Before sunrise on Saturday morning, 18 July 2009, a group of keen photographers assembled in front of the distinctive bright-red Old Clock Tower at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. This clock tower, which was completed in 1882, was the original Port Captain’s Office. I walked all around it, but couldn’t figure out how to get inside. It’s rather a striking structure.
“Situated near the site of the original Bertie’s Landing Restaurant, the Victorian Gothic-style Clock Tower has always been an icon of the old docks and has become an important focal point in the Waterfront’s recent urban design. This was the original Port Captain’s Office completed in 1882. On the second floor is a decorative mirror room, which enabled the Port Captain to have a view of all activities in the harbour. On the bottom floor is a tide-gauge mechanism used to check the level of the tide. Restoration of the Clock Tower was completed towards the end of 1997.” (V&A Website)
While we were waiting for everyone to assemble, I took a couple of photos. It’s the perfect time of day for taking photos – there’s an enchanting quality to the light, and the shadows are so much stronger, as well as longer.
Ever so slowly, the sky lightened towards the north-east. I love the tranquility of these moments before daybreak.
Gradually, the group started to move. It was by no means an *organised* walk, as everyone pretty much just ambled around with their cameras, looking for suitable motifs, playing around with camera settings. Some were equipped with heavy-duty equipment, massive zoom lenses and tripods, while others had mini-cameras and I even spotted a cellphone camera or two! 🙂 Some people knew each other and clustered together, chatting animatedly among each other in between the serious business of trying to get that prize-winning shot!
On the other side of the swing-bridge, the African Trading Port house was lit up by the rising sun.
“The African Trading Port has the enviable reputation of being one of the ‘must stop’ spots for African arts, crafts and furniture at Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront. African Trading Port in Cape Town is so much more than just a curio shop. It offers 3 floors of art and craft suitable for collections, home decor and personal use. This includes an excellent selection of sculptures, jewellery, tableware, textiles, ceramics, and furniture.
You will find one of the widest ranges of large, collectable items such as sculpted giraffes that stand six feet high, chairs and tables made from indigenous hardwoods, stone carvings that weigh several kilograms, beautiful hand-crafted pottery or delicate ostrich eggs – all of which require special shipping, which is arranged in-store, giving you peace-of-mind that your larger or more fragile purchases will make it safely back home.” (African Trading Port website)
Numerous large sculptures and carvings of stone and metal are on display all around the building. This must be one of the giraffes they mention:
It being a working harbour and all, there are of course many types of ships and sailing vessels of all sorts, like these peaceful looking sail boats.
Or if you prefer a noisier adrenaline rush, you can roar and crash across the waves by speed boat.
And if you have a big enough team of oarsmen and -women, you can propel one of the decorative dragon boats from one end of the harbour to the other to the rhythmic booming of a set of drums. This one, fastened securely to a jetty, needs a lick of fresh paint.
There is even a Pirate Ship in the harbour!
“The Spirit of Victoria is a traditionally designed 58ft Gaff Rigged Schooner .She has been operating from the Waterfront since 1991 and has become the most recognisable Charter boat in Cape Town. Her distintive Gaff rig with red brick brown sails and her pleasing lines make her also most videoed and photographed. She flies the Jolly Roger from her main mast and is also known as the “Waterfront Pirate boat”. The Spirit of Victoria offers regular sailing trips to Table Bay, and is popular with pirate based charter themes. Spirit of Victoria offers a casual no frills sailing experience. Wooden bench seating protected within a well deck allows protection for passenger while the crew sail the ship. A real sailing experience.” (Waterfront Boats)
Personally, I prefer my feet to be planted firmly on the earth.
On our ambles, we found these strange-looking igloos. They’re called geodesic domes (to read a bit about the history of this design, you can try here and the Wikipedia). I tried to find out who built them here at the Waterfront, or why, or what they’re supposed to be used for, but haven’t yet succeeded. If you know, please tell me!
We went inside, of course; they were completely empty, and very cold (I guess they must be air-conditioned somehow). We found that there is an odd echo that amplifies the sound of your voice, depending on where you stand. I wonder if they are supposed to be used for functions?
And just to prove that this was the Waterfront in Cape Town, here is a shot of the restaurant at Quay Four in the foreground and Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the background.
And here’s one final shot of a little motor boat chugging out of the harbour basin and heading out to the big wide ocean. I love the light in this shot, it’s almost unreal, but I promise, I haven’t tweaked it. It took me a few attempts to capture the revolving green light of the beacon on the pier, so I am really pleased with it.