Pedal Boat Crew rescued

The boat was handling strong Cape Seas, 40 knot winds & 4-6 metre swells but the pedal system just couldn’t beat the conditions as we tried to push further West & out to sea. We were both sea sick.”

(Correne Coetzer) As reported on Pythom, Davey du Plessis and Robyn Wolff departed from Cape Town, South Africa, for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on their pedal boat on January 8.

Today, Davey, as well as South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), reported about their rescue on January 9 in rough sea conditions. According to the NSRI, “a concerned husband of the woman requested NSRI Yzerfontein to launch a search for the [pedal] boat as their tracking system appeared to show them adrift 10 nautical miles off-shore and while NSRI Yzerfontein was placed on alert no formal distress had been called by the pedal boat.”

According to Davey, the two of them were not aware of the search request. “The boat was handling strong Cape Seas, 40 knot winds & 4-6 metre swells but the pedal system just couldn’t beat the conditions as we tried to push further West & out to sea. We were both sea-sick.”

“Eventually, after 8 hours of pedaling from departure & becoming very fatigued, trying to get further West, I deployed the Sea Anchor & was then at the full mercy of wind directions. Initially, the South Easter wind was blowing us westward out to sea, but the change to a South wind began to push us North & towards the coast. After being on sea anchor for the night & following day, all we could do was wait.”

“My mom was suffering from chronic sea-sickness, she suggested we call for help but I told her this was to be expected & give it another day or two before we call for help, but my thoughts at the time were that we wouldn’t need help because we would be pushed back to shore & either beach the craft or call for a tow when much closer to land.”

He had been very preoccupied with managing the boat and had neglected updates to home, admitted Davey, as he assumed the live tracking device would be sufficient. When his mom called home, they heard the NSRI was called to come find them. “I was completely oblivious to any rescue efforts, as my mom & I lay hunkered in the boat waiting to see what the weather did, not feeling the need for rescue as we felt safe in the boat, uncomfortable, but safe. Never did it feel like a life-threatening situation, so there was no need for a rescue.”

They heard a NSRI boat was looking for them, and since the boat was near and that they were drifting closer to Dassen Island, Davey asked if they could get a tow and also tend to his mom.

NSRI reported that in rough seas and strong winds (gusting up to 60 knots) they launched the sea rescue craft to rendezvous with the pedal boat 12 nautical miles off Bokpunt.

“On arrival on scene the mother and her son were taken off their boat onto the sea rescue craft and attempts were made to tow the paddle boat; but in the rough sea conditions the towing effort was hampered and the boat was towed to a sheltered anchorage at Dassen Island and left there. The mother and son were brought safely to Port in Table Bay arriving at 01h00.”

Davey concluded, “The reality is that with these adventures, especially if it’s something that hasn’t been done before, there are going to be challenges & setbacks. Fortunately, I have pulled some vital information from this experience, can now make some adjustments. I will miss my window period for departure, so have to encounter a delay & hopefully be ready to pedal the Atlantic at the end of this year.”

Davey (27) and his mother, Robyn (50), had planned to pedal in a custom built boat across the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 6500 km, in an estimated 3-6 months.

Expedition website

Previous on Pythom

Pedal boat left South Africa for Brazil

Amazon-left-for-dead, Davey du Plessis’ next adventure, with his mother

Atlantic Pedal: Pythom interview with Robyn Wolff

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