05-Jul-2005 -- This morning at 8:30 a.m. we had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and now we are already on our track directly to Lagos (Nigeria). 34S 18E lies about 45 km (28 miles) west of Cape Town in the open sea, and even though the area today was wrapped in numerous clouds and low fog was prevailing, we could manage to see something.
Looking East, towards Cape Town, we see the Table Mountain and Lion's Head. Looking to ESE we see the mountains on the Cape Peninsula, and to the SE there is the Cape of Good Hope.
South Africa, or more precisely the Cape of Good Hope, was discovered in 1486, by Bartholomeu Diaz, who named it Cabo Tormentoso (Stormy Cape). But King João II of Portugal, convinced that it was the turning point of the long-desired route to India, gave it the name of Boa Esperança (Cape of Good Hope). These convictions were confirmed eleven years later by Vasco da Gama, who then rounded the Cape and landed in what is today known as the province of Natal. In the year 1652, the territory was colonized by the Dutch East India Company under Van Riebbeck, and continued in their possession until 1795, when the British Government took possession. But at the Peace of Amiens in 1802, the colony was ceded to its former possessors. In 1806 it was again taken by the British and its possession confirmed at the general peace in 1814. In 1910, the Cape Colony, together with Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal, was merged into the Union of South Africa, and in 1961 the country became a republic. A new constitution tasked with producing a multiracial form of parliament was signed into law in 1996. The population of South Africa is about 46 million.
Finally, looking towards West a tanker, the "Rainbow" was passing us en route towards the Cape of Good Hope.
Except for the visibility, and although already in southern winter, the weather is wonderful today. Having a look on the surface analysis, which we received by radio-fax from "Cape Naval Meteo", we see a small Low over the Cape Province and two extensive High pressures west and east of South Africa, which will provide us with favourable southerly winds well up to Angola.
The local weather in this area, especially from mid-April to mid-September, do often back to W and SW and increase to gale force. The worst weather and heaviest swells are normally experienced after the wind has backed and the swell continues for some time after the gale has blown itself out. The heaviest swell comes from WSW or SW giving rise to the notorious "Cape Rollers" which, when coming in on the beam, make it uncomfortable for ships to the extreme.
Fog and poor visibility can be expected in the vicinity of Table Bay. The worst months are April to July. The fog is often low lying, and a lookout positioned high up is usually able to make out the masts of other ships.
Cape Town is one of the largest ports in the southern hemisphere. The principal exports are fruits, wine, juice, concentrates, meat, fish, granite blocks, copper ingots, textiles and industrial products. Cape Town is situated around the south part of Table Bay. The city is dominated by Table Mountain, a national monument and World Heritage site. The well known silhouettes of Devil's Peak, Lion's Head, Signal Hill and Table Mountain provide an unmistakeable background to the city. The silhouette of Table Mountain as viewed from the North is probably one of the best known panoramas in the world. On the navigational chart we can see the Cape area.
As already mentioned in my previous South African visit of yesterday, 34S 26E, I am now on a very modern ship. We even have got a computer on the navigating bridge, and somebody has installed highly thrilling adventure games, and to kill all monsters requires a lot of skill, which I am still lacking.