We rented a car again the other day. Since we're here for a bit longer than anticipated, David has decided to tackle the cap rails … a project that he will undoubtedly explain in a later Blue View. The new project required some supplies that were heavy and not readily available within walking distance. Car hires here are not expensive, by the way. A compact car with unlimited mileage and insurance coverage runs less than $20US/day … not too bad on the budget at all. Since we had the car, and the scavenger hunt for supplies wasn't an all-day endeavor, we decided to take a ride. On several occasions, our friends on Wind Wanderer had mentioned a neat little restaurant that they'd tried along the False Bay coast in a little town called Kalk Bay, about 25 minutes from Cape Town. It was the first fair day we'd had in more than a week. It was cold and clear, but the wind was howling as we set off from the yacht club across the Cape peninsula. We stopped at Sunrise Beach to watch the wind surfers do their thing. Man, were they ever flying along close to the shore in the 30-40+ knot winds.
We passed through several little coastal towns that might have warranted a look-see on a calmer, warmer day. Downtown Muizenberg looked like a war zone. Off-season road construction made the going slow and the main street sights painful to the eye.
The road hugged the coastline. Opposite the beach at St. James, charming historic homes overlooked the sea. Colorful surfer shacks lined the shore in vibrant contrast to the grey, foaming sea beyond and the more sedate, graceful mansions across the street.
We came around a curve and saw the sign for Kalk Bay and pulled over. The beach had been gobbled up by the surf. The waves were stupendous as they crashed onto the shore. From a distance, we could see the little boat harbor. The red navigation light at the end of the seawall was taking a mighty beating. I had seen photos taken at this very spot before, but I never thought I'd be taking any quite as dramatic.
We made our way into town and across the Metro railroad tracks into the muddy parking lot of the Harbour House. From the outside, the place didn't look all that appealing, but inside was a different story. There were several little restaurants operating independently. We were looking for Live Bait and found it almost immediately. Fortunately, it was mid-week and off-season and we secured a lovely table for two by the window. Live Bait is on the ground floor of the Harbour House and its windows are even with the rocky shoreline and the sea wall. The wave action was unbelievable. The menu was interesting, but the view had all our attention.
We felt ourselves flinching, a natural reflex as a monster wave pounded against the window just beside us. We could feel the thud of the powerful smash and then heard the gasps and oohs and ahs of other restaurant patrons as tons of angry sea slammed into the windows. Lunch was wonderful, but it was hard to concentrate on the cuisine. Good food is still no competition for the power of Neptune. We lingered over lunch and watched intently, totally mesmerized. The tide was coming in and as it did, the already gargantuan waves increased, becoming more and more thunderous. What a show!
When we finally left the restaurant, we noticed several people on the harbor pier, as fascinated as we were with the spectacular wave display. Despite the wind, we headed out to join the small crowd and noticed several big sea lions sitting on the wharf, waiting out the chaotic seas and catching up on their rest.
Fish filets, hung out to dry under a covered area of the wharf, flapped in the breeze like flags. Cormorants, begging for scraps, gathered around a man cleaning fish.
Out on the pier, the wind was fierce and cold, but the incomparable spectacle more than made up for the discomfort. Big fishing boats pitched and rocked, straining on their lines. The combination of wind, waves and boat noise was near deafening, but oh so exhilarating.
We stood on the wharf and watched till we were chilled through and through. Our faces and hands were red with cold and wind burn. It was late afternoon now and reluctantly, we returned to the car for the drive back to Cape Town. It was a breathtaking experience, happily witnessed from land and gladly not from the decks of Nine of Cups.