Rescues in the surf zone are particularly challenging on the South African coast line. Routinely encountering breaking waves of 1.5 metres plus and with 3 metres not being uncommon in some locations, operation and recovery test the skills of the equipment, coxswains and crew to the limit.
Because of this operating environment and the outboard driven inflatable boats traditionally used, crews are often exposed to the risk of injury to themselves as well as the hazards of the propellers to those requiring rescue in the water. Jet powered PWC’s have started to play a role in this zone and whilst they have some benefits over the inflatables, they are limited in their abilities by their size and stability and have the added hazard of being hard-hulled which can cause injury to people in the water.
Both existing craft types are susceptible to capsize in the
surf zone and the outboard-powered inflatables suffer the consequence of potential engine water damage each time.This increases operational costs and causes unplanned down-time.
Being optimally driven by 2-stroke outboard motors, the inflatables lose performance when converted to running with the more environmentally friendly but heavier 4-strokes.
NSRI felt that all the compromises were just too great and that there had to be a better way to perform surf rescue duties.
Having built 20+ 4.0m jet ribs for a Mauritian client, Droomers and Admiral Powercats had embarked on a design and development effort to take their learnings and apply them to a totally new craft in an innovative way. At the same time, one of NSRI’s focuses was to find a more fit-for-purpose surf rescue boat. Early on in prototyping, their paths crossed and the NSRI became part of the testing and design-driving team for what was to become the “Sea Ranger”.
The Sea Ranger is a perfect combination of RIB and PWC in one incredibly capable surf rescue boat package. With the fully-in-tact jet powered PWC bonded to a partial RIB hull and tube, the original integrity is unaffected. This is a big plus.
Taking the best of both worlds and putting them together in an innovative way that does not compromise either’s original benefits, has resulted in a craft that is unequalled in the Surf Rescue role.
The NSRI, after extensive testing at many South African coastal stations, has decided to deploy the Sea Ranger fully over the next 5 to 8 years with the first batch being deployed in the last quarter of 2019.