Cape Vidal Storm Disaster

We took the trailer and found a lovely campsite and settled in.

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Tom was a mad keen fisherman and Jess loved the waves. Blissful. Peaceful. Tom had hs first real fishing rod – a huge surf rod given to him by Trish’d Dad Gompa Neil:

Cape Vidal Oct 2005 (6) Cape Vidal Oct 2005 (4)

Jess was keen on gymnastics and swimming then.

Cape Vidal Oct 2005 (2)

While the gillie unties knots and baits up, the fisherman dreams of big catches:


Hurry up, gillie. I got fishin' to do . . .

C’mon gillie, move it up!

Gillie prepares the tackle. Ace fisherman looks on.

When we got back to camp from the beach things had changed: The Boksburg and Benoni Fishing Club had moved in with their V8 4X4’s and their boats with twin 200hp Yamahas and surrounded us! There goes the neighbourhood, we thought. Huge tents and gazebos and afdaks and windscreens, caravans and trailers had sprung up, complete with large braais, TV satellite dishes and you-name-it!

Lovely people. We soon struck up a conversation with our nearest neighbour. The club had been coming to Vidal for their annual By-Die-See excursion for decades. Highlight of the year, he told us. That night there was revelry and much smoke and brandy, but not too late – they planned an early start the next day to get their boats out to sea to fill their hatches and deep freezes. Serious fishermen, these.

After things settled and went quiet a while, a big storm sprang up. Soon the wind was howling through the trees and our trailer-top tent was rocking. I climbed down to check all was secured. Soon afterwards I heard an almighty crack and the sound of something heavy falling and striking a tent pole. Uh! Oh! I thought and listened to the voices in the dark all around us, barely audible above the howling gale.

Soon a few engines were started and I thought “Here we go, they’re revving up their 4X4’s and the boat motors ready for a first-light departure”. Then a chainsaw started snarling and I thought “Give it a break, guys! Wait till morning!” but it carried on, mayhem!

At last there was quiet. Next morning I hailed our neighbour:”Hey! Did you survive the storm?” He came scurrying over and in a hushed voice said “Yes, but Joan didn’t!”

Turns out a massive branch had fallen on top of one of their friends sleeping in a tent, missing her husband by inches. Friends of ours camping nearby went to assist as the lady was a vet. She had to give them the sad news that Joan’s chest was crushed, she had no chance and had died instantly. The police arrived, then a mortuary van. The whole club packed up and left to accompany Joan’s husband home, the adventure over before it had really started.

We had a look at the branch: Now in pieces, it had been over 3m long and over 50cm in diameter and had fallen from about 10m up. What a bummer.

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