29 December 2012 – Sneaking Through Saldanha Security

126 SS Middelburg#126 SS: MIDDELBURG (GC2E8ZN)
Saldanha Harbour in Saldanha Bay, South Africa

S33°01.669 E17°57.821

After a brief caching hiatus – mainly due to Blonde Suikerbos being on leave with her folks in Dwarskersbos along the West Coast, Brunette took a lucky day off work to join up with them over New Year’s.

Our caching road trip took us to Saldanha Bay and four of its coastline Shipwreck Series caches – the first three being within a semi-restricted part of the Saldanha harbour, but no fear!  The ladies smiled friendly, applied some sugar charm and we where on our way past harbour security and into the restricted “military area”, boots, cameras and all…

With some help from the local fishermen, we quickly found our way along the granite boulders and the first cache was ours.

It tells the story of the Middelburg – the only Dutch vessel not to fall into English hands following a surprise attack in July, 1781 on a small fleet of Dutch vessels anchored in Hoedjies Bay along the Saldanha coast.  The British had the element of surprise and quickly captured most of the Dutch vessels apart from the Middelburg.

On the Middelburg, first mate, Abraham de Smidt, stayed behind after the rest of the crew abandoned ship and began to light several fires deep within the ship.  The vessel was soon ablaze and exploded once the fires reached the powder magazine after which she sank.

The breakwater has been built over the site of the wreck.

Visit SS: Middelburg at www.geocaching.com

127 SS Ovambo Coast#127 SS: OVAMBO COAST (GC2E8ZF)
Saldanha Harbour in Saldanha Bay, South Africa

S33°02.219 E17°58.402

The Ovambo Coast was a South African vessel of 217 tons, built in 1939.  She was wrecked on Marcus Island on 23 July 1958 in fog with a cargo of fish oil bound for Cape Town.

Visit SS: Ovambo Coast at www.geocaching.com

128 SS Merestein#128 SS: MERESTEIN (GC2E8Z9)
Saldanha Harbour in Saldanha Bay, South Africa

S33°02.527 E17°58.336

This cache is located near an area featuring spectacular breakwater action with massive waves crashing and cascading over boulders and other rocky outcrops.

The Merestein was built in Amsterdam in 1693 and was on her way to Batavia laden with silver.  As most of the crew suffered from scurvy, it was decided to enter Saldanha for fresh water and supplies.

On 3 April 1702, her Captain entered the bay along the narrower and more treacherous southern channel between Jutten Island and Jut Point.  A westerly wind was blowing her onto the island and an order was given to sail the ship into the wind, but the helm failed to respond and the vessel eventually ran aground on the south-west corner of the island.

Only ninety-nine of the 200 crew managed to save themselves and the graves of some of those who drowned can still be seen on Jutten Island.

Visit SS: Merestein at www.geocaching.com

129 SS Stellenberg#129 SS: STELLENBERG (GC2E8ZX)
Saldanha Bay, South Africa

S32°59.787 E17°57.898

Our last one for the day commemorates a 36 metre whaler which ran aground in 1959 when she broke anchor in heavy weather.

Visit SS Stellenberg at www.geocaching.com


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