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.
We were stuck above the second and much higher 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.
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!