Sms communication with rescue team

This post is part of The Art of Living series from Bacon and the Art of Living.  Chapter 99, where this is posted, is an addendum to the book.  In the “Art of Living section, I write about family and the many great experiences we had as part of “the art of living.”  Most of these experiences make it into the main body of the work.


Minette printed the sms messages from Saturday.  I translate it.

“Us” is Minette and Eben

On Saturday, Minette and I did the same hike I did many years ago.



Our first mistake was going up an area where we could not get down again.


After trying to get across the mountain all day, we abandoned our attempt at around 13:00 in the afternoon and  tried to get down.  We make it to the second waterfall.  Unfortunately we were at the top of the waterfall  and not at the bottom as I had hoped.  Eben almost made a fatal mistake and when he managed to get back up the ledge to where Minette was, with her help, they called for help.  It would be dark soon.

MINETTE CAM 002 Taken after Minette pulled me to safety.


We were stuck above the second and much higher waterfall.

MINETTE CAM 015 We were stuck at the top of this waterfall


Eben’s cell was dead and Minette’s phone was on its last bar (red).

We could see the rescue helicopter, but they were looking in the wrong gorge.


These actual sms messages followed:

16h27  Us: We call Mountain Rescue.  Explaining the situation.  “Please help!”

16h43  Us:  our coordinates are 43 deg 1′ 22” south 18 deg 21′ 40”

16h47  Belinda (Call Center operator):  Eben the rangers have been notified.  They are trying to contact you.

17h00  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Belinda calls us.

17h01  Us:  Can they sms us?

17h03  Belinda  (Call Center Operator):  Eben, send the coordinates again please.

17h03  Us:  43 deg 1′ 22” south 18 deg 21′ 40”

(the coordinates prove to be wrong, giving a location out at sea.)

17h05  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Are you guys warm?

17h05  Us:  We are OK.  Wet from the rain.

17h13  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  What cloths are you guys wearing?  What direction are you facing and what landmarks are around you?

17h15  Us:  Purple and blue.  We are above the second waterfall next to the river.

17h16  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  The helicopter has been dispatched.  Try and draw his attention.

17h18  Us:  Its heavily overgrown

17h20  Belinda (Call Center Operator)  Dont understand the message.  Are you facing Hout Bay or Lundudno?  Do you see any buildings with any signs on?

17h21  Us:  We are facing Hout Bay.

17h22  Us:  There was a dam in front of us with a gated community next to it. We can hear the dogs bark.

17h23  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Thanks.  Stay where you are.

17h25  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Everybody are on their way

17h39  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Are youb guys still ok?

17h42  Us:  yes, thank you!

17h47  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Can you see or hear the helicopter?

17h47  Us:  Yes

17h47  Us:  Only hear.  To dense to see.

17h48  Belinda (Call Center Operator):    Flash your camera or cell in the direction of the helicopter

17h49  Us:  We just saw him.

17h54  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  OK, they are looking for you.  Any information that will make it easier form them to locate you?

17h54  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Did you hear the chopper in front of you?

17h55  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Metro Rescue is trying to sms you.  Be strong.  Belinda

17h55  Us:  We call Belinda  (phone battery almost dead

17h57  Us:  He must fly straight up the gorge.  Then he will see us on the left.

18h00  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  OK, communicated.  Flash if you see him.

18h00  Us:  OK

18h01  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Thank you

18h12  Us:  The helicopter is at the wrong side

18h15  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Keep your red light on and flash the camera.  They are about to take off again.  If you look down the valley, is Muzenburg on your left or right?

18h16  Us:  Not sure.  Think its right.

Batterly low, but we decide to sms Julie.  The kids are alone at my place.

18h17  Us to Julie:  Please pick the kids up.  Will explain later.  We are in a bit of shit, but dont stress.  Will be OK.

18h18  Us to Julie:  from Eben (sms was from Minettes phone)


Photo taken from where we were waiting for the rescue team.


18h19  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  The tjopper is taking off again.  Keep the red lights on and flash your camera.

18h19  Us:  OK

18h20  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Let me know if you can see the helicopter.

18h20  Us:  OK

18h21  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Hear or see anything?

18h22  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  They are in the air.

18h23  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Are they on the right side of the mountain?

18h30  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Please take a pic of what you see around you and sms it to 082***294.  Did you see the heli?  They cant see you!

18h31  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Are you ok?  Your line is engaged.

18h32  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Belinda calls me.

18h32  Rowan (Metro rescue) calls us.

18h44  Belinda (Call Center Operator)The ground teams are now looking for you.  The heli cant fly any more.  Look for any flash lights.

18h47  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Flash your lights if you see anything.  Confirm if you get this message.

18h47  Us:  OK

18h48  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Flash again.  He thinks he knows where you are!

18h50  Us:  We dont see his light. We are flashing.

18h52  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Flash as soon as you see him.

18h53  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  If you face the residential area, the rangers are there now.  They flash their lights.

18h54  Us:  OK

18h55  Belinda (Call Center Operator): Let me know if you see anything.  Look down to the bottom of the valley.

19h04  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  OK, stop flashing.  They know where you are.  Will let you know when to start flashing again.

19h19  Rowan from metro rescue:  Hi my name is Rowan from metro rescue.  Can you see our flashing flash light in the main road hout bay?

19h19  Us:  No.

19h20  We call Rowan.

19h47  Us to Julie:  We will be OK.  Don’t worry.  Will be down soon.  Metro and the Rangers know where we are.  Eben and Minette

19h53  Julie:  So good to hear from you!  Are u hurt?  Its not fun being down here not being able to help!!

19h54  Us to Julie:  All good.  Nobody hurt.  Very cold and stuck but in good hands with Rangers.

19h58  Julie:  Ok stay strong!!!!!  I was in contact with the head of emergency chopper services in Cape Town and he told me that the ground crew was their way to you.  I’m waiting for emergency services to let me know where I can meet you.

20h06  Julie:  Rescue just spoke to me, they can see u and are on their way up to you.

20h08  Us to Julie:  Cool.  No sms.  Btary out.  U all invited to micaels to hear story.

20h37  Rowan from Metro rescue:  Can you flash your light

20h55  Rowan phones

The ground crew reach us.  We have never been so happy to see anybody, ever!!  We make our way down.  Their professionalism is amazing.  They literally direct our every step.  Take NO chances.  Use ropes wherever they can to ensure we are 100% secure.

They keep our spirits up by joking and light conversation.  If we go quite, they talk to us.

We get to the bottom.  A short debriefing at the temporary command center and Julie takes us to my car.

later that night Belinda sms us again:

21h04  Belinda (Call Center Operator):  Want to know if you are safely home.

994854_10201513794267648_1278444717_n The rescue team at the rescue Ops HQ that was set up in Hout Bay


We get safely home and reply to her:

23h20  Us:  safe!!  We dont know how to thank you!!  Please send me your email!  We would love to meet you!


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