Cape Town may be some distance from Santa’s workshop in the North Pole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the Christmas holidays here. Sure, you’ll have to trade in the snow for some soft white beach sand, but a sunny Christmas can be magical too! There is plenty to do over the festive season in the Mother City. Here are just some of the activities to keep you busy.

 

Christmas markets

Christmas shopping can be tiresome, especially when you could be lying on Clifton beach or hiking up Table Mountain. Cape Town’s markets are downright delightful and social way to get your shopping done.

If you’re the organised type (who doesn’t leave shopping for the last minute), you might want to check out the events happening in early December. Cape Gift Market is held at the Sea Point City Hall and has been running for over a decade, and the Stellenbosch Kersmark features crafts and baked goods from over 180 artists and crafters.

Mid-December offers up the Fab Ideas Christmas Market in Kommetjie, and the Lourensford Christmas Market, where you can sip on a glass of wine between browsing through gifts and stocking your pantry with yummy festive foods.

If you’ve left gift-buying to the last minute, the Pinelands Craft and Gift Fair runs until 22 December 2018. There, you’ll find handcrafted cards and decorations, treats, woodwork, jewellery, plants, clothing and even vintage furniture.

buying_crafts_green_market_square

Festival of Lights

Every December, festive lights illuminate Adderley Street in Cape Town. You can check out the lights any night during the festive season, but it’s worth going to the official turning-on of the lights. The switch-on ceremony usually happens on the first Sunday of December, when Adderley Street plays host to a huge free street party.

There are stalls lining the street selling everything from food to Christmas gifts, and a live concert kicks off mid-afternoon. When the sun sets, the mayor officially turns on the lights and the colourful Christmas-themed lights depicting some of the city’s history brightens up Adderley Street.

adderley st lights

Carols by candlelight

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is the most obvious choice if you are looking to unleash your inner chorister. Held over four nights in the middle of December, the Carols at Kirstenbosch are a fundraising initiative of the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch.  The 30-year-long tradition sees families picnicking on the beautiful lawns whilst various popular musicians take to the stage. When the sun sets, glow sticks (not candles) are handed out, and the carols begin. Over the four days, this event attracts 20,000 visitors, so be sure to buy your tickets early!

The V&A Waterfront Amphitheatre usually hosts a choir around Christmas time too, and a number of wine farms also host carol events.

Kirstenbosch Carols

Santa’s Village at the V&A Waterfront

Join Santa’s workers in the North Pole where they will set up Santa’s Village at the V&A Waterfront’s Victoria Wharf. Santa will with children to find out what they would like for Christmas. The Village opens on Saturday 8 December and runs until Monday 24 December. It will be open all day and is free to enter.

Christmas at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town

Galileo Open Air Cinema, Kirstenbosch

The Galileo Open Air Cinema will be screening the classic, Home Alone, at Meerendal Wine Estate. Tickets get you a backrest, picnic blanket, something sweet to eat, and a Christmas hat. You can pack your own picnic, or buy food at the venue. There are halaal and vegetarian options, and you’ll find a huge selection including popcorn, craft beers and ciders, nachos and burritos, pizza, burgers, and boerewors rolls. Rumour has it that Santa and his helpers will be paying The Galileo a friendly visit. This is a great option for families with kids, and what better way to spend a Cape Town Christmas than lounging on the grass with a picnic and ice cold drinks.

 

Christmas Feasts

Spending Christmas away from home? Luckily there are plenty of places in Cape Town where you can sit down with your friends or family and tuck into a delicious feast.

 

Source credit: www.capetown.travel

So proud of our great team who consistently work hard, always with a smile, to ensure that our house is clean and tidy and our guests comfortable and looked after. We received our 4-star grading for the 9th year in a row yesterday!
Thanks for your encouragement and guidance over the years, Caroline Edge, of Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.

When picking your holiday accommodation, it’s easy to go by star gradings, provided you know exactly what they entail. However, there are many guests who are disappointed by their choice due to their (sometimes unrealistic) expectations not being met. After all, how do you know the difference between a 2-star and a 5-star graded establishment, really?

The breakdown

The TGCSA Star Grading is an independent quality assessment and official ranking system recognised around the world that helps customers realise the overall quality of the establishment and the kind of facilities they can expect. The accommodations are graded from 1-star through to 5-stars (with 1-star being the most basic in terms of facilities and 5-star being the highest, offering all the bells and whistles).

However, what many people often don’t realise is that you don’t have to be a super fancy hotel to be awarded 5-star status. When the accommodation is being assessed, the type of accommodation is taken into account. In other words, it’s possible for a small B&B or guest house to achieve 5-star grading, provided they meet the relevant criteria.

Sylvan Grove Guest House (TG)

Accommodations are divided into 9 categories

  1. Hotels
  2. Lodges
  3. Bed and Breakfasts
  4. Guest Houses
  5. Country Houses
  6. Self-Catering facilities
  7. Caravan and Camping sites
  8. MESE (Meetings, Exhibitions and Special Events) venues
  9. Backpackers and hostels

What does each star mean?

Before we start, it’s important to note that the criteria for each accommodation varies according to the type of establishment it is. Simply put, a 3-star B&B will have different requirements than a 3-star hotel, and so on.

The TGCSA Star Grading criteria are in keeping with international standards. They apply to building exteriors, bedrooms, bathrooms, public areas, dining facilities, food and beverage outlets, service and services, and housekeeping. To ensure credibility, consumer feedback is encouraged on the TGCSA website.

Cape Flame Guest House (TG)

Basic grading requirements

  • The accommodation must have a formal reception area
  • An on-site representative must be contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Breakfast should be provided or available. Please note that breakfast is not necessarily included in the rate, and guests should enquire about this before they confirm their booking.
  • Room servicing (including linen and towel change, removal or rubbish, and cleaning)
  • En-suite or private bathroom

To be 4 or 5-star graded

All the above and:

  • Accommodation must be available 7 days a week
  • Dining facilities on site
  • On-site parking
  • Concierge, porter, and luggage handling
  • Central business centre
  • Range of other services such as babysitting
  • Other exceptional facilities, such as a gym, beauty spa, etc
  • Full housekeeping and laundry service
  • Universal Access Compliance
  • Valet service

Julina's Guesthouse (TG)

Ungraded

Many ungraded establishments operate at star graded standards, however an official star grading awarded by the TGCSA is the best quality assurance you can get. In other words, an ungraded establishment is more of a gamble as you can’t be sure of what to expect.

☆ 1-star

A 1-star accommodation offers modest to good quality in terms of the overall standard of furnishings, services, and customer care. A 1-star establishment should be clean, comfortable, and functional. You should expect an en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries and towels. An adequate breakfast should be offered.

☆☆ 2-star

A 2-star accommodation offers good quality in terms of the overall standard of furnishings, services, and customer care. You should expect an en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries and towels, a colour television, and an in-house bar or restaurant. Breakfast should include some hot food items.

☆☆☆ 3-star

A 3-star accommodation offers very good quality in terms of the overall standard of furnishings, services, and customer care. You should expect multiple rooms to choose between that are slightly bigger in size; extra furnishings like a desk, colour television, or bar fridge; an in-house bar or restaurant; safe available on request; conference facilities; and an en-suite bathroom with towels and complimentary toiletries.  Breakfast options should be varied.

Rusthuiz Guest House (TG)

☆☆☆☆ 4-star

A 4-star accommodation offers superior to excellent quality in terms of the overall standard of furnishings, services, and customer care. You should expect multiple room or suite options, a colour television with at least 12 channels, a work area (desk, telephone, and Wi-Fi), and an en-suite bathroom stocked with complimentary toiletries and towels. On-site facilities could include a business centre, concierge services, a swimming pool, gym, babysitting services, an on-site restaurant or bar, and room service available at least 18 hours of the day. A full breakfast should be offered over an extended period of time, with the choice of a la carte dining.

☆☆☆☆☆ 5-star

A 5-star luxury accommodation offers the highest quality in terms of the overall standard of furnishings, services, and customer care. You should expect multiple room or suite options, a colour television with at least 12 channels, a work area (desk, telephone, and Wi-Fi), and an en-suite bathroom stocked with complimentary toiletries and towels. On-site facilities could include a business centre, concierge services, a swimming pool, gym, crèche or babysitting services, an on-site restaurant or bar, and room service available 24 hours a day. A full breakfast should be offered all day, with the choice of seated or in-room dining.

Majeka House (TG)

Did you know?

The TGCSA star grading is valid for a year, where after a property must be re-assessed.

 

Credit Source: www.travelground.com

 

Following a report that killer whales were sighted at Miller’s Point earlier in the morning, we couldn’t resist heading out in search of them, albeit 2 hours later. The area where they were spotted is one of their favourite “7 gill bistros”, but we also know from previous experience that they generally head south from there, stopping off at a few other potential prey areas before they leave the bay.

KILLER WHALES OFF THE SOUTH AFRICAN COAST

I saw my first group of killer whales near Bird Island in Algoa Bay on the 20th February 1999. It was a group of four (three adults and a calf) spotted near a Bryde’s whale. They had captured a baby bottlenose dolphin and were “flicking” it to each other using their large flippers. The cries of the baby dolphin were quite unnerving but are one of the cruel things in nature that are necessary for a top predator’s survival. In this case the whales were honing their skills just like when a cat plays with a mouse. Since then I have spotted them on numerous occasions from my whale watching boat and from the shore, but never armed with a good camera and being treated to such a show as on January the 13th.

The photo gallery above depicts various forms of behaviour. There is some of the male killer whale “spy hopping”. They can change the shape of the lens in the eye which gives them excellent vision both in and out of the water. This is used to great effect when knocking seals off ice floes. They would suddenly pop out the water next to the boat and have a good look at who we were and what we were doing. Then there is one of the male “tail slapping” which may be a form of aggression to warn intruders to keep away from its calf, but scientists don’t know for sure what it means. They also seem to use their flukes to soften up their prey for consumption. There are photos of the female breaching which could be some form of communications to the other members of the pod, or may be simply for fun.

There are photos of two kinds of barnacles, one on the male’s dorsal fin and others on the male and female’s flukes and flippers. According to Professor Peter Best, the round white one on the adult male fin is a Coronula sp. (whale barnacle), typical of humpback whales amongst others. It is partially embedded in the skin which means that it won’t easily be dislodged by predators, or the breaching of the whale, and it feeds by passively filtering food from the current generated as the whale swims. The floppy black ones on or near the trailing edge are probably Xenobalanus sp., found on a large number of cetaceans. Both pose no problem for the whale, but if they are noted as being excessive in number it may be indicative of an animal swimming somewhat slower than normal (i.e. possibly debilitated). Barnacles on fins and tails are far more common in warmer waters than they are in colder waters. So, we generally assume that animals we see here with barnacles, Xenobalanus in particular, have probably come down from warmer waters, maybe Natal, or even from the Agulhas current, but either way, the barnacles don’t tend to last too long in colder Southern Ocean waters. Have a look at the photo showing the shape of the whales’ dorsal fins and the grey saddle just behind the dorsal fin. Scientists use the notches and unique markings on the fins and saddles to identify individual animals.

Killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family. When any cetacean (group name for whales, dolphins and porpoises) attains more than four metres it becomes known as a whale (with the exception of the dwarf and pygmy sperm whales). Like many cetaceans these animals are known by two names. The name Orca is derived from Orcus, the Roman god of the underworld who tortured wrongdoers in the afterlife. The term killer whale probably comes from the fact that they do kill whales and were often seen feeding on dead whales during the days of whaling.

These whales are the top predators in the marine ecosystem. Their diet consists of almost everything in the sea as well as some animals out of it. Animals eaten or harassed include twenty species of cetaceans, fourteen species of seals and their kin, dugongs, sea otters, eleven species of bony fish, twelve species of elasmobranch fish (sharks and rays), birds, turtles, squid and even deer and moose! There are several different types of killer whales across the globe, one of the main differences between them being in their diet. Some eat mostly dolphins or seals or large whales, others eat only bony fish or sharks and rays, while others still eat a combination of two or more of these prey items.

The more specialised you become at hunting one kind of prey only, the more successful you will be as a predator. While fish-eating killer whales hunt in bigger pods and may, like dolphins, use echo-location to find their prey, it is very unlikely in the case of mammal-eating killer whales, which hunt in very small pods. They normally hunt silently and probably detect prey by listening for the sounds they are making or using visual cues. Females can live to a maximum of 90 years while males seldom reach more than 60 years of age.

Killer whales are no doubt the world’s most widely distributed mammal, stretching from the Arctic to the Antarctic, in the tropics and from both coastal and oceanic waters. They do appear to be more abundant in cooler waters. Killer whales can be seen anywhere along the southern African coast. However they tend to be seen more frequently in places of heavy boat traffic like the Cape Peninsula, Plettenberg Bay, Algoa Bay and on the old whaling grounds. This does not mean they do not occur at other locations but just that there are not usually people there to observe them.

In and around Algoa Bay their appearances are unpredictable and normally not more than twice a year, some years failing to arrive at all. We have observed them in any month of the year between Bird Island and Jeffrey’s Bay. An amusing sighting was in 1984 during the local University of Port Elizabeth’s “anything that floats” fundraiser. Students aboard their flimsy rafts were head for the finish line when a group of Orcas arrived making the students gap it off their floating crafts!

Dr Vic Cockcroft who has been studying killer whales since then has only managed to identify seven or so males, which strongly suggests that there are not that many families out there. The last time they were spotted in the Eastern Cape was in May 2011 at the tail end of the “sardine run” off Cape Recife. This was when Raggy Charters hosted the filming of the BBC’s “Earth Flight” about the migration of birds around the world which is to be screened later this year. Watch out for spectacular 3D footage of the sardine run from along our coast.

There have been 785 recorded sightings of killer whales along the South African coastline which seems a lot, but 627 of these observations were from surface long line vessels on the continental drop off on the Agulhas Bank. The other 158 were from sightings by scientists, boat-based whale watching operators, fishermen, skippers and their ilk. Strandings and animals taken by the whale industry make up the balance. As a result of the unpredictability of killer whale sightings along our shore, data are only collected on an ad hoc basis, if and when researchers encounter them at sea or, as is more often the case, via members of the public, fishermen and tourist operators who are often armed with good quality camera equipment, GPS’ etc. Meredith Thornton from the Marine Mammal Institute is currently collating all killer whale photographs and associated sighting information from all interested parties in order to build a photographic catalogue for South Africa.

There are at least nine main types of killer whales in the world, two in the North Atlantic, three in the North Pacific and four in the Southern Hemisphere and the list is growing! There are the so-called resident pods which feed mainly on fish and occur in a wide range of group sizes ranging from three to about 60 animals. Then there are the mammal-eating ones that are called transients. They occur in much smaller groups of between one and four animals although occasionally up to fifteen. These are the ones that I have been seeing along our coastline over the last twenty years. They seem to use a hunting method called passive sonar where they listen out for sounds made by other cetaceans and then use ambush tactics, communicating with each other once a kill has been made. This seemed to be the case on 27th January 2003 when we observed two adult female killer whales and a calf creeping up on 400 bottlenose dolphins cowering away in a sheltered bay at St Croix Island in Algoa Bay.

In the Southern Ocean, recent observations have revealed the possible existence of four types of killer whales. In all types the dorsal fin continues to grow in both sexes but with a delphinid shape, in females and juvenile males. In adult males the fin not only gets bigger but becomes more triangular in shape and can attain 1.8 metres in height. In males up to six metres the dorsal fin is about 10% of the body length while in males over 6 metres it is on average 18% of the body length. On the killer whale we observed the fin actually wobbled when the animal surfaced, and because it is not supported by bone or cartilage it can curl over to one side as often observed on captive animals. Males also have larger flippers and tail flukes than females as can be seen in the attached photos. Killer whales can often be confused with humpback whales as the underside of their tail flukes is sometimes also black and white like those of killer whales. Also, when a southern right whale lies on its side its tail often resembles the dorsal fin of a killer whale.

Type A is the killer whale that mainly frequents our shores. There is increasing evidence of a second type A, which is smaller and so far unnamed, which has also been observed here. The largest males are almost nine metres long while the females reach almost eight metres. Most females seldom reach seven metres while 50% of males do. Males can weigh up to five and a half tones while females are smaller. They have a moderately sized white eye-patch. Around the Antarctic they prey mainly on minke whales. In our waters they prey predominantly on dolphins (I have observed them eating both common and bottlenose). Although they do prey on Cape fur seals they do so surprisingly infrequently considering that we have over two million of them in South Africa and Namibia. They also take penguins, cormorants and white-chinned petrels. There have been many reports of killer whales taking hooked tuna off commercial long lines on the Agulhas bank to such an extent that fishermen leave the area. Retaliatory actions by frustrated fishermen include shooting or the throwing of “thunder flashes”. There have also been reported attacks on southern right, humpback and fin whales. When attacking southern rights the killer whales try to split up the group or cow and calf pair while the whales try to group as close as possible together. Once the animals are killed the killer whales usually only eat the tongues which seems like a delicacy to them. In Plettenberg Bay in 2002 a male killer whale from a group of three killed a four metre great white shark. The male and female then came and displayed it to the boat based whale watching boat!

The group size of Killer Whales from the 627 sightings by long line vessels showed that all except one was of up to 13 animals. The exception was a group of twenty. In 93% of the observations the group size was up to six animals, the average being two. Other datasets shows 81% of the groups being up to six animals, the rest up to ten with an average of four and a half. Boat based whale watching operators reported between one and two calves present in ten of the 15 sightings. I have seen calves in all of my sightings although they are sometimes difficult to distinguish at first.

Type B inhabits inshore waters around the Antarctic and is closely associated with continental pack ice. The eye patch is twice as large as type A and it has a grey cape on the body behind the dorsal fin. They prey mainly on seals but also on minke and humpback whales.

Type C also inhabits inshore pack ice in the Antarctic. The eye patch is diagonal and slopes down at the front. They are smaller than type A, the males attaining six metres and the females slightly less. They feed mainly on fish.

The Antarctic population was estimated at about 80 000 individuals in the 1980s. They have not been heavily exploited by whalers in the past. From 1935 until 1979 on average 26 were killed every year. During 1979-80 Soviet whaling ships killed 916 animals in the Southern Hemisphere. South Africa is not blameless however as between 1971 and 1975, 36 killer whales were taken at the Durban whale station.

Credit Source: Simon’s Town Boat Company

Credit Source: www.raggychartes.co.za

 

The South African Navy’s earliest beginnings can be traced to the Port Elizabeth Naval Volunteer Brigade that was raised in 1861, but seems to have merged with a volunteer artillery unit in the following year. On 30 April 1885 a part-time unit named the Natal Naval Volunteers (NNV) was formed in Durban.

The SA Navy replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg and two strike craft. All three were built in Durban.

These men manned the six-inch guns that were to defend Durban from Russia, should she decide, as was feared, on a programme of expansionism. They served ashore in the South African War (1899 – 1902) and the Zulu Rebellion of 1906. The SA Navy has an unbroken link with the NNV, which later became the reserve unit SAS Inkonkoni. A similar unit, the Cape Naval Volunteers (CNV), later SAS Unitie, was formed in Cape Town in 1905, and on 1 July 1913 the two units formed the South African Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR).

During the First World War, South African Naval Volunteers served in the German South West African and German East African campaigns. South Africans served in the Royal Naval Air Service and contingents in British warships.

In 1921 a new RNVR base was established in Port Elizabeth (later SASDonkin) and in the following year another base was commissioned in East London (later SAS Port Rex).

SAS Inkonkoni, SAS Unitie, SAS Donkin and SAS Port Rex were four of the seven Naval Reserve units of the SA Navy. The others were SASRand in Johannesburg, SAS Magaliesberg in Pretoria and SAS Yselsteinin Simon’s Town. The Naval Reserve is being integrated with the Fleet as part of the new SA Navy force structure. The last reserve unit to close, in 2005, will be SAS Unitie.

South Africa’s first Permanent Force Navy, the SA Naval Service, was established on 1 April 1922. The first ships, a hydrographic survey vessel renamed HMSAS Protea and two minesweeping trawlers, renamed HMSAS Sonneblom and HMSAS Immortelle, were purchased by South Africa and they were to form the nucleus of the fledgling force.

HMSAS Immortelle, formerly HMS Eden of the UK Royal Navy, along with her sister HMSAS Sonneblom (ex HMS Foyle) and HMSAS Protea (formerly HMSCrozier), formed the nucleus of the fledgling navy.

Between 1933 and 1934, however, the Great Depression forced Government to return the ships and pay off all but two SANS officers and three ratings who were retained for survey work. The Royal Navy retained three officers, nine ratings and ten civilians to continue the training and supply of the RNVR (SA), which continued to operate.

In January 1940 South Africa established a new naval unit, the Seaward Defence Force, which was commanded by Rear Admiral G.W. Halifax, CMG. The Seaward Defence Force took over responsibility from the Royal Navy for operating the minesweepers, anti submarine services, and the other examination and signaling duties in South African waters.

During the Second World War, South Africa’s “little ships” earned an enviable reputation in the Mediterranean. It was said that “the discipline, morale and above all, the marksmanship of the 22nd Anti-Submarine guys, were unequalled in the inshore squadron.”

In South African waters our ships patrolled the entrances to our ports, escorted convoys between them, swept enemy mines and rescued more than 400 survivors from ships torpedoed by the many submarines operating in the area.

On 1 August 1942 the Seaward Defence Force and the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (South Africa) were amalgamated to form the South African Naval Forces (SANF) in which 10 332 officers and ratings served during the Second World War. At the peak period of the Second World War in 1944, the South African fleet consisted of 87 vessels. A total of 329 members of the SANF were killed in action or died in service and 225 awards for gallantry or distinguished service were bestowed on South African sailors.

Twenty-six battle honours were confirmed on our ships, three of which served in the Far East.

The SA Woman’s Auxiliary Naval Service was established in October 1943. About 280 “SWANS” served as harbour defence operators and in administrative posts.

A total of 2 937 officers and ratings were seconded to the Royal Navy, so that our sailors took part in nearly every major naval operation in the Second World War, as well as performing all manner of obscure duties from minesweeping off the Faroe Islands to hydrographical surveying in Chinese waters.

They served in the convoys to Russia, were present at the Normandy landings on D-Day and many of them served in the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. During this time, South Africa’s sailors showed that they were as good as the best in the world and established a proud fighting tradition.

At the end of the war, South Africa received three Loch Class frigates: HMSAS Good Hope, HMSAS Natal and HMSAS Transvaal. HMSAS Natalachieved a war record when she sank the German submarine U714 whilst still on trials off St Abb’s Head on 14 March 1945.

On 1 May 1946 the SANF was reconstituted as part of the Union Defence Force with compliment of 60 officers and 806 men. Its fleet consisted of the three Loch Class frigates, two boom defence vessels (HMSAS Barbrake and HMSAS Barcross), one minelayer (HMSAS Spindrift) and 12 harbour defence motor launches. In 1947 the Algerine Class ocean minesweepers HMSAS Bloemfontein (ex HMS Rosamund) and HMSAS Pietermaritzburg (ex HMS Pelorus) arrived, both of which were commissioned in September that year.

In 1951 the SA Naval Forces became the SA Navy (SAN) and had grown to 132 officers and 1 499 men. Around this time, the V&W destroyers SAS Jan van Riebeeck (ex HMS Wessex), SAS Simon van der Stel (ex HMS Whelp) and the Type 15 frigate SAS Vrystaat (ex HMS Wrangler) were added to the fleet.

The Ton Class minesweeper SAS Windhoek, one of ten acquired in terms of the Simon’s Town Agreement, conducts seamanship exercises (light jackstay) with a sister ‘sweeper. The brown nutria worn by the ship’s company dates the photograph to the early ’80s when nutria replaced the traditional action working dress “blues”. Nutria was later to be phased out, to be again replaced by the familiar (and more popular) blue.

During the Second World War, 78 South Africans were also seconded to the Royal Marines. The SA Corps of Marines was formed in 1951 and was composed of coast and anti aircraft artillery regiments. When coastal artillery became obsolete in 1955, the Corps was disbanded.

In 1955 the Simon’s Town Agreement was signed by Great Britain and South Africa. In terms of this agreement, the SA Navy expanded and the Simon’s Town base and Naval Dockyard were handed over to South Africa on 1 April 1957. The SA Navy’s main naval base moved from Durban to Simon’s Town and Naval Headquarters moved to Simon’s Town from Pretoria where it remained until 1976 when it moved back to Pretoria.

In terms of this agreement, the SA Navy was to also acquire three new Type 12 (modified Rothesay Class) anti submarine frigates, ten Ton Class minesweepers and five Ford Class seaward defence boats.

Other acquisitions included the tugs De Noorde (1961) and De Neys(1969) – the first tug in South Africa to be fitted with the then revolutionary Voith Schneider propulsion system – plus the torpedo recovery vessel, SAS Fleur, the first warship ever to be designed and built in South Africa (1969). The Navy’s largest vessel, the replenishment vessel SAS Tafelberg, the former Danish merchant tanker Annam, was commissioned after extensive refit in Durban in August 1967. She had the distinction of being the first ever ship designed in Denmark with the aid of a computer. In 1970, the arrival of the SAS Maria van Riebeeck heralded the birth of the submarine branch with three French-built Daphne Class submarines. The SASEmily Hobhouse and SAS Johanna van der Merwe were to arrive shortly afterwards. Further orders for submarines and corvettes were cancelled as a result of the United Nations led arms embargo against South Africa in 1977. May 1972 saw the arrival of the purpose-built hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea and, in 1981, the River Class mine countermeasures vessels joined the fleet.

The Marines were re-established as a branch of the SA Navy in 1979 to protect South Africa’s harbours against attacks from land or sea. They were also deployed in South West Africa (Namibia), where they manned the twin-hulled harbour patrol boats and Vredenburg boats patrolling the Zambezi from Katima Mulilo. The Marines served in an infantry role on the Border until 1988 and were employed in counter-insurgency operations in South African townships in support of the South African Army. In September/October 1988 the Navy’s largest and most successful peacetime exercise, Exercise Magersfontein, was held at Walvis Bay. The Navy demonstrated its ability to conduct operations far from its normal bases and revealed its amphibious capability by landing marines in Delta boats from SAS Tafelberg.

The Border conflict ended in April 1989 and was followed by comprehensive rationalisation programmes in all arms of the South African Defence Force. The Navy’s tiny share of the defence budget had dropped even further, but with the need for new ships now critical. To retain a new ship procurement programme and effect the financial cutbacks, the Navy elected to disband the Marines, some of its shore establishments and retrench 23 percent (2 258) of its personnel.

The Strike Craft Flotilla (based at SAS Scorpion in Durban) was commissioned in 1980 with missile-carrying fast attack craft. Based in Durban, these small, fast and lethal ships, armed with surface-to-surface guided missiles, two 76 mm guns and smaller close-range weapons, formed the backbone of the Navy’s surface strike power.

Three strike craft were to be purchased from Israel with the remaining six being built at the Sandock Austral shipyard in Durban.

Sandock Austral was also to build what was the largest, most sophisticated vessel ever designed and built in South Africa, the replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg. She was launched in August 1984 and arrived in Simon’s Town in November 1987.

A subsequent major purchase was that of the Ukraine built Juvent, renamed SAS Outeniqua on commissioning in the SA Navy in 1993. The Outeniqua replaced the by then decommissioned SAS Tafelberg, but in turn decommissioned in 2004.

On Freedom Day, 27 April 1994, the SA Navy and the rest of the South African Defence Force (SADF) became part of the new SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and its personnel assisted with South Africa’s first democratic election. The need to reduce defence expenditure and improve the effectiveness of the SANDF resulted in the transformation of South Africa’s armed forces. In 1999 the much smaller Navy Office of the Ministry of Defence replaced the Naval Headquarters. The operational head, formerly Chief of Naval Operations, became Flag Officer Fleet and shifted his flag to Simon’s Town. All the flotillas were disbanded and placed under his command. Their administration and logistic functions were entrusted to a general support base, Naval Base Simon’s Town. All but one of the Strike Craft names were changed to honour famous South African warriors and the names of the submarines were changed to SAS Spear (previously SAS Maria van Riebeeck), Umkhonto (previously Emily Hobhouse) and Assegaai(previously Johanna van der Merwe).

Today the SA Navy recalls its origins with pride and confidently provides a professional and cost-effective maritime deterrent in times of war and a large variety of tasks in time of peace.

The South African Navy is currently rebuilding its fleet with the procurement from Germany of four new patrol corvettes and three new submarines. Three strike craft, three mine countermeasure vessels, an auxiliary vessel and several smaller craft are still in service.

 

Source credit: www.navy.mil,za

Clear, blue skies and long, warm evenings is a standard feature of Cape Town’s long summer that stretches from as early as October and into March. It’s the sort of summer that you’d think wouldn’t require much preparation at all, save an extra pair of flip flops and perhaps, a fancy swimsuit. But, there’s plenty more to know about summer in the Mother City. Such as that the average daytime spans a glorious 15 hours and that the South Easter – the prevailing summer wind – can sometimes gust at 60 kilometres per hour at its strongest. Here are a few ways you can truly prepare for your visit:

Your checklist

The temperature

Cape Town’s summer is something akin to Mediterranean, meaning it’s dry and often fairly windy with breathtakingly blue skies to admire and which lasts from November through to March. The average day temperature during summer is a balmy 23 degrees Celsius, but it can often get as high as 35 degrees Celsius and if a Berg wind blows (from the inland Karoo desert), you’ll see temperatures soar closer to 40 degrees Celsius.

On your checklist: Pack summer clothes and that swimsuit

The wind

Wind is certainly a feature of summer in Cape Town. The prevailing wind direction comes from the the south east, blowing off the cool ocean and making the hotter days in Cape Town more bearable. Known as the Cape Doctor, it blows most during January and February and is well-loved by wind sports enthusiasts, such as kite surfers. The Cape Doctor can have you reaching for a cardigan or light jacket, even when temperatures are on the hot side, so be sure to keep one handy when you head out. If you’re looking to spend time outdoors out of the wind, then head over to Hout Bay beach, or one of the Clifton beaches.

On your checklist: Pack a light jacket or two

summer in cape town

The sun

It’s no secret that the African sun can be harsh, so don’t forget to apply a layer of sun block before spending any amount of time outdoors and be sure to reapply half way through the day. A hat and of course, keeping well hydrated, will also help those unaccustomed to the persistent heat to cope more effectively.

On your checklist: Buy sun block, a hat and some water

Water scarce

Cape Town is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent history. The city is open for business and welcoming visitors, and this year’s winter rains brought much-needed relief, but the region is still water-stressed. We need everyone to help by being water-wise when visiting Cape Town. We need you to save like a local, and keep your usage to under 70 litres per day.

On your checklist: Stay waterwise.

The outdoors

One of the best things about Cape Town is its range of amazing natural spots in which to picnic, enjoy the glorious views and explore. Whether it be on one of the many pristine beaches in Cape Town or at a mountainside stop, be aware that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

On your checklist: Always keep your belongings safe when visiting the beach

Boyes Drive hiker

Giving tips

Every city has its own rules. Luckily in Cape Town, these are straightforward. When tipping your waiter at a restaurant, a tip of about 10% of the bill is considered fair. Official car guards in the CBD will charge R3.40 for the first 15 minutes, and a flat hourly rate thereafter. Tipping car guards outside of the city centre is also acceptable, and usually at your discretion.

On your checklist: Carry loose change and smaller notes

Getting from A to B

If you’re moving around in the CBD, take in the sights and vibe of Cape Town’s city bowl by setting out on foot. This will mean a fair amount of walking, so make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes packed. And when it comes to longer distances, there are several transport options including  Uber, MyCiti Bus, railway services and bus systems.

On your checklist: A pair of comfortable walking shoes

Safety first

We know that Table Mountain looks easy to scale and who could resist taking advantage of an easy hike on a beautiful day? However, it’s important to take heed that the climb up – and down – calls for proper planning especially as the temperature is always a few degrees colder and that weather is prone to sudden changes at the top.

On your checklist: Good hiking shoes, plenty of water and a jacket.

 

Source Credit: www.capetown.travel

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