On Saturday night, the NSRI in Port Alfred were activated following reports of a tourist group and their river guide in difficulties during a river paddle on the Bushmans River, about 25 km West of Port Alfred.
“A local backpackers lodge, Woody Cape Backpackers, reported that their guests, 3 Spanish males, 2 Spanish females and a British female, had paddled up river on an arranged overnight paddle with a 36 year old Durban river guide that the backpackers lodge had arranged to accompany them,” said Juan Pretorius from the NSRI.
“At around 18h30, the tourist contacted the Backpackers, reporting that the river guide had paddled further upstream, leaving them behind, reportedly to look for a camping site for them to spend the night.
The tourists were concerned that he had not returned and although they were safe they were not sure where to set up camp and they were also concerned for the river guide who had not returned to them and feared for his safety since it was getting dark.
The backpackers owners had alerted the Bushmans Marina shop owners who had taken their private boat upstream to look for the group but with no word being received the backpackers owners were growing increasingly concerned and they decided to raise the alarm alerting rescue authorities.
“NSRI Port Alfred dispatched our sea rescue vehicle towing our 5.5 meter rigid inflatable rescue craft which we launched onto the river. The Police and a member of the Police dive unit also responded to the scene,” said Pretorius.
“On our arrival we started to search upstream and saw the Bushmans Marina boat as well as the 6 tourists. They were taken to the backpackers and there were no injuries,” added Pretorius
“NSRI continued to search for the missing tour guide but by midnight there was no sign of him and our sea rescue craft had gone as far upstream as we could in the low tide (about 20 km) before running out of water.
“At 2 am, the search was called off and recommenced at 6 am on Sunday morning when our sea rescue craft was dispatched upstream again and during the ongoing search we came across the missing Bob Timms.
“It appears that Mr. Timms had dragged his canoe ashore the night before and had fallen asleep.
“Mr. Timms has been treated for hypothermia and reunited with the backpackers lodge owners and all additional responding rescue resources were cancelled concluded Pretorius”