Monday, February 28, 2011

1902 Great Gale Memorial

I took some time at the 1902 Great Gale Memorial in the South End Cemetery last week and tried to imagine myself what that day must have been like.  On Sunday, 31 August 1902 there were 38 ships at anchor along the then North End Beach.  Rain and a south-easterly wind started to lash the bay and by midnight the storm turned into a hurricane.  By the end of the storm on 2 September 1902, 18 of the ships had been stranded on the beach, while the rest all had major damage.  The dead were buried in the South End Cemetery and thousands lined the route to the cemetery as the funeral processions went by with surviving ship-mates carrying the coffins of those that died during the storm.

During the storm four men from the town tried to take a rope out to a ship to try and help the sailors ashore.  More tragedy striked when their line broke and all four drowned.  Their names are also inscribed on the monument.

For more information and a account of the Great Gale, visit the Christiania Seilskuteklubben website and scroll to about halfway down the page. 

"Never before in its history has this port suffered under such overwhelming disaster as we record today. On Sunday morning some 38 craft rode at anchor under the leaden sky. Heavy rains had fallen and the wind gradually rose until, as the shadows of evening hid the shipping from view, a fresh gale was blowing in from the south-east, which, as the midnight hour was reached, had developed in to a hurricane. As the turmoil of wind and wave continued, so the toll of ships mounted, until 18 vessels were aground, with a raging sea adding a high toll of human lives.” - The Eastern Province Herald, 2 September 1902

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Protecting dune vegitation

The vegetated dunes between Kings Beach and the walkways passing the swimming pools have been fenced off to protect the delicate dune vegetation.  In the past people have just been walking over the dunes willy-nilly without any consideration for the vegetation.  The problem is that once the vegetation disappears the dune starts "moving" and the sand blows onto the walkways, lawns and the swimming pools. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beached Crabs

Hundreds of Smith's swimming crabs have been washing up on Port Elizabeth's beaches, specially around Cape Recife, over the last week.  The theory behind the occurrence is that they have been trying to get away from a severe "upwelling" in the bay.  An upwelling is when a prolonged onshore winds and wave action causes icy water from the lower depths to come to the surface.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

No lifeguards on duty

Mmmmm... Nope, I don't think I'll need a lifeguard taking a shower...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tour of South Africa

Yesterday the third leg of the Cell C Tour of South Africa cycle race took place in and around Port Elizabeth.  The 177 km leg started at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and took them out past Motherwell and around the Addo Elephant National Park.  From there the riders headed back to the city via Colchester before tackling a couple of steep climbs around Central and South End.  I was waiting for them just before the finish line at Humewood on the beachfront.  We've been having very nice weather lately, but the wind came up on cue and decided to remind all why Port Elizabeth is also called the Windy City (how I hate that name), and the riders had the endure hot and windy conditions.  The leg was won by Yohann Gene of France in 4:05:27, followed by Johann Rabie of South Africa and Gregory Habeaux of Belguim.  All in all the day went of very very well and was a showcase of the city's capabilities of hosting events like this.

The leading group taking the last corner into Marine Drive

The chasing bunch was only a minute or so behind...

...with the peloton a couple of minutes behind them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Richmond Hill shipping beacon

Very few people know that there is a shipping beacon situated on top of Richmond Hill.  The beacon assists with ships entering and exiting the Port Elizabeth Harbour and plays quite an important part in Algoa Bay's shipping lanes.  A couple of years ago a developer started construction on an apartment block in the vicinity.  Now I'm not going to go into all the politics and red tape of building plans and approvals because I don't know the story, but at some stage the municipality realised that the building will be obstructing the beacon from the sea and stopped the development.  I'm sure the developers are still fighting the whole thing, but that's not what this blog is about.  This blog is about a shipping beacon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cherry Place

Cherry Place in Walmer is one of the many intimate coffee shops / restaurants that has been springing up all over Port Elizabeth.  The premises, home to the highly successful events company Red Cherry Adventures, also houses a conference facility.  One of the activities they offer is fire walking which is done on the fire walking pit (looks more like a strip to me) in the picture.

I have often wondered if I shouldn't start doing the occasional proper review of restaurants and things as well.  I was at Cherry Place for a quick meeting and coffee, otherwise I could have done one here today.  Perhaps in the future...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Coming or going?

I had to go to Johannesburg for work last week and snapped this pic of the South African Airways plane I returned with on the apron at the Port Elizabeth Airport.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fog and gun

Looking towards the Port Elizabeth Harbour from on top of Fort Frederick on a foggy day like this makes one wonder how nervous a lookout stationed here would have been when there was fog over the sea.  The harbour is barely visible, so on a foggy day it would have been quite easy invading the bay without today's modern equipment that could have warned of an invasion.  Luckily the fort never had to fire a shot in anger.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rink Street and Russel Road

Looking down onto the intersection of Russel Road and Rink Street from the pavilion at the Westbourne Oval.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Old street light

I found this old street lamp in the street outside Fort Frederick in Central.  The people I was with must have thought me mad cause I was walking round and round in circles looking up trying to get the sun in a good position for the picture.

Visit Skywatch for more pictures from all over the world featuring the sky.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jewish Pioneer Memorial Museum

Richmond Hill is on the rise. Literally and figuratively.  The area is developing into a restaurant hub where the who's who of Port Elizabeth hang out.  But its not just restaurants that you will find in the area.  The Jewish Pioneer Memorial Museum can be found in Raleigh Street and is housed in the original synagogue which was used by the Jewish community between 1912 and 1954.  The museum features a collection of memorabilia, ceremonial items and historical photographic displays such as a bridal gallery, Jewish ex-servicemen memorial and much more.  The museum is only open by appointment.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Main Post Office

This big imposing brown building in Govan Mbeki Street is the Port Elizabeth Main Post Office.  Its also the regional headquarters of the Post Office in the Eastern Cape.  I took this picture from the same spot as yesterday's one with the bouganvilla flowers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flowers over Main Street

Happy Valentines Day everybody.  I decided against doing the typical Valentines post (probably because I had no romantic photos on hand), but did include flowers.  Pretty Bouganvilla flowers above Govan Mbeki Street (previously known as Main Street).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Buying roosterkoek

I got to go on a quick trip to the Red Location precinct in New Brighton the other day to see where they are building the new Red Location Backpacker Lodge next to the Red Location Museum.  Some of the ladies who will be involved in the project are being put up temporarily in a container next to the site.  One of the activities that they will be doing is making traditional food for visitors and already they are selling roosterkoek (traditional bread rolls normally made over the coals) to the public from the site. Njam!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lower Baakens Valley

Looking down into the lower Baakens Valley from South End, this is very much what you see.  The road in the middle of the photo running up the hill is Brickmakerskloof with the St Georges Park Cricket Stadium just visible at the top.  The Baakens River is contained in a narrow channel from here down to the Port Elizabeth Harbour, which means that if a flood hits PE, this section always gets severely effected.  The buildings are mostly old warehouses used by different businesses.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exciting Changes

The Boardwalk Complex is about to embark on a new and very exciting journey.  They have just had their casino license renewed for another 15 years and part of the license agreement is the construction of a new international standard conference centre and 5 star hotel.  The Chinese style building in the picture used to house a Chinese restaurant and a couple of other shops, but it will be making way for the new addition to the complex.  Exciting Changes Underway Shortly!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stadium skydiver

Part of the halftime entertainment during Friday night's rugby game between the Southern Kings and the Free State Cheetahs was a skydiver landing in the stadium.  The guy had everybody on the edge of their seats as it seemed like he just cleared the railing on the top of the stadium roof on his way in.  Perhaps that was the way he wanted to do it...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Mosque Tower

The minaret (tower) of the Pier Street Mosque next to the Port Elizabeth Harbour as seen from a vantage point in South End.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bethelsdorp Historic Houses

A row of historic houses in the historic heart of Bethelsdorp.  The long white building on the left is the Almshouses which was built by the London Missionary Society in 1822 as part of the mission station.  They are still used to assist and accommodate the poor and destitute.  The other two houses also date back to the early days of the area and both are still occupied as well.  The left hand one between the Almshouses and the red one belonged to the first black school principal in Port Elizabeth.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

St Peter's Ruin and freeway

This is the view from South End just above the St Peter's Church ruins looking down towards the Settlers Freeway.  In the picture the Port Elizabeth harbour is on the right.  The tower just to the left of the freeway is the Campanile while the City Hall and Old Post Office towers are just visible on the far left.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Coastal info boards

I love theses information boards that you find at touristy spots and lookout points along the South African coastline.  Some of them teach you about whales and dolphins while others contain information on early people living there as well as what to find in the intertidal areas.  I think there should be more of them out there to educate the public even more on this beautiful coastline of ours.  And the coastline is beautiful.  I just bought the Shoreline DVD set on  Shoreline is an excellent documentary on the whole South African coast with fantastic information and super cinematography.  A must for every travel and nature lover.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Saluting the flag

Looking towards the Donkin Reserve from Fort Frederick, the giant South African flag (and when I say giant, its actually as big as a tennis court) is visible next to the top of the Donkin Lighthouse.  I liked the look of the flag with the Fort's guns in the foreground.  It has an certain officialness to it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Schools athletics at the Oval

I went to Chaos Boy's school athletics meeting at the Westbourne Oval the other day and all the memories from years gone by (long ago) of competing there came flooding back.  The noise on the stands, the chanting, the starter's pistol firing, the smell of the track in the heat, sore legs, dry mouth and the joy of coming in first (or in most of my cases, not coming in last).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sailing past Bird Rock

A yacht heading back towards the Port Elizabeth Harbour sailing past Bird Rock just off Hobie Beach