Posts Tagged ‘McDougall Bay’

Pick of the Pix.

As some of you know I am a professional photographer working out of Cape Town, South Africa and hope that the photographs in my posts have been fairly interesting. The professional  work  has been connected to theatre  and dance so this type of photography was pretty new to me. After having a look through all the photos from the trip I decided to do this post of a few that I think stand out from the rest.

Interesting to note that only 2 of the photos were taken with a high-end camera – actually a not so high-end Canon 20D with an 80-200 2.8f lens – and all the rest with a point and shoot type Canon G7 camera. I was truly amazed at the quality of the G7 and it was only for the photos of  birds that I switched to the 20D.

Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.
Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.

This is one of my favourites and I am using it as the desk top of my computer.

Beach at Alexander Bay.
Beach at Alexander Bay.

The feeling of desolation in this photo sums up the story of Alexander Bay itself.

Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Every sunset at McDougalls Bay seemed to produce  different tonal qualities.

Ship wreck at Port Nolloth.
Shipwreck at Port Nolloth.

This happened fairly recently and they were  hoping to re-float her.

Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.
Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.

Not much chance of re-floating this wreck!

Spot me if you can.
Spot me if you can.

Photo of very well camouflaged chameleon taken near Kleinzee.

Dragline taken at Kleinzee.
Dragline taken at Kleinzee.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Flowers near Springbok.

Flowers near Springbok.

According to most of the locals I spoke to 2009 has not been a great year for flowers.

Seal on the edge.

Seal on the edge at Hondeklipbaai.

About 10 seconds after I took this shot the seal took a headlong dive into that churning white water.

Still standing!

Still standing! (Dooringbaai)

Talk about the power of the sea – the noise when that wave hit that wall was like thunder.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

The noise, and to be honest the smell, when you went down wind of these thousands of Gannets was quite something.

Bird on the wing.

Bird on the wing.

Toutch down at Verlorenvlei

Touch down at Verlorenvlei

Both bird shots above were taken at Vensterklip using a Canon 20D camera.

Well I hope you have enjoyed looking at the photographs as much as I did taking them. Hopefully there will be plenty more, at new locations, in the coming months.

Alexander Bay to Elands Bay – The Lows

I have been back in Cape Town for a week and had some time to think about my trip through the Richtersveld, Namaqualand and the West Coast. There are still so many more places that I want to visit on my voyage of discovery as my original aim was to travel the whole of the SA coast over a 3 year period. So after 2 months of my journey is this still what I want to do?

I am going to start with the lows as most of these occurred  at the beginning of my trip and, apart from one or two problems later on, the majority of my journey was great.

The biggest low for me was the problem of my new deep freeze which just did not do the job. I had bought a lot of frozen food before I left Cape Town as I was not sure what would be available, and at what cost, in some of the small towns I was going to. Having to throw away over R500.00 worth of food was a real downer. This  happened at Brandkaros which is 27 km’s from Alexander Bay. The drive to Brandkaros was also a low as the road was terrible for towing a standard caravan and caused some pretty heavy damage.

My site at Brandkaros

My site at Brandkaros

One of the worst problems I had at Brandkaros was the troop of about 30 monkeys that came into the park everyday and caused chaos by over turning the rubbish  bins  and jumping on the caravan and tent. The first time it happened I just wanted to pack up and leave.

Not one of my favourite animals.

Not one of my favourite animals.

I did find out, after a day or two, that they did not like the crackling sound of the shock-stick that I had with me.

I found that some of the caravan parks were badly run down and poorly maintained with the worst part being the ablution blocks. Some of them are appalling and here I think of Brandkaros, McDougalls Bay, Lamberts Bay and Elands Bay. If only the managers or owners of these parks knew how much caravanner’s talk amongst themselves about the parks and basically judge them on the ablution facilities. A prime example of this was Kamieskroon that everyone raved about, which had very average sites but fantastic ablutions.

Brandkaros ablutions. Really bad but I was told just before I left that they were budgeting on spending quite a bit of money to upgrade them.

Brandkaros ablutions. Really bad but I was told, just before I left, that they were budgeting quite a bit of money to upgrade them.

McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort.

McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort?

McDougalls Bay ablution block.

McDougalls Bay ablution block.

What a place of contrasts. The site was the most run-down and yet was the most expensive  on the first night that I stayed there as it was “in season” and cost me R123.00. You can not leave anything outside as people just walk up off the beach and steal. They also have a big problem with beggars. Even when I went back there after Brandkaros they wanted to over charge me. McDougalls Bay itself is stunning and it is such a pity that they do not do more with the caravan park.

Lamberts Bay Caravan Park.

Lamberts Bay Caravan Park.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

Elands Bay Caravan Park.

I stayed at Lamberts Bay but not at Elands Bay and have put them together as they both fall under the same name and telephone number for information and management. Lamberts Bay is bad but from what I saw Elands Bay is shocking. Sadly both have been badly neglected. I say sadly because with good management and an injection of funds by the municipality both have the potential to attract a lot of people into the area all year round.

Lamberts Bay Harbour

Lamberts Bay Harbour

I enjoyed the town of Lamberts Bay but found the street sellers and beggars to be very aggressive and make life very unpleasant.

Something that I can not understand is the inconsistency of  pricing at the  parks. I paid from a low of R45.00 per night at Kamieskroon to R123.00 per night at McDougalls Bay. As I said Kamieskroon was great McDougalls Bay not!! One thing I did pick up on was that where there was competition  the better and less expensive the sites were.

Overall not too many lows and I know that when I post the highs they will be strongly in the majority.

George Moyses – Diamond diver

I met George on one of my walks along the beach soon after I got to McDougalls Bay. He was being interviewed by  Get Away Magazine so I said I would catch up with him on another day. He has become quite famous in the area as he was also recently on SABC 2 in the 1st episode of a  programme called “Shoreline”. It took me a number of attempts to catch up with him but yesterday I was eventually able to sit down and hear his story.

George in front of his house which is right on the waters edge.
George in front of his house.

George, who is 57, is a well spoken friendly guy, who has been living in the area for the past 30 years earning a living as a diver, extracting  diamonds from the sea at various locations along the West Coast. He is passionate about the sea and diving. He is also a keen surfer and windsurfer and enjoys the solitude of living on his own at McDougalls Bay in his small house on the beach.

The house right on the beach front.
The house right on the beach front.

Training at Simonstown.
Training at Simonstown.

He received his diving training while serving in the navy at  Simonstown.

It was near Simonstown that he and a friend salvaged a fishing boat, the Arabian Star, that had sunk without major damage.  They restored, fitted out and renamed her Blues Breaker, then  headed up the West Coast to try and make their fortunes.

Blues Breaker.
Blues Breaker.

I have watched a video that George  made called “Diamond Divers” and can say that you have to be slightly crazy to do that kind of work. It is incredibly dangerous, they loose at least 2 divers annually, very physical and really long hours for generally not much reward. George has been fairly lucky and only had one major accident, right at the beginning of his career, when he was hit in the face by a propeller.

They can of course strike it lucky and have a really good pay day, of maybe R100,000,  but that is an exception, a bit like hitting the lotto. They normally earn about R7,000.00 to R10,000.00 per month. These guys carry all the costs and only receive 50% of what they take out. They can only work when weather and sea conditions are favourable, which might be only 10 days of the month.

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Some underwater photographs of the dredging process.

George no longer works off his boat but  from the shoreline. They use converted tractors to haul all the pipes, pumps and sifters right on to the rocks. In the video you see them working in the gullies as they look for and extract the gravel that contains the diamonds. I would not last an 10 minutes  if I tried to do what they do.

The once proud Blues Breaker is no longer looking to good.
The once proud Blues Breaker is no longer looking too good.

George is a multi talented guy and supplements his income in different ways. He is a keen photographer and videographer  and has produced a video which he sells for R100.00. I bought one of the videos and it has some fascinating footage of what these men go through in order to make a living. Most of the divers seen on the video are not young, average age of 50+ , and must be extremely tough and fit to survive. Many of the younger, experienced, divers have left for the oil rigs where they earn a good wage and work in far better conditions.

Front Entrance to house.
Front entrance to George’s house.

He has converted part of his house into a small museum for which he charges R10.00 a visit and he also makes various articles from driftwood which he sells. He is separated, in a very friendly way, from his wife who lives and works in Port Nolloth and has 3 daughters, the youngest of whom is just about to matriculate.

George with old diving suite.
George with an old diving suite.
Model ship made from scrap wood.
Model ship he made from scrap wood.
Info about the model ship.
Info about the model ship.
George with some of the goods he sells.
George with some of the goods he sells.

I gather from the video interviews and what George says, that there is a lot of uncertainty as to how much longer these divers are going to be able to make a living if things do not change. Right now the only ones making  money  are the mining companies who take 50% off the top with virtually no cost to themselves.

UPDATE ON GEORGE:

This post about George has been one of the most popular and most read so I thought I would post a quick update, thanks to Ludwig Venter, an old school friend who caught up with George and family a few weeks ago. Ludwig sent me some pix so I am posting these for all who might be interested.

Ludwig and George meet again after 40 years.

George and wife Debbie

George with family.

George's cabin which is right on the high water mark.

Another update on George:

George went to his 43rd school class reunion in Senekal recently and his friend Ludwig Venter sent me these photographs to post on this site.

George with a group of old school friends

George with daughter Helen looking at a slide show of his school days.

George after a quick dip in the pool - still looks pretty fit for a 60 year old.

Having a nice cold one.

George checking out all the messages and photos about him on "Gone Fishing"

All the very best for the future George and may you strike the “BIG” one soon.


McDougalls Bay Caravan Park

The past 3 days, the weekend and Monday, have been pretty awful. It has been really hot, over 30ºC, and the wind has not stopped blowing at gale force all that time. There has been sand and dust everywhere and it has made me feel pretty depressed and lethargic. Being camped on sea sand does not help. Think Camps Bay Beach on a really hot, windy day when the sand is blowing all over the place.

Today, Tuesday, sees a complete change in the weather. It is overcast, a lot cooler, light breeze and feels like it could even rain sometime. It has also made me feel a lot better and keen to have a look around for more interesting places and people. I am still trying to track down George, the diamond diver, but he has proved elusive, and I hope to catch up with him later today or tomorrow.

Because I have been pretty well trapped at the camp-site I thought I might as well take some pix and show you what it is like. If you read some of my previous posts you will know that I was really given the run around as far as the pricing is concerned. It is a municipal site and I think their prices are too high compared to all the other municipal sites I have stayed at. They call themselves a Holiday Resort so have a look at he pix an see what you think.

McDougalls Bay Hoiday Resort?

McDougalls Bay Holiday Resort?

The security gate?

The security gate?

Unfortunately a lot of the time there is no one at the gate during the day and at night.

Brocken security fence from beach.

Broken security fence from beach.

Even if there was full time security at the front it would not make much difference.

Seasand site

Sea sand site

One of the 93 sites and they are all the same.

Electical connection

Electrical connection

Each site has an electrical connection but some of them are very unsafe.

Ablution block.

Ablution block.

What can I say? Why do all the camp-sites all have the same problem and yet the ablution block is the most important feature that one looks for. At least there is plenty of hot water.

Chalet

Chalet

There are 2 0f these right on the beach front. They charge R440.00 per night out of season and over R500.00 per night in season. There are also 15 smaller chalets at the back for which the charge is R210.00 per night.

Overall I think the “holiday resort” is pretty run down and to be honest over priced but the one factor that overrides most of that is the position right on the beach front. The sights, sounds and smells of the ocean, in the protected bay, are fabulous and go a long way in making one overlook all the shortcomings.

My camp-site.

My camp-site.

Right on the waters edge.

Golden sun set.

Golden sun set.

Not many places I know that one could take a picture like this right from your caravan.


A look arournd McDougalls Bay.

I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning walking round and talking to some folk in McDougalls Bay. Again everyone was friendly and prepared to go out of their way to help me. One guy even offered to give me some 4×4 driving lessons when I told him there are certain places I don’t take the Pajero as I don’t know much about 4×4. Think I might just take him up on that!!

Plots in McDougalls Bay, belonging to mine managers in the area, date back to 1855 and it is believed to have been the holiday resort of the rich. In 1960 there was renewed interest in the bay and plots could be hired from the municipality but only removable structures could be erected. This changed in 1986 when the bay was resurveyed and tenants could get ownership of their plots.

A guy called Jack Carstens found the first local diamond at a place called Oubeep just south of McDougalls Bay 0n 25 August 1925 but it was only in the 1970’s that the mining of diamonds from the sea started.

McDougall Bay taken from the North side.
McDougall Bay taken from the North side.

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Apart from the rough beauty of the place 2 things really struck me – one was the number of houses and plots  on the market and two some of the unusual architecture. It seemed as if every third or fourth  house is on the market and when I popped in at the local Seeff Office and spoke to Beverly Jackson I was given a list of all the properties and sites that are for sale.  I count 44 plots and about 27 houses listed by Seeff alone. There are also quite lot of B&B’s and Guest Houses in the area.

The price of houses range from about R450,000 to just over R2,500,000. One that caught my eye was this one below.

House for sale.
House for sale.

It is listed as being newly built but here is also a sign above the front door that reads 1894.

The Koi pool area.

The Koi pool area.

This house is on the market for R1,800,000 and consists of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 garages, a Koi pool, is also fully furnished  and  has a bachelor flat attached. Wonder what that would go for in say Yzerfontein?

Yesterday evening on my walk I met one of the real local characters, George who is/was a diamond diver, and I want to do a full post on him. Even his house is fascinating so thought I would start here with some of the unusual architectural  aspects of McDougall Bay.

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The house that George built.
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Ben’s Den

I have seen something similar near Hangklip.

Bigger is better?
Bigger is better?

This one is on the market for R1,530,000 and has 4 bedrooms and 31/2 bathrooms.

Colourful hey?
Colourful hey?

No ja well fine!
No ja well fine!

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On the market for R1,200,000

Netting harders.
Netting harders.

Spotted these 2 bobbing around in the bay netting harders. They were out the whole morning and I saw them pull in quite a few. I have been told that the fishing in the bay is very poor but I aim to try and disprove that in the near future. If there are harders around there must be other fish in the water.