Table Bay Harbour
Cape Town - South Africa
The sea wall at the Table Bay harbour in Cape Town
The outer wall at the harbour extends approximately
1.5 kilometres out into the bay.
Its job is to provide safe waters within the Table Bay harbour
to allow tugs and ships a safe passage into the docks..
Visiting it can be very interesting especially if you have a fishingrod with you.
One Sunday afternoon having nothing better to do I took my
two rods and went down to the jetty to try my luck.
There were a number of people sitting along the inside of
the wall facing Table Mountain with their lines in the water.
Every now and again one of them would pull out a baby hake
and drop it onto the jetty next to him. I thought “Great,
the fish are biting” so I baited up and cast into the sea
on the outside of the jetty.
There is a metal railing at the far end of the wall to keep
people from falling in and it was this railing on which I leaned my rod.
A Sunday afternoon is great especially if the
weather is really nice and the sea flat.
There are plenty of small boats about making
there way in and out of the harbour.
Every hour or so one of the ferries that transport people
to and from Robben Island coming roaring past with a full load of passengers.
Everybody on board is friendly and wave to us on the jetty.
Of course some of the old salts don't bother as they have seen it all before.
It was when I was not concentrating on my rod that I had the
biggest bite I have ever had while fishing.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw my rod start to move
and fall over. I grabbed it and luckily for me I
had left the drag open on my reel.
The fish which had taken my bait made a bee line for
Robben Island with me hanging on for dear life.
I did not have too much line on my reel so had to move
down the jetty. It was then that I encountered my first problem.
There were fishermen on both sides of me with their lines
in the water and my fish was going their way at pace.
I just shouted “let me through” and miraculously they
stepped back and dropped or pulled in their lines.
There was suddenly a lot of excitement on the jetty.
What had taken my line and when would it stop its flight out to sea.
The kids were all over the place, in front of me looking
over the end of the jetty and wanting to know what I had caught.
It's great fun when you are hanging onto your rod for dear life.
Eventually the fish stopped its flight and settled on the bottom.
Some of the more experienced anglers sidled up and
started to give me advice.
Do this, don't do that, one even told me what I had hooked
although it was at the bottom of about 20 metres of water.
Having never played a large fish before I listened
to his advice and managed to get the fish turned and
eventually got it to the base of the jetty wall.
I could not even get close to the edge as there were
so many kids in front of me. They were so excited that
I was scared that they might fall in and have to be rescued.
It took an effort to get a bit closer to see what I had hooked.
It was a skate (or ray) and it was big. Its wings were about
six or seven feet across and there it was looking at me
about 4 metres below me in the water.
How to get it out of the water became a problem. I needed
to remove the hook from its mouth as I had decided that
it was not a fish I wanted to keep and eat.
Some anglers had pole gaffs which were to short and one guy
had a rope gaff that he dropped into the water
in an attempt to gaff the fish.
It was then that fate played its role. The skate came
up close to the jetty wall and managed to snare the
line on a barnacle which caused it to snap.
Was I relieved? You bet!
I'd had my moment of glory and the fish was
free, albeit with a hook in its mouth.
Angling is not the only pastime on this jetty.
Every now and again the pilot boat steam past to a ship
out in the bay. About 15 minutes after it has gone past
the two ugly sisters will appear. These are the two large
tugs that guide the ships into the harbour.
Watching them is really interesting.
As the ship gets closer to the harbour one tug will steam up
to the front of the ship and a line will be passed down to the tug.
Once the line has been attached to the tug it will steam ahead
of the ship into the waiting harbour.
The other tug in the meantime has also attached a line to
the stern of the ship and is steaming backwards into the harbour
at the same speed as the other two ships.
Once inside the harbour the lines are dropped and the ship
maneuvered into its berth.
The jetty is used by many people for different purposes.
One afternoon while I was waiting for the fish to bite I
noticed a wedding party a couple of metres from me. Bride,
groom and bridesmaids all having their photos taken.
On my other side was another party of people.
They were also smartly dressed and had a small casket with them.
It turned out to be the scattering of someone's ashes, some of
which blew over me as they spread them on the sea.
Its not often that you can witness a wedding and a funeral at
the same time in such close quarters.
This jetty has many moods, none better than in the evening
when it is full moon. You can watch the moon rise over the
Tygerberg, looking like a large cheese and slowly changing
from yellow to white as it rises into the night sky.
While you are watching the moon rise you can listen to
the eerie wail of a siren out in the bay.
Its funny, it can only be heard at night although it is
always there. For the unsuspecting person one could even
imagine it as a voice calling from the sea.
The jetty shows its true colours when the sea gets rough.
The waves breaks over it and if you happen to be on it when
that happens you will find yourself in the middle of
the harbour as you will get washed off.
Over the years a number of people have been washed off
with only a few living to tell the tale. Once you fall
off that wall there is no way to get back onto it.
Its between four and five metres to the sea below
with no handholds or ladders to allow you to climb back.
After the last mishap when a father and son were washed off
and nearly drowned, the harbour authorities have become stricter.
Warning signs have been erected and a permit has
to be obtained by anglers wishing to fish off the jetty.
Take a stroll out to the end of the jetty, you will be
amazed at the action you will find going on around you
as you stand in the middle of Table Bay.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Cape Town - Table Bay Harbour Wall
Page updated 17.6.2015