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Cape Town

Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

21st March, 2019

Well we set off back south again from Mozambique, making best use of the warm Agulhas current which gave us 3 knots of help southwards…at one stage this little ship was exceeding 21kts ground speed! With this extra help from mother nature, it gave us a few hours to spare en-route to Namibia which I thought would be well spent at trying to visit Cape Town again but hopefully this time in nicer weather...

And so it was on the morning of Thursday, we found ourselves for the second time approaching this grand port of call. Not before we had conducted a spectacular sunny breakfast / brunch sail-past of Cape Point and the surrounding coastline, with educational commentary being given by our port presenter along the way. The most notable feature of this particular coastline for the Captain to take heed was the amount of shipwrecks littering it. Not wanting to become the next Master in a long list to come a cropper here, I made sure I was in attendance on the Bridge throughout, keeping a close watch on our progress weaving through the safer passages.

Sea birds, whales, seals & dolphins all joined us for our scenic sail-by, making for a very pleasurable morning. Just before midday, we found ourselves making entry again into the gloriously sunny but infamously windy Cape Town. We would spend the afternoon and evening here before departing at approx. 23:00. Passengers were offered a free excursion up Table Mountain…however, the weather got the better of us again unfortunately and thee authorities closed the cable car due to excess winds – however all was not lost as a scenic city tour ended up being delivered instead, visiting several viewpoints and highlights.

A further day at sea led us to Namibia and our first call there into Luderitz. This small village on the barren, windswept Namib Desert coast was founded in 1883 when a German chap passed by on behalf of another German chap and purchased some land for him in the hope of establishing a trading post. At some stage thereafter, most fortunately for these gentlemen, diamonds were discovered to be loitering in abundance in surrounding grounds, and as a result the town quickly grew & boomed in the early stages of the 20th century.

Today many of the diamond mines have shut, and Luderitz itself stands mainly to support a little fishing and tourism. In fact, unemployment sits at an astonishing 70%!! The little town is pleasant enough and fairly German still – with coffee shops, delicatessens and even a Lutheran church. About 5 miles inland stands the ghost town of Kolmanskopp, a once prosperous diamond mining residence. In the early 20th century, upon the accidental discovery of precious stones sparkling in the sun, people flocked from all over with jars, buckets & spades – anything that could be used to store the valuable mineral in.

Kolmanskopp prospered for several decades as a result, and for a short time partly due to its small population it had the highest wealth per capita in the world – the local doctor was even known to prescribe caviar and champagne! However, the good times could only last so long, and as the town’s resource became scarce coupled with a larger diamond deposit being discovered 100 miles further south, people started to leave. The last residents left the town in 1956; and since then it has been left to the desert sun. A few parts of it have still been preserved in their original state (e.g. the original music hall, built by a highly-reputed entertainment specialist) but most of the town’s bones lie to be walked freely amongst by visitors.

Returning from the town, we took a 4WD scenic drive along the coastal dirt/sand track passing seal colonies and massive kelp fields, before reaching Halifax Island (housing a penguin colony) and passing an old whaling station prior to returning to our little ship; by far the biggest in the small town’s harbour. Once everyone was back enjoying afternoon tea, it was time to sail further north up the coast to our next Namibian port…

Captain Kim Tanner

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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