Pupils learn the ropes at NSRI camp

Maritime high school pupils got the year off to a practical start with a four-day camp that saw them literally learning the ropes in a real maritime environment with the help of the National Sea Rescue Institute and SAIMI.

The learners, who are all recipients of the General Botha Old Boys’ Association Bursary Fund, kicked off the camp at the NSRI headquarters in Three Anchor Bay, Cape Town, with some theory sessions on safety, vessel operations and ropework, before being put to the test with a timed seven-knot challenge.

“Even with nerves causing shaky hands, they did very well tying knots under pressure,” says the NSRI’s training and logistics assistant Bianca van Zyl.

“The next day we had an early start with a fitness session and then put theory into practice. They split into two teams and got a chance on the boat to do ropework, mooring and cleating off, working with throw bags, taking charge of a team and taking a navigational boat trip into the Cape Town harbour.”

Bianca says the learners thoroughly enjoyed the exercise, clamouring for more practical sessions. Their wishes were duly granted over the next two days with sessions in GPS work, drowning prevention and basic first aid, as well as a teambuilding exercise.

“One of the major highlights was an introduction to maritime extrication training at our training centre, where we taught them how to abseil down a line. Every student got a chance – they were nervous but loved every second of it,” says Bianca.

The course wrapped up with an outing to the Saldanha harbour, including a tour of the tugboats and a visit to the Saldanha Port Control.

After an intense three days, the youngsters took some much-needed downtime on day four to explore the sights of Hout Bay, the Cape Town harbour and the NSRI station at the V&A Waterfront.

This camp marked the first of such partnerships by SAIMI for the year, which will see the institute working with a number of maritime organisations to foster awareness and practical exposure to the working environment for future seafarers. .


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