MultiHull's Favourite Stopovers: Cape Town

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While chatting with the naval architect Alexander Simonis, he shows us a photo of his bolthole office. Through the panoramic bay window, the Cape bay is visible, with Table Mountain in the background. The colors are comparable to those of a Scottish loch. It's magical. We understand immediately why he is so attached to this part of the world, and how it inspires him. Cape Town lies on the 33rd parallel, to the north of the Cape of Good Hope, with the warm Atlantic Ocean lapping at its shores. This town, often considered to be South Africa's most beautiful, enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and the constant breeze isn't just a joy for us sailors. It also helps to temper the hot months of January, February and March...well it is the southern hemisphere!

In tennis there are four major tournaments which make up the Grand Slam. In ocean sailing there are three big Capes. Alongside Leeuwin and Horn it is one of the three legendary Capes: Good Hope. To the northwest, which can be either the last mooring before the South, or the first refuge after having navigated the fearsome Cape Agulhas, is the Cape. Or should we say THE Cape. Originally called the Cape of Storms, it was renamed Good Hope in the fifteenth century when those who were heading for the East Indies could finally start to head east after weeks of only travelling south. This is a stopover point which evokes our youth. In the wake of Vasco de Gama, sailors in round the world races with stopovers, whether solo (BOC Challenge, the forerunner of the Vendée Globe) or with crewed vessels (the famous Whitbread which became the Volvo Ocean Race), would put in here before taking on "The Indian". A few decades later, it's difficult to understand what our sailors were doing in this location with the shameful apartheid policy still being in force. But this continued, and the Rainbow Nation has been liberated.

Coming from the east, when you have got through the formidable Cape Agulhas and carried on as far as the Cape of Good Hope, then you only have another 40 nautical miles to cover before you can relax in beautiful Cape Town. The flat summit which has lent the 1087 meter Table Mountain its name means that this could only be one place. Just as it did for the 17th century Dutch navigators, the Cape's famous silhouette still provides great shelter. To make the trip by land to Cape Agulhas for example once you are safely moored is well worth doing.

Stopovers Cape Town

A wonderful panorama from Table Mountain.

When mooring there really is only one place to go. The Royal Cape Yacht Club is pretty much a must. Founded in 1905 it has that old-fashioned charm of one of those British clubs. However, with its good management, it offers the long haul sailor all the services which he would expect at such an important mooring. This starts with an excellent restaurant which will satisfy even the largest appetites that have been stoked by so many days at sea. On leaving the Club, the town and its surroundings ...

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