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04 December 2016

No 14 POST – CAPE AGULHAS LIGHTHOUSE


No 14 POST – CAPE AGULHAS LIGHTHOUSE
A lighthouse at the Southern tip of Africa is what the early mariners needed. This is it, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It was built from locally hewn limestones blocks in 1848, largely at the insistence of the public. Today it is a national monument and in good condition, as seen in the views from the land side and sea side.




Hold your hat, as the wind is still blowing. High seas and strong winds all along this Southern coastline explain the high number of wrecks. A more recent one is the Meisho Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel, which came ashore in 1982. The bow section is still standing and is much photographed by the tourists. All 17 seamen managed to swim ashore.



This area is well frequented by tourists, so there is plenty of accommodation. We stayed in one of the SANP chalets, all of which have a seaview. A must of course, for all tourists, is a photograph at the Southernmost point of the continent.




The lighthouse is open to the public for a small fee. After a steep climb, there are good views from an outside walkway below the light. Tidal fish traps are visible to the East. While at the lighthouse many visitors miss two interesting features.

The grave of Daisy Rowe is in the island in the car park. She was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper and died of diptheria. Her exact date of passing is uncertain, as the tombstone and the cross show different dates.
There is also a small cave in the limestone just to the West of the lighthouse.
When one is in the area, a visit to the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp is certainly worthwhile.
 
 


No 13 POST – QUOIN POINT LIGHTHOUSE
This lighthouse is in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, but there are no gates to hinder access. It is visible at the turnoff off the road to Buffeljachts and is accessed along 5 km of difficult sand and limestone road. It is unmanned.

 
 
Contractors were laying paving around the lighthouse and adjacent accommodation for lighthouse maintenance staff and equipment, during our visit.

The final approach to the beach was across a beach. The houses at Quoin Point were built by the descendants of two families who regularly assisted survivors of shipwrecks on this dangerous section of coastline. As a reward the families were granted the right of use of this area and no doubt creating an obligation to assist future unfortunate seafarers, or maybe fortunate, to have survived !





 


03 December 2016


No12 POST – DANGER POINT LIGHTHOUSE

Danger Point lighthouse is situated at the tip of a peninsula and associated with the unfortunate loss of the Birkenhead. The closest town is Gansbaai at the base of the peninsula. This is a magnificent lighthouse and in very good condition. Views are in the afternoon sun and the following morning.
 

The “museum” within the tower houses the various types of light used since inception in 1895. Initially pressurised paraffin combusted through a mantle producing the light, but this was replaced in 1937 by a 4000 watt electric globe powered from a diesel driven generator. The power source was changed to Eskom in 1970 and the wattage could be reduced to 1500 and later to a 400 watt metal halide lamp.


The traditional system of descending weights to operate the rotating light has been replaced by small electric motors.

 
Certain lighthouses offer accommodation and we stayed here overnight. Our host was Robin and the 3 bedroomed accommodation is highly recommended and is well furnished. Anyone wishing to reserve this accommodation should book through Tasneem at 021 449 2400 or E mail to lighthouse.tourism@transnet.net .
 
 
 
 
The Birkenhead Memorial, commemorating the loss of 445 souls, is a plaque set in a waist high concrete base. A groove in this base is lined up with the Birkenhead rock where the swell breaks on occasion. This was the case the next morning. The rock itself is below water level and about 2 km offshore. 
 
 
 
This smaller plaque is set into the wall of the lighthouse.
 


The seaside resorts of Kleinbaai and Franskraal are also on the peninsula.
Kleinbaai is the base of the shark cage diving industry as it is the closest harbour to Dyer Island which is frequented by Great White sharks because of its seal population. It is amazing how this industry has grown so rapidly.
 
 
The Strandveld Museum houses Oom Jan’s private collection of memorabilia and this is to found at Franskraal.
 
 
 




20 November 2016


No 11 POST – HANGKLIP LIGHTHOUSE

This lighthouse is on the Eastern point of False Bay near Cape Town and was built in 1958.


We could not get close to the lighthouse due to a locked gate and being a very windy and cold day we decided not to walk the estimated 400 metres to it. This picture was taken from the boat launching slip on Maasbaai.

 
A baboon (extreme right below) was very curious, but nonchalantly kept his distance when we approached.
 
Anyone visiting this area should take the trouble to visit the nearby Stoney Point nature reserve. This is one of only two continent based Jackass Penguin breeding colonies in the World. It is occasionally ravaged by a leopard coming down from the mountainside.
This area was also a whaling station in years gone by and the remains of a whaler can be seen in what was the harbour.
 
Moving into the reserve one can observe more penguins, other sea birds and white horses! The latter behind the man made structure confirms the wind mentioned earlier.

The background to this structure is explained. I guess we can’t count this as one of the 45 we hope to visit.
Parents and babies confirm that this area is a breeding sanctuary.
 
 




 
 

19 November 2016


No 10 POST – SUMMARY HANGKLIP TO CAPE INFANTA
The second lighthouse viewing trip was successfully completed in November 2016 as seen by the high five salute at Cape Infanta lighthouse on a beautiful day.



Six lighthouses were viewed in the 3 days, 3rd to 5th November 2016. They were Hangklip, Danger Point, Quoin Point, Cape Agulhas, Struispunt and Cape Infanta. Separate blogs follow on each. Highlights were the very friendly people encountered on this trip and the excellent accommodation at Danger Point lighthouse.

10 Nov 16



17 June 2016

No 9 POST – PORT NOLLOTH LIGHTHOUSE

This lighthouse was the next destination. Heading further north from Hondeklipbaai Lighthouse we encountered a cloudburst. The heavy rain turned the gravel road into a skidpan and a nerve wracking, uncontrollable, 4 wheel drift skid resulted. John handled it superbly. It is a pity we could not photograph the skid tracks as the heavy rain could have damaged the camera.
At one point there is a superb tar road thanks to De Beers. On arrival in Port Nolloth the first stop was for fuel. This is something to watch as there are limited fuel stations in this northern section.
The Lighthouse is located on “Beach Road” and viewing it (in the rain, unfortunately) was the culmination of our trip. The congratulatory handshake photo has been shown previously.

It was on this site that we met Gawie Brandt (orange overall) who is the resident Lighthouse official in Port Nolloth.  He explained the history and mentioned that the Lighthouse, currently on the town side of “Beach Road” will probably be repositioned to the sea side. In fact, it may be sited on the concrete base of the first Lighthouse. The base is visible to the right of, and behind John. In the foreground is the electrical fog signal emitter.
Gawie also explained a signalling system previously operated by the Lighthouse keeper. A basket (with yellow band) would be hoisted to the top of a wooden mast to advise vessels to remain at sea in the event of heavy swells making entry into the harbour dangerous.
  
A “must” when in Port Nolloth is a visit to the PN museum. It is between the Lighthouse and the harbour on “Beach Road”.


Here one will meet George, a retired diamond diver. He would explain the history of PN, the copper mining era (when copper ore was exported from PN) and the diamond mining (diving) era. The history of the various Lighthouses at PN can be seen on the door behind George.
    

With time in hand we decided to start the trip back to CT, sleeping at Springbok. Between PN and Steinkopf, this melanistic springbok was sighted.
    

Somewhere along the trip we did enjoy a celebratory dinner.   
    

The drive back was uneventful and we arrived timeously at the CT airport for my flight back to Johannesburg and John proceeded on to Hout Bay. Thank you to the LH personnel (Wayne, Samuel and Gawie), to Joe for his advice, and to John for the use of his vehicle and all his driving. We look forward to further exploration and adventures.

Drafted : 16 June 2016.


16 June 2016

No 8 POST – HONDEKLIPBAAI LIGHTHOUSE

It was with considerable relief that we left the corrugated sand road through the Southern end of Namaqua National Park and approached Hondeklipbaai on a much better road. For safety, we immediately took our “proof” photograph.
  
 
With time in hand we explored the town and located the actual rock after which the town is named. It is a rock type referred to as gneiss (pronounced “nice”). My view that this is a “dropstone” i.e., carried from afar by glacial ice millions of years ago and dropped when the ice melted.
  
 

In earlier years the town was an export harbour for copper ore mined inland. Today, the town survives on crayfishing and tourism. That is the wreck of the Jahleel in the background.


We overnighted in the Hondhokkies. Just as well we did our photography the day before because ……………, but this was just forefront.
 

Drafted  : 14 June 2016