Worldwide Voyage crewmembers recently visited the Richards Bay National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) station and learned more about the unique organization. Renowned Hawaiʻi waterman Archie Kalepa, former director of Maui County’s Ocean Safety Division and safety officer for the current leg of the voyage, was among the crewmembers who went to see the facilities.
According to station commander Dorian Robertson, “NSRI is a voluntary sea rescue organization. All of our funding comes from public donors or sponsorships. All the bases and boats…are all purely from public donations and sponsorships. The station commanders – like myself – down to the crew, are all volunteers. We don’t get paid a cent for what we do.”
Since its establishment in 1967, NSRI has grown to over 1,000 unpaid volunteers who are on standby day and night to save lives in South African waters. NSRI operates 31 bases along the South African coast and relies on a fleet of 96 rescue craft, 38 rescue vehicles, 16 quad bikes, and 11 tractors. The team from the Richards Bay station greeted Hōkūleʻa as she approached her first African landfall.
After learning more about Hōkūleʻa and the Worldwide Voyage, station commander Robertson said, “I think the crew is very brave to do what they are doing, but it is certainly an experience. The whole story around the voyage is very, very good…But it could be scary going around the world in a vessel like Hōkūleʻa.”