Kalk Bay Tragedy Remembered

On Friday the 17th of December 1965 at about 10:50 in the morning a South African Navy 32-foot cutter, (a wooden training boat) manned by men of the newly established South African Coloured Corps, overturned close to the Kalk Bay harbour breakwater. The cutter was under sail and on its way from Simon’s Town on a seamanship training cruise. As the cutter approached Kalk Bay, a sudden quick succession of steep high waves developed and capsized the vessel within sight of the harbour. A heavy south-easterly swell entering the bay earlier in the morning, being focussed onto the immediate Kalk Bay area, caused increasingly unfavourable sea conditions.
With the boat capsized Mr Desmond and Vincent Hare took their tunny fishing boat Speranza out to sea to assist with the rescue attempt. Vincent jumped overboard to rescue two men and recover a body. Another hero of the day, an unknown local man, just known as “Johnny” drowned when he was washed off the breakwater in an effort to rescue two of the men who were eventually pulled out of the water. In the ensuing melee four men were saved, one drowned, while seven were reported missing at the time. The loss of eight of the eleven crew members on board and the unknown hero Johnny, were reported in the Cape Argus newspaper City Late edition on the same day.
The Navy men who lost their lives in the accident were: Pte J.G. Farmer (Athlone), Pte J. Arnolds (Epping), Pte F. Braaf (Montagu), Pte H. Harris (Toll Gate), Pte M.W. Joubert (Brackenfell), Pte J. Newing (Kraaifontein), Pte H.C. Presence (Simon’s Town), Pte R. Rittles (Burgersdorp).
The four men saved were Petty Officer H.A. Potgieter (Fishhoek), Pte T.S. Arendse (Crawford), Pte M.H. Manuel (Retreat) and Pte R.J. Mariens (Strand).