In what has been termed a miraculous escape amongst the maritime fraternity on the Seychelles was the three man crew of the ferry boat Le Cerf rescued after their vessel sank in a storm while returning to base in Mahe.
Owned by Masons Travel, one of the Seychelles leading DMCs, the vessel was enroute back from Denis Islands when it was struck by freak waves, damaging the hull and taking on water.
The experienced skipper sent an immediate SOS out which was picked up by the Seychelles coast guard which dispatched a rescue mission immediately but the actual rescue was then accomplished, after the crew was adrift for over 4 hours since abandoning their sinking vessel, by a Praslin based yacht.
A source in Victoria, when spoken to overnight, attributed the rescue and safe return of the crew also to the regular safety training of crews engaged in tourist transfers by boats and by carrying all required safety equipment like rafts, life vests and other equipment, helping to survive a potential ship wreck.
The news spread fast when the vessel went into distress and as light faded, a number of leisure boats went out to sea to assist in the search, helped by the crews use of mobile phones. The skipper and his two deck hands used their phones to give status and position updates to the search teams which in turn used powerful search lights which were eventually spotted and used for the final rendezvous between rescuers and the crew afloat.
Seychelles has in past years strengthened the capacity for search and rescue in our territorial waters, in part triggered by the piracy problem which our country tackled with full determination. In the process a lot of training was done, and this has benefited our maritime safety considerably. Earlier this year we guided a stricken cruise ship to port in Victoria when our coast guard ran a successful mission to bring that ship safely to port. As an island nation we depend on shipping and ferries to travel between the islands and our safety record must be maintained to protect our tourist industry. Hundreds of people travel every day between Mahe and Praslin and between Praslin and La Digue but also a lot of other islands and safety is the highest priority. Boats and ferries are inspected regularly and emergency drills and training are ongoing all the time commented a regular source from Victoria when discussing the emerging news. Congrats to the rescue teams for a job well done.