13-Aug-2005 -- Coming from Santos (State of São Paulo, Brazil), it is already my second roundtrip on the "Phoenix" to South Africa. This early morning we left Cape Town, and now we are again en route to Durban. At departure Cape Town it was still dark, but later, when sailing SSE along the Cape Peninsula I could make my first photo. And as it is such a beautiful scenery, just another one. Finally we rounded the Cape of Good Hope with its prominent lighthouse. What you see in front of it is not a whale blowing, but the dangerous Bellows Rock, a rock rising just about 1 meter (3 feet) above the water, and over which the Sea breaks heavily. The Portuguese liner "Lusitania" foundered exactly here, on Bellows Rock, in 1911.
But the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope is not the major topic we have to deal with today, - it is rather the confluence 35S 20E, and where the waters of the Atlantic Ocean merge with those of the Indian Ocean. At 3 p.m. we were at 35S 20E. It is the southernmost confluence one can visit in Africa, and checking out my visitor's map I realized quite surprised that I have now visited already three of the four synoptic points of this continent, - namely 38N 9E, the northernmost one near the Îles de la Galite (Tunisia), then 17N 25W, the westernmost in the Archipelago of the Cape Verde Islands, and finally this one off the South African coast. 12N 51E off Capo Guardafui (Ras Xafuun) in Somalia, the easternmost one, is still waiting for me, and for the time being I do not see a chance my trips will bring me close by in the near future.
Well, back to South Africa. Looking towards NW, we see Quoin Point with the Buffeljagsberg and the Koueberge mountain range. To the NNW there is the Soetanysberg, and finally looking exactly towards North, we see Africa's southernmost tip, Cape Agulhas, the "Needle Cape" (named so due to the numerous offlaying rocky peaks), with the Bredasdorpberge range in the background. To the NE we cannot see anything, as the country is flat there with just some sand dunes, but to the South we see passing a ship which nowadays really rarely can be seen: It is the "Cleveland".
Readers not being too involved in shipping will probably not find anything particular in her, but the "Cleveland" is something very special. She was built somewhen in the 60-ies, has 24 derricks and one heavy lift gear (the V-shaped masts aft of her accommodation). And she is still flying the US-flag! It is obvious that with such an aged and old fashioned ship no profitable business can be carried out, and this is not her major purpose, too. She is chartered by the US Navy and part of its "Reserve Fleet". This means that she is usually laid up in some remote corner of a US port, and only used in case of special necessity. Her present destination is Houston TX, and it is easy to guess where she is just coming from: Iraq. And it is very interesting for me to see that she is avoiding the Suez Canal. The distance between the port of Umm Qaṣr (Iraq) and Houston through the Suez Canal is 10,000 nautical miles, and via the Cape of Good Hope it is 12,700. Even though Egypt is one of the Arab countries at least officially still fairly friendly to the US, Navy seems to prefer to avoid the ship to be spotted over there. But this is not our confluencers' concern. I am just happy to having seen this beautiful "classic ship" still in service, and to make a photo of her.
This brings me to address an invitation to all these readers which are living close to a port, a river or a canal where ships are berthed or passing. Since a few months I am a member of Shipspotting.com. The purpose of this project is to make photos of basically everything that floats and to submit it accordingly. Similar to the Degree Confluence Project every registered user has his own album, and the special link to the photos I have already submitted is here. So, everybody having the possibility to see ships is invited to participate.
E.g. New Yorkers: Do you have a waterfront property on Staten Island near the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, the Kill van Kull, or on the southwestern tip of Coney Island? These were perfect places to see ships of all kind and nations all day long! Turkish readers living along the Bosporus (İstanbul Boğazı) see thousands of ships passing around the year, Germans residing at Hamburg-Blankenese along the river Elbe do have the ideal address for this project as well... Every picture is welcome and helps to maintain the history of World's fleet.
Further to the GPS display shot this time I can submit the position of the ship exactly on 35S 20E on the radar screen as well. My young officers are enthusiasts for such fancywork, and so they inserted the coordinates grid, just if I were not able to find the Confluence without it. ;-)