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A game of recovery

21 February 2013, 09:01

It was a beautiful day, the sea was as calm as a mill pond and  a Saturday to boot.  My parents decided to pack up the braai accoutrements and collect cold beer on the way. All was loaded into the Valiant and we made our way to Langestrand which was a strip of beach stretching several kilometres, clean and devoid of litter and rubbish unloaded by less particular visitors.  The beach was quite a distance from the road so few people visited it.  On arrival we parked the vehicle so it could be seen from the sea.  It felt like being back in the army again: toting and sweating with the braai gear, awning and its poles. So we lay around, enjoying the sun and sand.  Quite a lot of drift wood had been washed out of the sea and after it was collected we could spare our own local kameeldoring hout. 

Later a convoy of military trucks passed us and parked a few hundred metres from where we were camped.  After some time we heard the convoy start up again but two were reversing into the sea. I knew what was coming because I had seen it before.  The beach had a sloping profile and so it connected to the sea and the water was fairly shallow.

The two trucks entered the water and when the depth was satisfactory they were halted, the trucks were cleaned and   The idea was to flood the engine compartment and in a given time.

 The truck would be driven out under its own power and of course that means the petrol engine had been partially submerged and had to be dried.  In this case one of the trucks rear wheel had become stuck in a tidal hole and could not budge.  The tide was coming in and one could see the soldiers frantically running around trying to free the truck. Later a rope was acquired and tied to the trucks. It broke within a metre but the truck remained stuck.  Quite a bunch of fishermen and their families were standing around offering advice which was accepted with a scowl and not used. Soon the wheels of the truck were underwater but the truck stayed put.  After some hours a roaring was heard and a recovery military vehicle passed us on its way to the mini disaster lower down.  When it stopped the recovery guys, amid much shouting and issuing orders reversed their truck close to the truck in the water.  A chain was connected to the vehicles and broke when put under tension.  We left late that afternoon but by Sunday the truck had been removed. A point of interest is that while the truck is in the water a back-                          wash around the tyres washes the sand away and the wheel sinks deeper.

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