Tag Archives: NSRI

Is Robben Island a Cape Town tourism liability? Service sinks to new low!

On Friday 15,September the Robben Island ferry Thandi close to sank in rough seas between the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island, with 64 passengers, most of them tourists, and five members of staff on board! It is the final straw of continuous problems linked to the Robben Island ferry service.

Continue reading →

Kfm Sweet Service and City of Cape Town Sour Service Awards!

imageThe Sweet Service Award goes to Kfm, for its Christmas Wish project to share goodwill with Capetonians going through difficult times. Last week I heard goodwill bestowed upon Madeleze Gibson, whose husband David passed away in a car accident while driving to a store to buy nappies for their child. Madeleze was left with three children and a baby on the way shortly. On Rob Vember’s afternoon show both Madeleze and her sister-in-law Desraye, who had Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   A giant sun fish has beached in Camps Bay.  Attempts by the City of Cape Town Fire & Rescue Services, the NSRI, and the City’s Solid Waste Department to move the fish back into the sea have proven unsuccessful so far, in part due to the sea conditions, and beachgoers pushing it out to sea.  Originally the fish was thought to be a baby whale.  It is injured from attempts made to get it back into the rough sea, and has beached itself again.

*   A #BoycottWoolworths campaign is costing the retailer R8 million a month, and is currently targeted for the festive season, at stores around the country, including the Cavendish branch in Cape Town.  The campaign is using ’till-jams‘, whereby trollies are filled and then left at the till. BDS South Africa says it is not involved in the latest campaign, having previously organised boycotts against the retailer for stocking produce from Israel.

*   Chinese investor William Wu has bought a 51% share in Swartland Winery, which produces Lion’s Hill Merlot, Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 9/10 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom said that he does not have the power to change the new Immigration Regulations which come into effect on 1 October, when he addressed the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) this weekend.  He admitted that ‘new regulations could have unintended, negative consequences for the tourism industry‘!  However, the new regulations are the responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs, he said.  Some concessions have been made by the Department, including that the unabridged birth certificates of child travelers no longer have to be translated into English, and that more visa application centres (in India and China in particular) will be created.  Fortunately tourists from Europe, the UK, and USA do not require visas to travel to our country, and are therefore not affected.  Tourism consultancy Grant Thornton is to conduct a study to measure the impact on Tourism of the new regulations.

*   Cape Town has been rated as 8th friendly international city, while Johannesburg has been ranked as the most unfriendly city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler!  Auckland and Melbourne were jointly voted as the most friendly cities in Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 9/10 November

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Distell has handed over a whale disentanglement kit to the NSRI in Hermanus, funded by monies raised at the Whale Festival.

*   Fewer flights leaving the UK are delayed.

*   Cape Town has a new ambassador in Katie Holmes, Tweeting from Table Mountain with a photograph yesterday: ‘Beautiful day in Cape Town’.

*  The SA Brandy Foundation has recognised the contribution of a number of its product drinkers, and has inducted them into the Brandy Guild of SA: Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, Warren Haefele, Schalk Burger, Wini Bowman, Peter Pitsiladi, Mike Meyers, and Amaro Fernandes. (received via Manley Communications)

*   Carlos Santana will be performing at the Grand Arena in Cape Town on 25, 26 and 27 February, his first Cape Town appearance ever.

*   About 41000 visitors from around the world attended the World Travel Market (WTM) in London earlier this week.

*   World Travel Market (WTM) is massive, offers poor quality Continue reading →

Whale of a pilot whale beaching on Cape Town’s Noordhoek beach!

Nineteen pilot whales beached on Noordhoek beach early yesterday morning, of which fourteen died.

iol reports that five of the beached whales were transported to Simonstown, and were released back into the ocean, but one re-beached there again. Five whales died naturally, while another nine were ‘humanely euthanised’

Local residents, the NSRI, and police helped to keep the whales alive by pouring buckets of water over them and by placing towels on them.  Attracting attention across Cape Town after media broadcasts and Tweets announced the beaching, Noordhoek beach was eventually closed.

Whale researchers have not been able to explain why whales beach. It is speculated that the lead whale may become ill or caught in shallow water, and followed by the remainder of the pod.  Research also shows that marine pollution, shipping noise, as well as navy sonar noise may disorient whales and lead to the beaching. Pilot whales have a higher likelihood of beaching than other types of whales, particularly in New Zealand and Australia. Four years ago 55 killer whales beached at Kommetjie.

POSTSCRIPT 26/3: In the Cape Times Letters page today, Nan Rice, CEO of the Dolphin Action & Protection Group, corrects the incorrect media reports about the type of whales that beached, being false killer whales, and not pilot whales.  She writes critically about bystanders that criticise the euthanising of the stranded whales, and argues that it is more humane to euthanise them.  Not one of the nineteen whales survived, the whales put out into the ocean rebeaching again and also dying.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @Whale Cottage

NSRI Sweet Service and Southern Ambition Marine Safaris Sour Service Awards!

The Sweet Service Award goes to the NSRI, as well as other supporters who assisted in the rescue of 37 of the passengers on the Miroshga, which capsized off Hout Bay. Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde acknowledged the contribution of the NSRI, the Western Cape Emergency Medical Services which brought 24 passengers to hospitals in Cape Town, Navy sea divers, EMS divers, and the Western Cape and City Disaster Management Units, in the rescue operation.  Poachers who were fishing in the area were the first to arrive on the scene, and assisted in pulling passengers out of the water.

The Sour Service Award goes to Southern Ambition Marine Safaris, owners of the Miroshga whale, dolphin and seal watching boat that capsized in Hout Bay two weeks ago, for having a skipper of the boat that was not certified to carry passengers, resulting in the death of tourist Peter Hyett and crew member John Roberts, the initial inquiry into the accident by the SA Maritime Safety Authority has found, reported the Cape Times yesterday. Other issues were problematic too. The boat used to have inboard motors, but replaced these with outboard engines, the vents of the inboard motors not having been closed, resulting in the boat taking on water.  The bilge pump used to pump out the water at sea did not work ‘because it had been incorrectly wired’.  The compartments below deck were not watertight, which meant that the seawater coming in through the vents spread faster than the bilge pump could pump out the water.  The alarm system, to alert the skipper of flooding at a certain level, had been disconnected!  The battery compartment was flooded, which cut out the port engine, followed by the starboard engine too, leading to the boat drifting into the breakers and capsizing. The life raft was cut loose by the passengers, but floated away without being used. In summary, the report said that the boat disaster was the result of a ‘succession of small bad decisions and incidents’!  The owners paid for Roberts’ funeral, and the company has not operated since the accident.  The skipper and his company could face criminal charges.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

V&A Waterfront Historical Walking Tours connect Cape Town to its past!

Recently my colleague Charmaine and I were privileged to be taken on a Historical Walking Tour of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront by Willem Steenkamp, a historian with a passion for Cape Town and its past, an ex-editor of the Cape Times, and author (of ‘Poor Man’s Bioscope’ and more). The tour is an interesting way to confirm that the V&A is at the heart of Cape Town and its history, with 22 historical landmarks of interest to both local Capetonians and to tourists.

The V&A is the oldest working harbour in South Africa, and was redeveloped in 1988 by Transnet Limited, with first commercial trading commencing in 1990.  It started as a jetty built by South Africa’s founder Jan van Riebeeck in 1654.   A harbour had to be built when insurer Lloyds of London would not insure the ships coming around the Cape in winter if a safe harbour was not built here, given the winter gales and the damage they could do to the ships. The harbour was named after Queen Victoria and her son HRH Prince Alfred, and he inaugurated the construction of the harbour in1860, with a monument dedicated to him, to mark the occasion.  Ten years later he returned for the official opening of the harbour, commemorated with another monument close to the Amphitheatre.

Willem started the tour at the Chavonnes Battery Museum, beautifully dressed up in a uniform of the 18th century, despite the extreme heat of the day, and certain to attract attention where he went in the V&A.  He said some children refer to him as Captain Jack Sparrow on his tours. He traced the history of the discovery of Cape Town by boats connecting the spice-rich East and Europe in a 6 – 8 month journey, having to come around the Cape, where they picked up fresh water, plants to counter scurvy, and meat. At times the inhabitants were short of supplies themselves, and had to obtain supplies from passing ships.  To safeguard the 25000 VOC (Dutch East India Company) Cape Town employees against the threat of pirates, Cape Town was protected with a battery and heavy artillery, the Chavonnes’ Battery Museum paying tribute to the defence of Cape Town.  The Battery disappeared in 1860 when the harbour was built, and was excavated in 1999 when the Board of Executors built its head office on the site, the Battery originally having been at the water’s edge. The Battery was completed in 1726, and was named after the Marquis de Chavonnes.

We stopped at the Clock Tower, which was originally painted white, and Willem said he did not know why it has changed colour.  We were reminded of Bertie’s Landing, named after well-known sailor Bertie Reed, with a bust in honour of ‘Biltong Bertie’, as Willem called him.  The building is now the Robben Island Museum and Nelson Mandela Gateway ticket office.  Prior to the construction of the Swing Bridge, the Penny Ferry connected the two sections of the harbour.  We were shown the Alfred Basin; the Robinson Dry Dock (the oldest of its kind still in daily use in South Africa, and oldest of the old style dock in the world.  Galas were held in the Robinson Dock in the old days, and it has been a quarry); the Pump House (which pumped water in and out of the Robinson Dock); the Old Power Station (having supplied Cape Town’s power); the Breakwater Prison (built in 1902, and which still has the treadmill to punish the prisoners who were locked up there.  It is now a hotel and the UCT Graduate School of Business operates from there; Portswood Ridge (Moorings Lane has five cottages for small businesses, and we rented one of these called Sea Cottage when the V&A first opened this business section of the Waterfront in 1991); Dock House was the home of the Port Captain; the Time Ball Tower, which was critical to navigation around the Cape; the Portswood Tunnel that few have seen before; the Rocket Shed; the Union Castle Building designed by Sir Herbert Baker’s firm; at Quay 5 hides, fish, and wood were unloaded from arriving ships; and Victoria Basin.  We were not able to see the SAS Somerset boom defence vessel, probably the last of its kind in the world.  Willem was sad that Iziko Museums had closed down the Maritime Museum near the Aquarium. The NSRI uses the same slipway as did previous rescue vehicles in the history of the harbour.  Amidst the history of the Cape in the V&A Waterfront is the history of South Africa’s political transformation, and the statues of Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Albert Lithuli, all Nobel Peace Prize recipients, can be seen at Nobel Square near the V&A Hotel.

We loved Willem’s dry sense of humour and his wealth of knowledge of the history of Cape Town in general, and of the V&A Waterfront in particular.  We would recommend this Historical Walking Tour to all Capetonians and visitors to Cape Town.

V&A Waterfront Historical Walking Tours. Tel (021) 408-7600. www.waterfront.co.za Monday – Sunday 11h00, tour takes about an hour.  R50 per adult, R20 per child 10 – 18 years old. Minimum of 4 persons, maximum 10. Tours start at Chavonnes Battery Museum.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Whale war against S A wines

Captain Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has incensed South Africans in calling for a ban on South African wine sales until Mike Meyer, of Marine and Coastal Management, labelled by Watson as the “Butcher of Kommetjie Beach”, be sacked.

Watson is so passionate about saving whales that he takes the Japanese head on every year in the Antarctic waters off Australia. 

He was reacting to the slaughter of 44 pilot whales on 30 May at Long Beach in Kommetjie,  under the directive of Meyer.   Marine and Coastal Management, the Dolphin Action Protection Group, the NSRI and SPCA, along with hundreds of volunteers, tried to help the whales back into the stormy ocean, but only 14 made it back to sea, the others rebeaching.   These are the whales that Meyer had shot with a rifle, a traumatic event for the volunteers and members of the public present.

Criticism of the events of the day are that the public did not assist the whale rescue operation by wanting to have a look at what was going on, and by not accepting instructions; no clear directives were given to the volunteers and public, as no one seemed to be in charge of the rescue operation; and that the volunteers were not well trained enough.   Better volunteer training and a clear disaster plan should be prepared in the event of future whale beachings, say the parties involved in the whale rescue.

Watson’s call for the ban has been described as a “vicious and personal attack” on Meyer, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs, which is supporting Meyer’s decision.   The Cape Argus, reporting on the Sea Shepherd wine ban threat, wrote as follows: “Most of his statement about Meyer is too defamatory to print”.

Watson slates both Meyer and Marine Coastal Management, and its handling of the whale beaching on Long Beach.  “Meyer simply called himself a scientist and proclaimed the animals doomed, and thus gave the order for execution. This man does not possess a single scientific degree.   He is a bureaucrat, not a scientist, not a vet, and not even a former student of marine biology or any discipline involving marine species. In short he is an unqualified sadistic thug and an embarrassment to the government and the people of South Africa.” said Watson.

Watson has visited South Africa, and has been a speaker at a Whale Festival in Hermanus.    His full statement can be read on http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-090602-1.html