Picturesque harbours of Cape Town (1)

Last week I broke away from my usual Cape Town blog topic, to cover a Dance Studio. This week I am back to the historical side of things by starting a series on some of the  harbours in Cape Town.

This week I will take you to Kalk Bay.

From 1742 the Dutch East India Company decided to use Simon’s Bay as a winter anchorage for their ships during the months of May to  August.

It was not the easiest task to get supplies to Simon’s Town due to the condition of the road which was hardly adequate. In places the mountain would stretch down to the seaside. Apart from that there were hazardous pockets of quicksand to cross which often brought oxen to a standstill.

Kalk Bay then became a way station for these supplies, usually consisting of ships rations,  parts such as sails, anchors and masts.Arriving in Kalk Bay by Oxwagon, the supplies would then be transferred to barges which would ferry the supplies to Simon’s Town.

For their return trip to Cape Town, the wagons would be loaded up with lime, aka kalk, and the staple food of slaves – fish.

It was only after 1795 once the British had occupied the Cape that the Royal Engineers built a proper road to Simon’s Town. This was quite a disaster for Kalk Bay, as their barges were no longer needed. It soon became quite busy again as whaling was prohibited in Simon’s Town due to complaints re Hygiene and smells. Kalk Bay snapped up the opportunity and eventually had 3 whaling stations.

Not long though and the wanton killing of the female Southern Right Whales, coming to the Cape to calve, brought these magnificent creatures to the brink of extinction. In 1835 Kalk Bay’s economic activity was once again in the doldrums.

During the 1940’s, Filipino’s came to settle in Kalk Bay after being shipwrecked near Cape Point. The fishing in False Bay was abundant and soon the word spread and more Filipinos arrived, deserting their ships and settling as fishermen. As word spread more Filipino refugees arrived during the 1850’s escaping from anti-Spanish riots in the Philippines. When the US took possession of the Philippines in 1898, many of these refugees left Kalk Bay to return to their homes.

The population of Kalk Bay grew once again when many emancipated slaves in the Cape,  originating from Malaysia, Java & Batavia, decided to make their lives in the village.

In 1883, the railway arrived in Kalk Bay grew rapidly. This affected the lives of the population dramatically and their way of life in this small fishing village changed. This population growth resulted in more residential and shopping infrastructure. Jobs were also available farther away from the village due to the railway.

The Kalk Bay fisherman are now struggling to survive the gradual but nevertheless catastrophic reduction of fish in False Bay from 1955 onwards due to ‘over fishing’.

This following paragraph (in italics) was extracted from: http://countrystudies.us/south-africa/67.htmThe government enforces strict conservation measures, including fishing quotas and closed seasons, to prevent overfishing and to protect the fishing industry. Since 1977 it has enforced an exclusive South African fisheries zone of 200 nautical miles. In 1983 the government reduced foreign fishing quotas, and in the early 1990s it began scaling down the rights of five foreign countries still fishing in South African waters–Japan, Israel, Spain, Portugal, and the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Much of the fishing near large ports, such as Cape Town, Durban, Mossel Bay, and Port Elizabeth, is controlled by Portnet, the national port authority, in the mid-1990s. The provincial governments supervise some harbor facilities and provide marine conservation inspectors at official fishing harbors, including Saldanha Bay, Hout Bay, and at least ten others. End of extract.

These days the Kalk Bay harbour still operates but as you can see from the photographs the fish seller’s concrete stands are mostly empty. On the day I was there, only one fish seller was  operating with the few fish that she had available. On the plus side, Kalk Bay has great potential as a Tourist destination. There are many Restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts available in the village as well as along the coast.

Next week I will take you to Simon’s Town.

Have a good week!

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