Willie spent this past weekend fishing at a small coastal town called Witsand (translation: White Sands). Situated east of the De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve (which I have done posts on before here and here), on eastern bank of the Breede River, it is well known for its good fishing. This past weekend was an especially good time to be there, as the full moon and spring tides, always increase the chances for the fishermen. So the area was busier than usual.
The sleepy appearance of this little town belies its history as a very busy trading area. As is explained in this extract from “Discovering Southern Africa“, by T.V Bulpin:
In the 1850s when the merchant house of Barry and Nephews dominated trade in the Overberg area, it was found that three full weeks were needed for wagons to transport goods to Cape Town. The Breede river was obviously perfectly navigable in its lower reaches, and the enterprising firm acquired a fleet of small sailing vessels and built a store at Malgas.
The Breede river mouth is in San Sebastian Bay, with Cape Infanta on its south side. The bay offers little protection from the prevailing south-easterly winds which can be violent. The river mouth is wide but blocked by the sandbanks usual in rivers. Sailing vessels had a tricky time entering what was called Port Beaufort. Once across the bar into the river, navigation was more simple, but if the wind was in a treacherous mood a sailing vessel could suddenly find itself becalmed at an awkward point and end up on the beach.
To overcome this problem, the Barrys had a special steamer built on the Clyde . . . Read more . . .
Nowadays the Breede River mouth is used for recreational boating and fishing. Humans aren’t the only ones hunting fish here though. Huge Zambezi sharks (also known as Bull sharks) frequent the river. A recent River Monsters episode (on the Animal Planet) was shot on the Breede River at Witsand. The marine scientists working on the programme tracked a couple of these sharks and found them following the fishing boats and waiting for the fishermen to hook fish. Fishermen here often tell stories of big fish they have lost to the sharks. Not all tall tales it turns out, as the River Monsters programme showed.
A further attraction of Witsand coastline is its importance as a “whale nursery”. Every year during September, a large number of Southern Right whales come to give birth to their calves off the Southern Cape coast. The town celebrates this with the Witsand Baby Whale Festival!
Credits: Photographs: Willie (WMB); Photo processing and text: Lisa @ Notes from Africa | Photoblog