from rescuing a crewman on a bulk carrier who need medical attention.

"No serious damage was found to the fishing boats and they simply gently drifted away from their moorings and lightly grounded on the beach south of the Port Elizabeth Angling Club."

“On further investigation, it was found that all of the boats were not manned. One of the boats was, however, found close to the rocks and boulders inside the harbour.”

Gray said that his team immediately jumped into action to assess if any of the boats were damaged or taking in water.

“All the boats were assessed and luckily only slight damage was found. The boats were then towed and taken back to the quay where they were tied up again.”

Five boats were found to be swinging off the quay. The other ropes had been untied
Five boats were found to be swinging off the quay. The other ropes had been untied
Image: Ruth Wren

Gray added that while the boats were being reattached, another five were seen swinging against the quay.

“We noticed another five boats swinging against the quay. Four of the ropes had been unattached on all the boats leaving only one rope attaching [each of] the boats to the quay,” he said.

“We managed to secure these boats as well before they drifted off or hit against the wall or another vessel.

“The owners were alerted straight away and arrived to assist with recovering their boats".Gray said that if the wind had been stronger the consequences could have been far worse.

“If the weather was worse, these boats could have drifted into other yachts or ski-boats. The damage could have been huge. This would have also led to a lot of pollution and even to the boats sinking,” he said.

Asked how it happened, Gray said that there was footage of someone untying the boats.

“In all my years, I have never seen anyone do such a thing. If we did not see these boats simply floating off, it could have ended very differently. Why someone would do such a thing, I do not know. It is blatantly malicious,” he added.

About the earlier rescue mission, Gray said they transported a fisherman who was in need of medical assistance to hospital.

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