The weather in Cape Town over the New Year’s weekend was uncharacteristically damp and chilly. We were feeling too lethargic after our return from our most recent pilgrimage to sun-scorched Namibia to spend Christmas with the folks, to attempt anything more energetic than a quiet amble down to the shops to pick up the bare essentials such as milk, butter, bread and the weekend newspaper.
By Sunday afternoon, fortunately, the seasonal south-easter had blown away the cobwebs, the clouds and the drizzle, and we felt ready to venture out into the world once more.
We soon found ourselves on Dolphin Beach with its picture-postcard views of the iconic semi-circle of Cape Town’s mountains: pyramid-shaped Devil’s Peak, flat-backed Table Mountain, softly-rounded Lion’s Head and smooth-sloped Signal Hill.
Towards the north, and just off the shore of an otherwise pristine white beach, we could see the wreck of the Seli 1, a Panamanian-registered Turkish coal-bulk carrier that was stranded here during a gale in September 2009, after hitting a sandbank (News iAfrica and another article). The coal has since been removed from the vessel, which caught fire most dramatically in June 2010 when welders were attempting to chop up the ship into salvageable pieces (New24.com and see Video Clip).
It seems that the authorities haven’t yet figured out what to do with the ship (<a href=”Facebook), whose hull has started to show cracks (News iAfrica and Ports and Ships) . The overseas owners defaulted on their insurance payments, so the insurers refused to pay, and now South Africa (i.e. presumably the tax payer) sits with the mess. Simply extraordinary, how they can get away with such unscrupulous and cowardly behaviour.
On the up-side, however, it has apparently improved the surf! (If one ignores the occasional oil leaks, that is…)
The wind was howling here, as it usually does during the summer months. It was also whipping up a layer of fine white sand, which sped northwards across the length of the beach, millions of sharp needle-points pricking the skin. Not exactly optimal weather for strolling along the beach, playfully splashing through the surf, and searching for shells and unusual stones from the sea, which is kind-of what we had envisaged. The combination of fine sand and salty sea air, driven by powerful winds, is also not ideal for taking photographs with a sensitive digital SLR… sigh…
However, the roaring wind had attracted more kitesurfers than we’ve ever seen in one place.
We stood on the beach, just below the dune ridge, watching in amazement, as dozens and dozens of colourful kites caught the wind and strained at impossibly thin lines. Kitesurfers in wetsuits, safety helmets and harnesses, balancing on short boards and leaning back against the force of the wind, allowed themselves to be pulled out to sea by the billowing kites. We marvelled at how they were able to turn around, speeding back towards the shore, occasionally leaping off the top of a wave just as it broke, so that they flew a couple of metres above the crashing surf.
It was quite awe-inspiring!
Happy New Year, everyone!