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Cape Town Holidays Mystery and History

The coastline of the renowned Cape of Good Hope is home to countless numbers of barnacle-encrusted shipwrecks which litter the sea bed of this beautiful, yet treacherous headland. In the tiny Smitswinkel Bay alone, there are six known wrecks and your Cape Town holidays would not be complete without a visit to at least one site. Even if you’re not a keen diver, the history of many of these wrecks can be appreciated with a visit to the museums and maritime centres of Cape Town’s harbour. The mystery and happenstance which surround some of these unfortunate ships is legendary, and tales of conspiracy and ghostliness abound. Whether by nature or something a little more sinister, it certainly cannot be denied that the aptly named Shipwreck Coast has claimed more than its fair share of victims. Here are just a few...

The Lusitania

In April 1911, under the cover of darkness and in thick fog, the massive passenger ship, the Lusitania, carrying nearly 800 people, came to grief at Bellows Rock just beneath the lighthouse at Cape Point. Luckily, most of the passengers survived due to the fact that she remained wedged on the rocks for nearly two days after the impact. A dangerous break makes this suitable for experienced divers only, but it is a fascinating site to explore on Cape Town holidays. Although disorienting fog was blamed for the accident, there were reports from several passengers of seeing an apparition of a ‘ghost ship’ out from the headland just before they ran on to the rocks.

The Thomas T Tucker

Once again in a blanket of dense fog, and apparently at the mercy of a faulty compass, the Thomas T Tucker hit the rocks near Olifantsbos in 1942 on her maiden voyage. Even taking into account the fog and the mis-reading compass, a definitive reason for the collision was never found. Her cargo of arms bound for the Allies in the Libyan Desert had been earmarked as a target for the German U-boats, however, ironically it was the Cape who got them in the end. Although there was no loss of life, the ship broke into three pieces which remain today wedged in their watery grave.

The Flying Dutchman

Every destination in the world has its own collection of myths, legends and local lore which either strike fear into the hearts or, conversely, fascinate the generations of curious ghost hunters eager to prove or disprove the tales. Those who travel to South Africa on Cape Town holidays will invariably hear tell of the ghostly sea-faring tale of the Flying Dutchman. The legend goes that, gripped in the clutches of either madness or alcohol, a certain Dutch captain was attempting to round the Cape of Good Hope in the midst of a horrendous storm. Ignoring pleas from the passengers and crew, he pushed on in treacherous conditions refusing to alter his course. It is said that in the course of the ensuing mutiny, a shadow appeared before him and bestowed upon him a deathly threat if he did not retreat. The captain refused and was cursed that his ship would never round the Cape, but would sail for eternity with his ghostly crew, never gaining a moment’s peace.

The story of the Flying Dutchman, although perhaps in part a piece of much elaborated fiction, has been proliferated by the many reports of sightings of the spectral vessel over the centuries. Perhaps you may see her on your Cape Town holidays...
About Author Rachel Hill :

Rachel Hill is a specialist consultant with Southern Africa Travel, a company offering Cape Town holidays (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>), as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your v

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Article Added on Wednesday, February 17, 2010
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