Sunday, December 5, 2010

Surviving the Cape Flats

We woke up on Sunday morning to much better weather than the first weekend of the beach challenge.  There was also the added excitement of risking one’s life when taking on the beaches of the Cape Flats Coast. It took being flipped the bird and being given a “Jou ma se ….” from an irate driver while making our way down the M5 and past Grassy Park for us to feel like we were in a Challenge…we were beginning to think that the knives we had packed in our beach bags were going to come in handy!
We drove along Baden Powell Drive, full of anticipation and a little anxiety, towards our first stop, Macassar Beach.  The security guard didn’t take too kindly to us asking him to pose for a photo with us…he was only interested in whether or not we had any alcohol in our car.  After a thorough search of the boot, he discovered that we didn’t and so we were let through.
Macassar Beach was deserted but for a lonely lifeguard, sitting outside his weather-beaten hut, reading a book. It turns out that it was a text book and he was actually studying for his exams. We interrupted him to pose for a  few Baywatch photos. The water wasn’t too bad, but to say that the facilities were rundown would be an understatement – we weren’t going to make use of the clubhouse at Macassar Beach!
The second beach was Monwabisi, a coastal resort that caters mainly for the residents of nearby Khayelitsha.  On the way to Monwabisi, we decided to capture the moment as the five of us stood at the entrance to that is living on the edge! We felt a little uncomfortable when driving into the area as it was packed with people, many who looked like rather unsavoury characters. But after driving past 3 police cars, we felt a little better. We drove to the bottom end and after seeing families walking on the beach in their Sunday best, a handful of lifeguards and plenty of beach cleaners hauling black bags along the sand, we were feeling even more at ease about swimming at the second beach of the day. We had a few photos with the lifeguards (who didn’t look much older than 15), and then we made our way into the sea amongst all the locals from Khayelitsha. We frolicked and splashed in the beautiful turquoise water while everyone else on the beach stopped what they were doing and stared…probably wondering what had possessed these crazy whities to venture onto their beach. But they all seemed friendly enough, and after joining the beach cleaners to pick up 101 pieces of litter, we were on our way.
The next beach was one that wasn’t actually on our list. We were merely driving through the Wolfgat Nature Reserve area, saw a parking lot and a beach and decided to check it out. We drove up to the signboard to see where we were. It said: “Welcome to Beach”. If it told us we were at a beach, even if it was just ‘Beach’, we had to swim. So we were out the car and in the water which was also a beautiful colour and rather warm. There was quite a strong current and so it was a quick in and out. We picked up our litter count on the way back to the car, took a couple of photos and then we were off. We discovered later that the beach, though unnamed, was in fact on our another one down!
Our fourth destination was the beautiful Mnandi beach. Mnandi was reserved for blacks during the apartheid era. Its name can be translated as “lovely, just right”. The resort was granted Blue Flag pilot status for the 2003 summer season, and awarded full status a year later. It has maintained Blue Flag status ever since. We were impressed to see yet more lifeguards, dressed in their Baywatch reds, and there was even a jet ski at the ready in case of an emergency. The sea was warmer than "Beach" so we had a lovely dip in the waves before heading to the Mnandi Beach Kiosk for a snack and a drink. We had worked up quite an appetite with all the swimming and beach cleaning!
The fifth and final beach was Strandfontein. It is a large day resort with an enormous tidal pool backed by a pavilion and flanked with sandy beaches. Matt was the first to strip down to his boardies and rush into the ocean, only to alarm the lifeguard who blew who her whistle rather desperately and raced down to the water’s edge, yellow safety buoy in hand. The lifeguard, all 5ft of her, insisted that we swim in the tidal pool as the sea was too dangerous. She told us that it was low tide and very rocky and impossible to swim deep enough to get our entire body wet under the waves. She was obviously unaware of the nature of the beach challenge and the stringent rules that had to be followed in order to qualify for a legitimate beach swim. Matt and Andrew quickly gave her the low-down and we were given a one minute window in which to submerge ourselves in the shallow waters. It was all we needed. We raced into the water and then continued with litter duty.

Five beaches was enough for the day...8 down, 93 to go.  Check out our photos by clicking on the 'photos' tab.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cape Flats Coast - Here We Come!

We'll be hitting the Cape Flats Coast on Sunday morning.  Because we'll be in Gangster territory, we need to experience the beach as it is experienced by the locals, so the day's theme will be Gangsters Go to the Beach. 

Bring your  gold chains, gold teeth, baggy pants, caps (perched and angled) and any accessories you may have (I'm thinking car theft kit, drug kit, guns and knives - I'm sure you'll be more creative).

We're meeting at Plumtree Lodge at 09:00 on Sunday morning (safety in numbers) and we'll be ticking off the following beaches:
  1. Strandfontein - Blue Waters
  2. Mnandi
  3. Wolfgat Nature Reserve
  4. Monwabisi
  5. Macassar
If you need to get hold of either of us, contact us on 079 863 2798.  See you on Sunday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Off to a Damp Start!

The Beach Challenge kicked off this morning in the rain and wind at Kommetjie.
With a sea temperature of 15 and an air temperature of 19, it wasn’t the way we planned to start the Beach Challenge, but just after 10:00 and in the rain, we stripped  down to our costumes and made our way across the slimy rocks of our first beach, Die Kom.
The beach was empty except for Aiden and two of his mates - a couple of serious 10 year old fishermen standing in the shallow water in their gumboots and rain gear. 
The reason for the empty beach could have been any one (or all) of the following:
1.       The terrible weather;
2.       Aiden’s keenness to be left alone;
3.       The sign which welcomed us to the beach - “Warning:  Polluted Water – for health reasons swimming and recreational activities in these waters are at your own risk”;
4.       The write up the beach received in the beach guide published by the City of Cape Town – “This stretch of Kommetjie’s coastline is known as Die Kom… water quality problems discourage people from swimming here…”. 
To say that our first swim was quick would be an understatement.  Our first swim consisted of doggy paddle across a 4m stretch of ocean, a quick dunk of our heads and then a scramble across the rocks back to the car and out of the rain.  The water was this cold (––).
We dried ourselves off and were about to head off to the next beach or a coffee shop – we were slightly undecided and in two minds.  Suddenly, in the exact spot where we had just been swimming (and I mean EXACT) Aiden reeled in a shark!!!   The shark was an absolute monster… least 60cm…just a pity our cameraman  was still suffering from stage 1 hypothermia and wasn’t quick enough to get the camera bag open in time to record our near death encounter….1 beach down,  100 to go.
We moved on to Long Beach where there was a little more life.  Quite a few surfers meant that we weren’t alone on the beach.  Everyone was wearing wetsuits and there wasn’t much bare skin exposed by the surfers (or by anyone else).  We stripped down and charged down the beach, screaming all the way in and screaming all the way out.  The water was this cold (––).…2 down,  99 to go.
Noordhoek was next and definitely the coldest, about this cold ().  The weather was still pretty miserable and although the plan was to take a photo on the back of a horse and with the wind in our hair, it wasn’t possible.  All the horses were tucked up in their blankets at home…probably where we should have been too.  So, we didn’t get our action shot on the back of a horse but we did get an action shot of Matt riding an ass (you’ll have to look through the pictures to see the ass).  3 down, 98 to go.
We ended the first day of the Beach Challenge with a pub lunch at Skabanga’s in Noordhoek.  We were looked after by a waiter with cabin fever and a barman with an afro that hadn’t seen a brush or shampoo since the early 90’s.  The lunch was great, the coffee was strong and the staff were entertaining, but by 14:00 we were on our way home for a hot shower!
So, despite our concerns when we left home in the pouring rain this morning and despite the poor turnout for Day 1 of the Beach Challenge, we had a great time and have managed to tick off our first three beaches.  
Most of you that weren’t there today had good reasons – bachelors’ parties, hens’ parties, weddings and meetings (on a Sunday?) – this, together with the bad weather made your absence understandable, but we hope you’ll be there on Sunday when we’ll be taking on the beaches of the Cape Flats:
1.       Strandfontein – Blue Waters
2.       Mnandi
3.       Wolfgat Nature Reserve
4.       Monwabisi
5.       Macassar Beach
Bring your gorilla lock and pepper spray!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Challenge Begins!

After an awesome week of weather it looks like the rain is setting in for the start of the Beach Challenge!

Rain is forecast for tomorrow and a maximum temperature of 19 with showers is forecast for Sunday.  This means that the first weekend of the Beach Challenge will be a great test to see who's truly committed to the cause!

Because of the forecast, the plan is to knock off a few beaches as quickly as possible on Sunday morning and then head to Imhoff Farm for a hot chocolate and maybe some lunch.

We'll  make our way to Noordhoek at around 09:00, so either meet at our place (11 Plumtree Lodge, 250 Main Road, Plumstead) at 09:00 or at the car park in Noordhoek at around 09:30.  We plan on ticking off Noordhoek, Kommetjie (Die Kom) and Kommetjie (Long Beach).

With only three beaches to tackle, it is quite a chilled (no pun intended) start to the Challenge...easing ourselves into our work!

See you all on Sunday morning.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Challenge Is On!

Welcome to the Cape Town Beach Challenge 2010. 

This summer, life is all about the beach...and we'll be taking on all 101 of Cape Town's beaches. 

The challenge is to swim at all 101 of Cape Town’s beaches in 101 days!

Just like the great explorers of years gone by, we’ll face many challenges.  We’ll risk life and limb as we take on sand fleas, jellyfish, blue bottles, sand sharks and dodgy car guards.

We’ll have to negotiate killer penguins at Boulders Beach, rip currents at Monwabisi, great white sharks in False Bay and the gale force winds of the West Coast.
So what makes our challenge so much tougher than anything Jan van Riebeeck ever had to face and why do we deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the great explorers of the 16th and 17th Centuries?  The reasons are simple, I’ll list just a few: 
  1. Jan didn’t have to worry about city traffic or roadworks on his way to Cape Point;
  2. The Ozone Layer is a lot thinner today than it was when Jan was sunning himself on Clifton 4th;
  3. Jan didn’t have to deal with ‘no go’ nuclear coastal security zones in 1652; 
  4. Nobody was feeding the sharks in False Bay in the 1650’s;
  5. Jan didn’t have to worry about rent boys (who are sure to be appreciating us as we strut our stuff in our banana hammocks at Graaff’s Pool);
  6. I’ll bet good money there was no faecal bacteria at Milnerton Lagoon Beach in the 1650’s;
  7. We’ll be carrying our own umbrellas and towels (Jan had it easy - Harry the Strandloper would have been in charge of the Nivea and the other 17 slaves would have taken turns carrying the coolbag, the Coke and the deckchairs); and
  8. Nobody stole car radios in the 1650’s!
In addition to the above, we’ll have to negotiate hippies in Kommetjie, kitesurfers in Tableview and Deon Bing in Muizenberg.  We’ll try our hand at fishing in Fish Hoek and we’ll hunt for floaters in the frothy, brown waves of Strandfontein.

We’ll search for the undersea cables linking South Africa to the rest of the world at Melkbosstrand and we’ll visit the South African Navy in Simon’s Town.  We’ll hang out with lifeguards at Clifton and we’ll find out just how cold the Cape Town water is when we bare all at Sandy Bay.

We’ll be doing more than just adding our names to a list of great explorers, we will also be cleaning the beaches.  We will only be leaving each of the 101 beaches once we’ve collected 101 pieces of rubbish…. that’s over 10 000 bits of rubbish…I bet Jan never got his hands dirty like that!

The challenge starts on 21 November 2010 and finishes on 1 March 2011, with a three week Christmas break inbetween.  So if you’re brave enough, strong enough and if you’ve got what it takes to swim your way into the history books, then join us on the Cape Town Beach Challenge!