Published: 12 March 2015
By:Jean le Roux
Jean Le Roux, NSRI Hermanus duty coxswain, said:
"At 19h00, Sunday, 08th March, NSRI Hermanus duty crew were activated following a call for assistance at a popular cave site at De Kelders, Hermanus. It appears that Chantel van Schalkwyk, 24 had taken boyfriend Pieter Zeeman, 30, (both from Worcester) to explore the popular cave on the shores of De Kelders at 16h00 (Chantel had grown up in the area). Spring high tide had cut them off and they were unable to get out of the cave and with night falling they grew concerned but with no cell signal they decided that Chantel should stay behind and Pieter timed the sets and managed to make a run for it in between the wave sets in an effort to go to call for help. Having made it out safely Pieter raised the alarm and myself and 2 crew members, Alwyn Geldenhuys and Andre Barnard went to investigate. On arrival on-scene we were able to peer down the cave blow hole (also a popular site and the blow hole is surrounded by a man made stone wall to prevent sightseers from falling in) and in our torch light we found Chantel in the dark cave, about 18 meters below us, cold and concerned but otherwise unharmed, simply cut off from exiting the cave because of the Spring high tide. Through the blow hole we lowered a blanket and a torch to Chantel and decided, based on the conditions, that it was not necessary to escalate the call to a full-scale rescue operation, to have her hoisted out of the cave through the blow hole which was one option, and that rather with proper timing of the wave sets we would be able to get Chantel out safely from the sea side. With Andre Barnard kee-ping watch from the top of the cliff (with Pieter Zeeman), myself and Alwyn Geldenhuys managed to reach the cave entrance by timing the wave sets and apart from getting a bit splashed by the sea water we reached Chantel and then again timing the wave sets we made a dash for it together and reached safety without incident (safely out at 20h00). Apart from a few scratches and bruises Chantel was not injured and once safely out the couple required no further assistance."