27 January 2010

A Windy Day in Cape Town

It was a windy Saturday where I spent a couple of hours on the water in the south-easter* as it blew through Cape Town. It was the Royal Cape Yacht Club's Croc's Regatta, but this time we were watching the other yachts beating into the wind and waves trying to get around the course that was set for them. It was blowing hard and we knew that things were going to get broken, but we were not racing which meant we could take it easy.

A brave soul on a kite-surf flew past us (I didn’t have time to take a 2nd picture).

As we passed by the Waterfront  the sea smoothed out, the wind died and we had to turn on the engine. We joined the racing fleet that was waiting out the time between the races in the quiet waters of Granger Bay (which is sheltered from the wind by Table Mountain). The Cape Town Stadium loomed above us and was only dwarfed by the mountain itself. There was a disturbance in the water and some white foam appeared. I was confused as I couldn’t hear the jet-ski’s (the usual culprits) and then… a whale! There it was. Brilliant white and black set off against the blue. It was making the most of the calm waters before setting off on the long journey to the Southern Ocean.

We watched until the whale disappeared and then bobbed around a little longer. It was peaceful and quiet, the wind dampening the sounds of the city. The silence was only broken by the banter between the crews.

We had to brave the wind once again to get back into the harbour – where we met another visitor from Antarctica. It had strengthened and I was glad that we were not joining the rest for the next race. Things (fortunately no people) did get broken. Sailing the next day was cancelled and the headlines reported that the wind reached 170 kph (106 mph) over the weekend (equivalent to the wind speeds of a Cat 2 Hurricane!).

* The south-easter blows about 3 or 4 times a week from December through March and is responsible for the iconic “table cloth” on Table Mountain. It is known locally as the “Cape Doctor” as it blows all the pollution away (along with everything/one else not tied down). Its strength usually ranges from 37 kph (22 mph) to 65 kph (40 mph) – tropical storm strength. Sometimes it comes with lashing rain and the news the next day is full of stories of the destructive force of the wind. This is known as black south-easter, but fortunately it doesn’t occur too often.


Dave and Deb said...

Wow, what an exciting day! Glad you weren't racing that day or you never could have stopped to enjoy watching the whale! Capetown is so beautiful. I love how table mountain has a little table cloth of clouds over its left peak in your shot.

Kim said...

Thank you. Your comment could be taken in the wider context of life! Very apt.