New Year’s Weekend Kitesurfers at Dolphin Beach

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.

The familiar mountains of Cape Town, as seen from Dolphin Beach

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 ( and see Video Clip).

Kitesurfers in front of the Seli 1 shipwreck

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…)

A kitesurfer is airborne in front of the shipwreck

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.

Making it look sooo effortless

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!

22 thoughts on “New Year’s Weekend Kitesurfers at Dolphin Beach

    • Hello Helen! Thank you – and the Happiest of New Years to you. It was quite strange to be away from the internet for so long, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, both with regard to reading other people’s blogs, and writing my own. I look forward to reading yours again too. Bye for now. πŸ™‚

  1. Good to know your back in Cape Town. Beautiful images… all that wonderful blue sky and surf. Those kite surfers are amazing. I never knew about the ship wreck…. just goes to show how much things change when one isn’t there for so long. Take care and have a great 2011. Hugs and sloppy toddler kisses to you both from the two terrors!! πŸ™‚

    • Good morning, Sean, wonderful to hear from you again. Best wishes for a superlative 2011 to you and your gorgeous family – and hugs and kisses to your two little terrors! πŸ˜‰

  2. HI Regina!
    Great to read your blogs again – keep them coming. Loved your kitesurfing pics. You made me quite homesick! Wishing you everything of the very best for 2011, Deirdre Scheibert

    • Hello Deirdre – how wonderful to hear from you again – and am pleased that you are enjoying the photos, even if they are making you a little homesick. πŸ™‚ We wish you and your family all the best for 2011 too: may it be a fantastic year!

  3. Happy New Year to you, Reggie! I has been a great pleasure to follow your blog her in 2010 – and to dream of visiting your lovely country once in the future πŸ˜‰
    It looks like you had a wonderful day here at Dolphin Beach, I guess you have nice warm summer weather these days in South Africa?!
    I could use some your summer now: We had record-low temperatures (-23 dgr. Celcius) in December, and we had snow and frost for more than 4 months in 2010 – another record……

    • Happy New Year, Truels! πŸ™‚ I have also really enjoyed following your blog, so I shall continue with that in 2011. And who knows, perhaps you will visit South Africa one day, and I shall visit your country? That would be fun!

      Yes, we are having very hot temperatures in the “Mother City” today – about 35 deg Celsius according to the weatherman, though probably it is hotter than that in the city centre, where all the buildings retain and reflect the heat. In Clanwilliam, which is a couple of hours north of Cape Town, the weather report said it would be a minimum of 31 and a maximum of 43 deg Celsius. Can you imagine?!

      Snow and frost for more than four months?!?!?! Good grief, that sounds quite dreadful. Do you at least have blue skies during winter? Or is it just grey and dark?

  4. Oh, it is VERY hot around you!
    It would be a pleasure to show you around here in Denmark πŸ™‚ – so we will see, who comes first!
    We have frost and snow – but in fact December 2010 also gave this record: The most sunny December ever (since they started registrations in 1920)!!! So I have enjoyed (and photographed!) many sunny and white days in December last year!

  5. The photos look surreal. The colorful kites look out of place in front of the ships. It’s a strange world. You did get some great action shots of the surfers.

    Nasty business that the wreck is left for South Africans to sort out.

    • Thanks, Amy. It was a tricky situation for taking photographs with a digital SLR – I was very conscious of the fact that the strong wind was blowing tiny sand particles at the camera and the lens, so I could only take photos with my back to the wind and a scarf pretty much wrapped around the whole thing. Apart from that, I know that the sea-salty air makes the sand a bit sticky, which could damage the lens. It would’ve been much better to use a small compact with a big zoom, like our mutual friend Kathy used to use before she took the leap into digital SLRs! πŸ˜‰

      As for the wreck, yes, I really wonder how the owners and the insurers can get away with it. Surely, in this globally interlinked world, this cannot be possible? Mind you, I suppose there are unscrupulous countries that don’t… er… give a flying katootie about their reputations on the global stage. And I don’t think (though I could be wrong) that South Africa has particularly close trading or diplomatic ties with Turkey (country of manufacture and nationality of rescued sailors), Panama (country of registration), or Russia (country of insurers), so we might not be able to exert much/any pressure that way either.

      I’d love to know what is going to happen to the wreck, and if it’s going to be chopped up into little bits… and whether they will be shipped back to the relevant countries with a cross note, “In future, don’t dump your junk on our shoreline, or we’ll do the same to yours!!”

  6. Hi Reggie, I like your photographs, you have a good eye for balancing the subject(s) and background.

    I am seeking permission to use one of your photographs but couldn’t find your contact info on this site so I figured I would just use the comment to get your attention. Email me when you get a chance. Oh, and I am a real person, this isn’t spam.

  7. What a beautiful beach, I enjoyed to imagine being there right now. I want to wish you a happy new year, and tell you how interesting I find it to read your blog and learn about South Africa from another angle than the one we usually hear from, around here.

    • Thank you, Giiid. After seeing photos of all the SNOW you have had in Denmark, I can well imagine that you’d enjoy walking on one of our beaches here right now. All the best for 2011!

  8. Welcome Back, Reggie!!

    As a fellow South African I would like to thank you very sincerely for the stirling work that your site does to portray our country and its people in a positive light.

    Your caring, positive and gentle nature allows the reader to experience a view (both in words and visuals) that is untainted by the vitriol that all too often accompanies commentary on issues these days.

    I think that you deserve official recognition. And, just to let you know… I am on it (and you know how influential I can be when I’ve made up my mind about something…lol).

    Watch this space, people!!

    • Well, I hope you will someday have an opportunity to visit. It is a long way to travel from the Netherlands to South Africa (around 10-15 hours flying etc. depending on where you go), so it is best to give yourself about 2-3 weeks to explore as much of the country as possible. If you have more time available, Namibia, our neighbouring country just to the north, is very beautiful too with lots of tourism opportunities. It’d be wonderful to welcome you and your family to Cape Town someday, Malou!

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