A roiling sea

“I must down to the sea again, To the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” Familiar words to anyone who did the most rudimentary English literature at school, and possibly the only ones remembered by most. It’s as though the poem became more of a chore after that first flash of brilliance penned by the author, who couldn’t quite sustain the romantic tone. Whenever the seas rage off the Cape coast, as they are today, these words spring to mind and I remember that tumultuous seas have more of a fascination than the silky smooth seas of sultry summer.

We are in the middle of our sultry summer, with temperatures soaring to unbearable heights, yet a rogue low pressure slipping by has brought swells that have all the bravest big wave surfers careering down wave faces to rival the sheer cliffs of the Sentinel, the break curling over them as they streak white-waked from the barrels to be picked up and towed out for another adrenalin rush. Lesser mortals make do with the roiling seas of Outer Kom, Inner Kom and Baby Pipes, Sunset and Kakapo. The beaches are lined with admiring and awestruck spectators, waiting for the drama.

The wreck of the Kakapo was overrun by the tide, leaving it no longer high and dry on Long Beach, a landmark made famous in movies and myths. The sea reaches to the dunes, the beach scoured by the currents. Further along the coast, a large section of the rusted hulk of the Antipolis, which ran aground under tow off Oudekraal in 1977, has been heaved from Davy Jones’ locker back onto the rocky shore, where it is wedged like a ghostly reincarnation. I well remember the indignant landowner who woke up to find a ship on his shore in 1977, and demanded that it be removed forthwith as it was a blot on his landscape. It was indeed sheared off at low water level to appease him, although it was probably more for the scrap metal value at the time.

At night, the incessant roar in the bay soothes us to sleep – no seabirds call from their night roosts to disturb the night air, but they will return with sultry summer.

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