Friday, September 9, 2016

Valiant Attempt

On July 28th 1977 a north-west gale was whipping up the sea around Cape Town when the captain of a small Japanese tug Kiyo Maru 2 approached Table Bay towing two derelict tankers Antipolis and Romelia, bound for scrapyards in the Far East. Cape Town’s Port Captain advised the Japanese tug not to enter Table Bay as the weather was worsening and there was the worry that the two tankers would not have enough sea room. With the north-wester blowing harder than ever, the towrope between the tug and the Antipolis snagged on the sea bed as the convoy approached Robben Island. All attempts to free it failed, during which time the Romelia surged ahead and finally broke free, followed by the Antipolis, watched helplessly from the tug still firmly snagged on the sea bed, eventually freeing herself by severing the snagged cable with cutting torches. The two tankers now drifted freely towards the Cape Peninsula coastline spurred on by high wind and mountainous seas, and at this stage the Deep Sea Tug SA Wolraad Woltemade (seen here) was dispatched and raced to the closest tanker Antipolis to make a valiant attempt to attach the tanker’s stern rope and prevent her running aground. Before this could happen, "Wolly", as she was affectionately known, touched bottom on flat rocks and had to depart as her fuel tanks had been ruptured, ultimately requiring dry docking. Consequently, the Antipolis ran aground at Oudekraal with her bow pointing south, and the Romelia grounded on Sunset Rocks at Llandudno a few kilometres further south, their respective final resting places. Both derelict tankers had escaped the impersonal scrapping process in the Far East, a sad fate "Wolly" would not be spared, when in 2010 she was unceremoniously dismantled piecemeal on an Indian beach.

Acrylic on canvas 76 x 101cm