After a challenging Indian Ocean passage, we were ready for some land time and what better place to explore than southern Africa! Come with us as we travel inland to incomparable game parks and unique experiences, then make our way down the Wild Coast of east Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope and complete our world circumnavigation in Cape Town.Read More
Dias named it the Cape of Storms when he rounded it in 1488. Portugal's King John II changed the name to the Cape of Good Hope, in anticipation of finding a trade route to India. In 1580, Sir Francis Drake called it the "The Fairest Cape in all the World". It's the legendary home of The Flying Dutchman, whose ghostly crew is forever doomed to beat its way around the cape without ever successfully rounding the headland. It's the domain of the castigated Portuguese mythical Titan, Adamastor, who sunk ships trying to enter his domain in the Indian Ocean.
We slipped from our berth in Simonstown into the calm, flat waters of False Bay just before sunrise.
Seals raised their flippers and jumped in the air. Dolphins swam at the bow. Birds dipped their wings. All Neptune's creatures seemed to be celebrating with us as we prepared to round the Cape of Good Hope.
The 60 nautical mile daytrip began as benignly as a passage can be. The sun was soon swallowed up by grey skies as we motor-sailed to Cape Point with light, variable winds and a little current behind us.
The last time we were at the Cape of Good Hope, it was on land at South Africa's Cape Point National Park in 2007.
At that time, we had gazed out on the Atlantic from the top of Cape Point, looking down on the lighthouse below.
This time, we had a different view of the lighthouse ...
and a whole different view of the Cape of Good Hope.
David hauled out our best Mauritian rum and offered Neptune a good tot, thanking him as always for his continued protection of Cups and crew as we rounded the fifth and last of the great southern capes and headed to Cape Town … at last.
Do you remember learning about Vasco da Gama in elementary school? As we contemplate rounding the Cape of Good Hope in the near future, we think about those intrepid explorers of the 15th century who were doing all this for first time. The memorial clock along the foreshore in Durban reminded us of Vasco da Gama and his major contribution to world globalism and commerce.
Even with our GPS, chartplotter, Navionics charts on the iPad and weather forecasts, there's still some concern for this upcoming passage. It's hard to imagine just setting out with no idea of what to expect like da Gama did. Heck, they'd only recently figured out that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were connected and calculating longitude wouldn't come along for another three centuries!
Born c. 1460, Vasco da Gama, a Portugese navigator and explorer during the Age of Exploration, was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, around the Cape of Good Hope. This was a monumental discovery in that it established a trade route to India known as the Spice Route and it also gave Portugal a leg-up in establishing their colonial stronghold in Asia.
He made a total of three voyages to India, his final voyage as the Viceroy at Cochin, appointed by the King to handle the corruption in the colony. He died there in late December 1524. We thought it fitting to remember him on the anniversary of his death for his contributions to maritime history and his several successful roundings of the Cape.