The windy Cape - Some recent news and a touch of history

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April 10, 2004 #issue 03



Shark Hysteria

The Two Oceans Marathon

Cape Town events

Cape Town Road Rules

A Touch of History


Hi <> and welcome to the latest edition of the Cape Town e-Bulletin.

As we move gradually into autumn, Cape Town is bracing itself for an imminent general election, and voting day has been set for 14 April, which has been declared a public holiday in order to give prospective voters no excuse not to line up at the polling booths. An odd choice of date, some may think since it is the day that Cape school children are supposed to return to school after the Easter holidays.

The various political parties have been jostling for the attention of the voters and making promises left right and centre, as well as trying to trip each other up in one way or another.

The situation In this complex Cape society is such that it is not difficult to predict which party is going to be voted into power or indeed who is going to be the official opposition, but rather which smaller parties are going to be the most popular and just how much impact they would have anyway.

It would seem ironic that the majority of expected voters for the ANC in the Cape, belong to the large 'historically disadvantaged' sector of the population, many of whom are known as 'informals' and living in more squalid conditions than they were when they first voted the ANC into power 10 years prior.

The Cape Town e-Bulletin will put your finger on the pulse of this vibrant and fascinating city.

Find out what's happening in Cape Town from the street up.

You'll read about popular surrounding attractions - with a touch of Cape history thrown in..

Discover the people of Cape Town and what they do with their lives.

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Your Cape Town e-Bulletin will provide useful information to prospective Cape Town visitors - but hopefully you will also become a part of it..


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I look forward to giving you a monthly insight into the Cape lifestyle.


Ed Berry

Cape Town Travel Adviser
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Shark Hysteria

The recent shark attack off Muizenberg beach in which a teenage surfer was critically injured has raised the issue of 'chumming' once again. Chumming is the practice of throwing fish blood and offal into the sea from tourist or fishing boats offshore in order to attract sharks. Some feel that this draws sharks into areas too close to the beaches which presents a danger to surfers and swimmers.

Shark attacks on humans are few and far between on the South African coastline, resulting in general media hype and hysteria when one does occur. The experts concur that sharks are not predatory towards humans and that a human clad in a wet suit could be mistaken for a seal - the natural prey of a shark. This is however speculation and is not proven. Chumming on the other hand, remains a contentious issue, with some for it and some against.

The Two Oceans

10/04. Just finished -
The annual Two Oceans Marathon, which is an event publicised locally as the world's most scenic marathon. It is in fact 56 kms of toil over undulating terrain for a good number of the entrants. A record 9923 entered the race, and another 8120 the 21km half marathon which is held in conjunction with the main event. Traditionally 10% would be expected to drop out before the start. This year the event took place in cool wet conditions, and the finish area on the sports field at the University of Cape Town was churned into a quagmire as the runners came in. This years Two Oceans winners: Men: Marco Mambo (Zimbabwe) 3h 7m 41s Ladies: Yelana Nurgalieva (Russia) 3h 37m 50s.

The Two Oceans marathon began in 1970 as a training run for the longer Comrades Marathon and has developed into a prestigious annual event attracting the best ultra distance runners from Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Prizes for men and women have been standardised and strict entry qualifications have been introduced. More information here Two Oceans Marathon

Cape Town events..

In Progress -
The South African version of the Dutch North Sea Jazz Festival is another popular event taking place in Cape Town on 8,10 and 11 April. The 5th staging of this annual jazz extravaganza is at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Among some of the world's top jazz musicians taking part, expect to find Cassandra Wilson, McCoy Mrubata and Jonathan Butler. The event is expected to attract some 15,000 people daily. In 2003 the organisers of the festival were handed the Western Cape Tourism Award for Best Tourism Event.

The North Sea Jazz Festival originated in Holland where it developed into a world renowned and prestigious event. The South African counterpart provides the opportunity for local African musicians to showcase their talents alongside their European counterparts. More information here
North Sea Jazz Festival

Some Cape Town Road Rules

Drive as fast as possible during rush hour and use all the lanes at your disposal.

Learn to swerve suddenly without warning to avoid errant pedestrians or potholes.

Slow down abruptly when passing an accident and make sure you see what is going on.

Never come to a complete stop at a stop sign due to the danger of being struck from behind.

Drive as fast as possible through a red light to lesson the chances of an accident.

Remember to use the two fingered gesture as a polite greeting and expect one in return.

Don't worry about fastening your safety belt. In the event of an accident you need to exit your vehicle as quickly as possible.

A Touch of History

Cape Gales of the 19th century. (Source: Cape Argus 26/2/1982)
The Cape of Storms is known for its blustery conditions at various times of the year, but on Jan 3 1857 one of the worst gales in living memory was experienced in Table Bay. Ships in the Bay were simply torn from their moorings. Cape Town harbour at that time in the 19th century was unprotected by a breakwater and sheltered anchorage. Ships were moored in exposed positions and often found themseves at the mercy of the elements. The vicious gale on that Saturday evening left 12 vessels beached high and dry on the south side of the bay within 24 hours, many of them damaged beyond repair by high seas.

What was then descibed as 'The most disastrous gale that ever raged in the southern hemisphere' took place in Table Bay on May 17 1865. A mail steamer and 17 sailing vessels were driven ashore onto Woodstock beach. Two ships, the City of Petersborough and the Athens were sunk with all on board - 60 people died. According to the Cape Argus newspaper at the time, such terrible scenes had never before been experienced. First boat to founder and sink was the anchor boat Stag while attempting to assist desperate passengers and sailors. Other ships were blown in turn onto sand and rocks close to where the Castle is situated.

There were 28 vessels anchored in Table Bay when the storm struck and 18 of them were lost. Wreckage was deposited at the very gates of the Castle. One brig was carried so high it dislodged a gun in an embrasure on the walls. The captain of the liner Athens, David Smith, tried desperately to save his ship. He steamed out to sea and rounded the nearby Mouille Point. But disaster struck and the liner was engulfed by the storm. Water doused the engine room furnaces and she was driven ashore to within a short distance of the beach. All that could be done by rescuers in those terrible conditions was to light fires to serve as beacons for those able to swim ashore. But despite their efforts, all 29 on board were to lose their lives.

The following day no trace of the Athens remained. Part of the boilers and engines were carried away towards Mouille Point where they remain today as a grim memorial to all the vessels which had been washed ashore.
The irony of the tragic episode was the fact that a breakwater was under construction at the time but not advanced enough to prevent or diminish the disaster. Even when it had been completed, it was discovered to be inadequate.

That's all from me for now <>. Speak to you next month.

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