Thursday, October 16, 2008


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A walk from Sonnekus Guest House to.......

I took a timeout and went for a ramble, over the road and onto the beach in front of the house.

This little sandy strip was used by the early whalers.
They would launch their boats from the beach and row out into False Bay and harpoon the Southern Right Whales. Southern because they swam the southern oceans, and Right because they yielded a lot of blubber and floated after death. The carcasses were then retrieved by bigger Fishing boats, dragged up the beach to be cut up and the blubber rendered down by boiling.

In 1814, the Whaling Station (now Villa Capri) was constructed, and a couple of whalermen's cottages were also built near the station, now Jacob's Ladder. The elevation on the side of the mountain gave an ideal vantage point for whale spotting. In 1850, because of the terrible stench, the local residents of Kalk Bay pressurised the owners to move the St James Factory to Strandfontein.

The Southern Right whales came into False Bay to calve and mate, and because the whalers mainly caught female whales, it was only a matter of time before the industry suffered, due to lack of breeding stock. The last whale caught commercially in Kalk Bay was 1860.

To-day the whales are protected and their numbers are on the increase. The whales usually start arriving in May, but, the best viewing is October to November before they return home to Antarctica in December.

In January 1874, Edith, Emma and Madeline Nicholls who were on holiday in St James, went to the beach to bathe. They were carried out to sea by the backwash. Edith was rescued by the Kalk Bay fishermen who responded to Mr Nicholls call for help, but Emma and Madeline drowned. The beach is now known as Danger Beach..........