The Cape Of Storms

Kalk Bay lighthouse
The light house at the entrance to Kalk Bay harbour

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful coastal holiday destinations anywhere in the world, our summers offer warm breezy weather for months on end with the ability to head inland and within an hour be nestled deep in the lavish vineyards of the wine  route.

So Why Is It Called The Cape Of Storms?

So how come it also has the infamous name ‘The Cape of Storms’? The name can be traced back to the 1480s by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias – typically the big storms hit the Cape during the winter months (June, July, August and sometimes September) with torrential downpours, gale force winds and huge oceans. Years later it was renamed to the Cape of Good Hope to sound more appealing to ocean travelers of the times.

Stormy Surf
Stormy Surf at Muizenberg Beach

There is also the meeting of two oceans just off of Cape Point / Cape of Good Hope – where the  mixing of the cold Bengula current from the west mixes with the warm Agulhas current from the east which can also produce fantastic storms where many ships have run aground and wrecked off the coast.

What Ship Wrecks Can Be Found in Cape Town?

  • SS Thomas T. Tucker – this huge cargo ship can be found on the rocks of of Olifantsbosch Point in Cape Point, where it ran aground on the 27th November 1942 whilst raking war supplies to the allies who were engaged in the North African with the German Nazis. Attempts to refloat the ship were undertaken early April 1943 but was unsuccessful. Whilst now it is battered and twisted it is  a haven of ocean and marine wildlife.
  • SS Lusitania or just The Lus – This particular ship wreck actually forced the government to build a new lighthouse! The existing lighthouse after completion in 1860 was found to often be covered in low hanging mist in storms which would obscure the light! 18th April 1911 a light storm with mist and drizzle obscured the light house and the SS Lusitania was dragged closer to Bellows Rock than it wanted – the Portuguese ship later slipped off Bellows Rock and sank, she now sits roughly 37 meters below the water! The new lighthouse was completed in 1919 which sat far higher than the old house.
  • M.V. Nolloth – This Dutch 347 coaster struck Albatross rock on the 30th April 1965 and large parts are still visible on the beach at Olifantsbosch. The Nolloth at the time was loaded with fine whisky, fortunately most of it was recovered, but a few bottles were reported to have been stowed away in caves along the coast where fisherman used to frequent! This ship wreck also marked the first time a helicopter was used to rescue the crew, a rope and pulley system was used up until this point.

Cape Town Summer Storms

During the summer months the Cape Of Storms takes on a much calmer feel – the warm weather (which typically lasts 4-6 months) persists and brings the deepest blue skies! It does also bring summer trade winds which at times (but not often) can be gale force in strength, but with Cape Town sitting on a peninsular and rugged mountain terrain there is always a sheltered beach on offer! The summer trade winds have been lovingly named the Cape Dr as it blows away all signs of air pollution which results in stunning clear and crisp views.

False Bay Storm
Stormy False Bay Seas

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