"Hello, Darling. I might be home a little later than usual"

I’ve just been watching this on the BBC TV news.

Yesterday, a boat was adrift off the coast of Bali, Indonesia for over 30 hours. The tourists aboard are running out of water and getting desperate so what do they do ?

One, a 19 year old girl, writes a text message SOS on her mobile / cell phone and sends it to her boyfriend in England. He’s in a meeting but gets the message a little while later.

Then he contacts the British Coastguard who try to contact the Indonesian Coastguard but can’t. They speak instead to the Australians and eventually both get hold of the Indonesians.

In the mean time all the mobiles / cell phones on the adrift boat start ringing (flat sea, longer distance ?). It’s getting bizarre on the boat. As the search planes are beginning to organise, the boat finds land and everyone onboard is finally safe.

It’s all getting weirder, folks !

Hey, a GSM means that they can track you down, right? I think it’s possible to pinpoint a call to a location pretty specifically. Weird, but a good thing, all in all.

Of course, sending an SMS to the UK because you want the local Indonesian Coast Guard to wake up makes little sense. The silly git could have programmed the local emergency number in her phone, something I always do whilst abroad (and if my phone works - I always memorise the local emergency number though).

At least she had the presence of mind to do something, instead of sitting around like a gerbil.


What I want to know is, if she could text-message the guy, couldn’t she have just called him and left a message that wasn’t in morse code? Was she concerned about using up her free minutes for this month? I don’t get it.

The story is here but is not very helpful on the details


Seems what she sent was:

“Call Falmouth Coastguard, we need help - SOS”
Lux– I guess she’s only 19. I don’t know, it does seem a little strange. Maybe they weren’t thinking of all the options after so long adrift.
Coldie - With a regular cell / mobile phone, I suppose the phone company track the message to the original receiving station and the rescuers arc out seaward from that location ??

Or maybe the rescuers could do the old movie chestnut and triangulate but, I’d think, that would require a constant signal. If either the batteries were dying or the phone only connected intermittently, that would be a problem.

Coldfire: FYI, if you dial 122 in your mobile phone, you will automagically connected to that country/regions emergency service.

Actually I think that might be 112

Make you’re mind up, Ell - the batteries running out !! :smiley:

Some details from the other news media:

Apparently the phone wouldn’t make outgoing calls. Why it could send text messages in that case, I don’t know, but it explains why she didn’t call the local emergency services or the boyfriend.

Why Australia? The Falmouth people phoned the local (Indonesian) rescue services, but couldn’t get a hold of anyone who spoke English. They then phoned the Australian authorities, who presumably had more experience in dealing with the relevant services.

I can’t believe they were close enough (about 900ft) to get to shore on surfboards, and they still couldn’t get rescued.

Some mobile phone contracts allow you free SMS text messages, but not calls.

Plus, perhaps, if you make a call, you might find the line engaged or the 'phone switched off, but a text message will float around like an e-mail until the 'phone is available to receive it. It does sound as though she was the only one to do anything at all about the situation.

They tell you, when you are stuck in horrible traffic on the few roads of Bali, that half of the people driving are taking a message to someone. This is because the phone system is so dodgy. And not just long distance but local calls too.

If you’re in business it’s quite annoying as you can’t rely on being able to get anyone on the phone at any given time.

They also have what they call ‘rubber time’. This means the boat/train/plane will arrive when it arrives whatever your ticket says.