- (Cape) Doctors
- story by Steffi Wahl (translation by
wave- and windgirl Steffi Wahl is a frequent
at the Cape of Good Hope. Here is her story.
Capetown, the metropolis in the South of
Africa, and its surroundings have fascinated us right from the beginning. We arrived there
in February and got addicted immediately. In my eyes there are only very few places in the
world that offer you perfect conditions for windsurfing, clean breaks for surfing,
fascinating landscapes, wildlife and the pulsating life of a city at the same time. Apart
from that, there are so many different cultures to explore, which, almost surprisingly,
seem to co-exist in harmony.
So I´d say forget about all the myths that people have
spun around the sharks of South Africa and read this travel report only to get
prepared for your own adventure there. The best season for windsurfing is European
winter, from November to March the Cape Doc will
give you a demonstration of what blowing like crazy means (Cape Doc, by the way,
is the local name for the south easterly wind.). That and water temperatures between 10
and 15 °C in the Atlantic and 20-25°C in the Indian Ocean, respectively, have lead us to
speak of South Africa as our windsurf paradise.
Having the right weather conditions, which you can tell by
having a look at Table Mountain and checking the Table Cloth
(name for the typical clouds hanging over Table Mountain like a linen on a table), you can
be almost sure to have wind every day. Then it´s time to check out Sunset Beach. There the wind is coming in side-offshore,
port tack. Unfortunately, the conditions get quite choppy when you´re on 4,5 or smaller
and it´s not too good for jumping either, considering that it´s gusty where the waves
break. The break is due to a sandbank close to the beach, and that makes Sunset Beach a
unique place for waveriding when the swell is not too big and wind´s still moderate. Sensational
wave rides with an amazing background provide the right stuff for the glossy surf
The more the wind picks up, the more northwesternly you
can go along the coastline it might get too windy on Sunset Beach
anyway. Similar wind conditions as just described is what you find at Big Bay, but the
waves here are steeper, real ramps. On both sides of the bay there are rocks, and since
it´s a rather small bay it gets crowded easily. On days without wind, Big Bay is the
city´s main paddle surf spot. 15 km more to the Northwest is Melkboss, a
spot that due to the chaotic break and the wide sandy beach, reminded us of
our Northsea. On the water, you quickly figure out that the waves here, other
than what we know from back home, are powerful and the wind is sideshore, guaranteeing
great wave riding again.
The next stop on the R 27 if you head northwest is Silverstroom
Strand. Here we get a day with 2 meters wave and steady side-onshore wind from
the left, perfect for jumping and reminding us once again of home, but this time of the
Ostsee (northeastern shores of Germany). On days with loads of wind and swell
you should consider the 80 km to Yzerfontaine worth the trip. Yzer is our
declared favorite, because its long wave allows you riding it till you just gotta take a rest! The surf rolling in has to turn
around a spit of land which makes the waves come into the two bays with some nice distance
In case there´s no wind in Capetown although the forecast
promised southeasterly winds, you have two otpions. Either you go for a Freestyle session
in the lagoon of Langebaan, where the wind has pass to through some kind
of channel between two hills and therefore is stronger than elsewhere. You can even get
some waves there if you´re lucky, rolling from the Atlantic into the lagoon in the
northwestern part of it. We get good sailing with admittedly chaotic waves of 2 meters at
Club Mykonos, while Capetown itself has no wind at all.
The second option would be the Cape of Good Hope. When the
wind comes directly from the Southeast, windsurfers meet at Platboom Beach.
Driving there is definetely a thriller of its own since the weather is extremely unsteady
around the Cape. We can´t believe our eyes when we get there. No wind except for a 1 km
wide stripe where you can sail on 5,0. On the left and right side nothing at all. At
Witsands and Scarborough, not too far from where we are and great with some swell, the wind´s even coming from the opposite
direction. Amazing! When we get back from this day´s sailing, with a bright smile on our
faces, reporting from wind, waves and sun, we earn views full of envy and suprise.
Capetown and its surroundings
The very few days without waves and wind offer a wide
range of activities. A day spent in the typical wine regions, 60 km north of Capetown, can
be great fun, tasting all the excellent wines in many of the wineries. Capetown itself has
a lot of culture to see or listen to, like Jazz concerts, an IMAX-cinema, theaters, so
called Goah-parties and some big fetsivals. What we really like is the Summer Sunset Concert every Sunday in the botanic
garden of Kirstenbosch, which is just right for relaxing. Who´s more into House music
will definetely find something in the inner city of Capetown. Around Long Street and Lope
Street there´s plenty of places to go. If you want to learn how to play the drums, don´t
miss Drum Café.
Greenmarket Square is also in the inner city, and
here traders sell their African goods, which you can have for a good price as
long as you know how to bargain and beat down the price at least to half o the original!
Still no wind and no waves in the morning? Well, we decide to hike on the Table Mountain,
which, a 100 meters high, from the top gives you a splendid view of Capetown, Robben
Island and Camps Bay. Whoever finds the hiking is still not enough for the day can check
out the view from 3000 m during a tandem parachute jump offered by the Cape Parachute Club
fo a reasonabel price.
Both the lush nature and the wildlife are unique in teh
Cape region. You see whales when paddle surfing, seals who join you in surfing the waves,
and even penguins but these only in Boulder at the Cape of Good Hope. Some of the
guys dressed in their black suits, however, enjoy fooling around with Henning.
In the evening, you have to have a BBQ, in Afikaans, a local language, that´s called
Braai. Everyone just loves to barbecue, so braaing is the main
hobby of local people. That doesn´t mean you always have to take care of cooking
yourself, dining out is cheap, a third of the German prices. Our choice: The Panama Jacks! After a good day of sailing it´s
also cool to meet your friends for a
sundowner. The Blue Peter Hotel in between Table
View and Big Bay is very nice for watching the sunset sipping a Savannah.
After three awesome weeks with Cape Doc he seems to be
gone for a while. So we also plan to move on, packing the surf boards and heading to the
Indian Ocean to check out the famous surfspots like Jeffrey´s Bay and Cape St. Francis,
that we know from the movie Endless Summer. After a while,
the landscape turns very lush and beautiful and we are stunned by what southafrican nature
has to offer. The first time we get out of the car is in Tsitsikama National Park
where, after some walking, we indeed get to the suspension bridge that this place is known
for. In the same evening we travel further to Cape St. Francis and get to a friendly youth
hostel named Seal Point Backpackers. It´s here
where the South African Longboarding Championships take place and we actually get to see
some good action.
If you feel like buying a surf board you should definetely
do that in Jeffrey´s Bay. You can choose from a big range of local shapers. That is what
we do, and with less money but more toys on the roof racks, we get a great surf session in
the afternoon. We get a vague idea about what surfing is like in the Indian ocean, not
only because of the 15 dolphins playing around us. Our next stop is the Addo
Elephant Park, 80 km north of Port Elizabeth. None of us has ever seen one of the
Big Five in wildlife, so the 30 elephants promptly appearing out of the bushes to drink
and shower quite relaxed at a water hole, only 20 meters away from us and only divided by
a fence, cause a good portion of excitement on our side.
With these everlasting impressions we take on the way
back, which is 850 km to Capetown Cape Doc seems to have returned and we are
looking forward to two weeks more of windsurfing.
Tips for the traveller
For a lot of people, Capetown is only known as the city
with the worldwide highest criminal rate, but it´s also one of the most beautiful
places on earth! You should, however, be aware of a few things. The extreme
difference between rich and poor is a fact, but when not walking in the townships and
acting with some responsibility like you also would back home, there´s little danger, and
in the suburbs like Milnerton and Tableview you are as safe as in your own country. At
almost all of the gas stations there are ATMs, which at least also work with European
EC-cards. Just be aware of pocket thiefs.
You can also buy prepaid cards for your GSM cell phones,
which are reasonably priced. Shopping is, from our point of view, very economic. Pick´n´Pay is a unbelievably bing supermarket and
there´s also Century City, a recently opened,
huge shopping mall.
For those of you who´ve never been to
Capetown and don´t know anyone where they could stay, or even, if your trip is only as
short as two weeks, we recommend the Surfhostel
(www.surfhostel.com). If you have a bad crash, it´s good to know Second Wind on the R 27 in direction of Capetown
for all kinds of injuries concerning your equipment (board and sail repairs) and Milnerton Medi Clinic for injuries concerning
yourself or a friend.