A man forced to abandon his yacht after running into a reef and nearly capsizing chose to help his dog ashore before returning to rescue his wife.

South African couple Graham and Sheryl Anley had set sail on a three-month tour around the cape when they hit rough waters near East London.

"As the incident happened Graham sent a mayday radio distress call and activated the EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) but they were immediately forced to abandon the yacht," said National Sea Rescue Institute rep Geoff McGregor.

In a move that will likely put him in the Dog House for some time, Graham made the decision to save his beloved 9-year-old Jack Russell Rosie first, before ensuring his wife's safety.

"Graham told us he first swam Rosie ashore safely before returning for his wife, whose safety line had become snagged on the steering gear," McGregor said in a statement.

A rescue helicopter arrived on the scene a short time later and airlifted the couple and their dog to a nearby sea rescue base.

None of the parties involved had sustained any injuries, though something tells me that may yet change.

[photos via NSRI, Facebook]