Cape of Storms – trawler stranded on Clifton Beach

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Sun 13 May it was all happening, helicopters, tugs, policemen, etc. My pic from rooftop car park  on Clifton First.

The last week in Cape Town has been pretty interesting from local and maritime perspective. The legendary Clifton Beach, usually famed for its white sands, epic sunsets and complete calm (even in the teeth of a howling south-easterly wind – which is worth gold in midsummer Cape Town), has been the centre of much attention in the last week for different reasons. At dawn on Saturday, May 12, the Japanese fishing trawler, Eihatsu Maru, ran aground on Clifton First Beach in the midst of a dense ocean fog, suddenly blotting this usually pristine stretch of the Atlantic Seaboard, smack bang in front of Cape Town’s most desirable real estate.

Other than poor navigating, the circumstances under which the trawler ran aground are still unclear. With various salvage attempts being unsuccessful during the week, it was starting to look like this vessel might well become a permanent fixture in the neighbourhood. But finally, on Friday 18 May, the tugboat and towrope combination on a proper high tide, finally dragged the Eihatsu Maru off the Clifton First sandbank and back to Cape Town harbour, where it now rests, in need of some TLC before its fate is decided by owners and insurers. The cost of the salvage operation could be in the region of R7 million and whether the insurers or the local taxpayers will be paying for that remains to be seen.

Took my daughters to check it out on Sunday.

Anyway, all in all, this quite novel scenario was one for the Clifton history books, in my 40 years in Cape Town there certainly has not been a shipwreck there. And it is with mixed feelings that we say goodbye the Eihatsu Maru. The local surfers will probably be unhappy that their chance of a new surf break is gone, as will the 7 year old boys (and adult boys!) of Cape Town who had so much of fun watching all salvage action: tugboats, helicopters, rubber ducks, police patrols, tv camera crews and more. On the other hand I am sure that the owners of the properties on the Golden Mile will be much relieved that their views of the perfect Clifton sunset over white beach sands and sparkling sea has been restored.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention my favourite moment of the whole saga: when the Butler’s Pizza dudes (dressed in bow ties and cummerbunds!) waded out to the boat at low tide and delivered a load of freshly made pizza to the crew on the boat, who were clearly in need a change of scenery in the food department by then! Photo by  by Nic Bothma

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