Magic Moments on the 5 Capes 2016

5 Capes Flyer

The 5 Capes 2016 had countless magic moments.

Surfing side by side with Koen van Haeren in St Francis as he roared in disbelief on his first wave. The 2 minute waves at Cape Recife with Xavier Comelli and Jerome Moiny, which were the finest we had ever ridden. Stuart Schouw going toe to toe with a seal at Cape Seal was bizarre and conquering a relentless combination of current and swell around Cape Agulhas with Lewis Pugh and Muz Latham was endlessly rewarding. Not to mention the towering cliff faces of the Cape of Good Hope, the maelstrom of water in the Knysna Heads or the pin-point beach launches and landings. These were moments enough for a lifetime.

The 5 Capes of the Southern African Coast

The most challenging aspect of paddling around the 5 Capes is the small window in which to complete each one. The Capes of Good Hope, Agulhas, Seal, St. Francis and Recife are magnificent, however it’s those bare features of glory that make them particularly precarious.

Days 1/2/3:  As if scripted we were treated with sublime conditions for a Miller’s Run to get a feel for False Bay waters and our surfskis. After assessing conditions for cape number one, the Cape of Good Hope, we decided to paddle from Platboom to Buffels Bay. It was an icy launch through 2 -3 foot waves and a special start to the expedition.

Days 4/5:  Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, has a barren beauty and the ocean is bipolar…literally. Conditions made the point completely impassable. This placed us in the compromising position of being forced to complete it the following morning when conditions were better but far from ideal. Once around Agulhas, with only a brief acknowledgment, we battled an unrelenting current around Struisbaai point to the shelter of the harbor. With hushed tones and reprieve in hot drinks we reflected on the might of the southern ocean and the significance of our passing.

Days 6/7: Two capes down and almost halfway through we had experienced the ocean’s supremacy. At Cape Seal the obvious barrier of launching through a crunching shorebreak was well accomplished and the paddle around the Cape was a sight. Cape Seal is the western barrier of Formosa Bay and on a big swell a strong current forms along the cliffs and back out to sea. In groups of two we battled wearily back onto Robberg beach where contests of bodysurfing and army exercises ensued.

Days 7/8: At Cape St. Francis another life lesson was reiterated. Do it now! Within 30 minutes of arriving in the sleepy surf village we were negotiating the Cape. Conditions had aligned and the forecast for riding waves at Bruce’s beauties the following day were perfect. That day the sounds of hooting were gratifying as the group first dabbled, then frolicked in solid waves, pushing their limits.

Days 9/10: Cape Recife treated us with a south westerly breeze of perfection for our final voyage paddle around cape number five. The world’s longest surfski wave was working and a tough week was completed in style.

 

Reflection

We had completed the 5 Capes with a sense of reverence. In keeping the authority of the ocean in mind we negotiated them astutely. This represents the essence of the 5 Capes. A trying mission in a small window period, drawing on your skill and courage to complete it, not with negligence, but calculated risk.

It’s amazing how paddlers from across the globe get along. The ocean humbles every one of us and it’s those shared experiences that provided the context for many conversations on tour. That and superb settings. Daily, after the ‘work’ was done, a ritual of rest ensued where each could drift physically or mentally with a content soul. The camaraderie and laughter around evening meals would slowly fade and anticipation grow as our briefing of the next paddle took place. Another day, another Cape.

Paddle the 5 Capes

The 5 Capes 2017 will be from 23/02/2017 to 04/03/2017.

If the prospect of paddling around the 5 most iconic capes on Africa’s southern coast stirs something in you, contact us. You should be a competent paddler with a hunger for exploration and adventure yet able to appreciate the finer side of life fine lodging, tasteful meals and great camaraderie.