All these pics link to large versions
So on Saturday talk began to circulate that we were in for a big bout of stormage. Around 2pm some big winds kicked up and a couple of whales parked themselves in front of the harbour and began energetically waving their tales in the air whilst behind them the palm trees on the main road waved back.
From then on it was gale force northwesters and intermittent downpours until Sunday Morning. As usual with big swells, the waves only arrived from the Atlantic 24 hours later – Monday morning, which is when things really kicked off on the shoreline.
Two of the restaurants down at the harbour were damaged in the early hours of Monday – Polana had its seafacing windows smashed out and frames buckled by relentless waves, and the Harbour House upstairs had part of its roof (about five metres above the rocks) give way to the explosive uppercuts.
I went down to Kalk Bay reef around low tide at 10am to see if anyone was crazy enough to try and surf it, but there was no one out, and you couldn’t actually see where the reef was. Massive lines of eight foot swells were closing out from the Brass Bell down to Dalebrook Pool. Down towards St James the waves seemed to be breaking about a kilometre out to sea, and arcing round to form the Muizenberg back line which must have been even further out than that. Quite a spectacular sight.
At the harbour Polana was mopping up, although the owner conceded that it was probably a wasted effort, with high tide at 4 and bigger swells yet forecasted.
At this stage it was around mid-day and massive walls of water were already smashing into the harbour wall creating explosive displays that cleared all traffic from the jetty. A few fisherman exchanged tense words and secured their boat moorings in anticipation of worse to come in the afternoon.
Around 3.30 I went back to the rocks outside the harbour restaurants to find a large crowd of photographers.
Huge cauldrons of white water were engulfing the building with every set. The Polana windows were still out and hundreds of litres of sea water were being pushed into the restaurant with every swell.
Upstairs, Harbour House had managed to clean up enough to open the restaurant and even had a few tables of diners (not at window seats) sitting down to meals in the midst of this display.
I rode the bike over Boyes Drive with my friend Justin to Muizenberg. Rush hour commuters lined the road waiting for buses as the train service had been suspended along the False Bay coastline. At St James you could see why – huge swells dousing the lines and splashing all the way up to the electric lines. Back at Kalk Bay about 10 surfers and bodyboarders had made it out, some of them using the giant backwash waves to accelerate their paddle out.
The Brass Bell was being periodically engulfed by white water. Back over at the harbour we could see a few nutters on sea kayaks riding the 10-12 foot break off the harbour wall that was still launching devastating attacks on the restaurants.
As I made my way home squadrons of private emergency vehicles swarmed towards Cape to Cuba and the harbour, although the guys on the Kayaks looked like they were in good shape and it wasn’t clear who was being being rescued or whether anybody actually needed to be.
This morning the railway line remained conspicuously silent. The sea looks much calmer but there’s still a decent sized wave off the harbour.
Filed under: General on September 2nd, 2008