"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Africa Journals, Ch. 63, Seal Island

The Africa Journals

Chapter 63

Part 5 of the Cape Peninsula

My mother-in-law said, 'One day I will dance on your grave.' 
I said 'I hope you do; I will be buried at sea.'

There will be a bit of rough water at the end of the bay,” said Brian.   “Then the boat will slip behind the protection of Seal Island and it will be calm.”

If he was trying to worry us, it didn’t work.   I’ve been in some rough waters the last few years.  There was the huge catamaran sailing from Cairns, Australia, out to the Great Barrier Reef and half those on board were seasick.   There was the Stormbird plunging up and down in a furious blizzard and high seas as it crossed from Halibut Cove to Homer, Alaska.

And the worst was the monstrous storm the 300-foot Fram fought through on the way from the Falklands to South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean as we were taking the scenic route to Antarctica.   Good thing it was dark outside and I couldn’t see as the horrendous winds churned the cold sea into 55-foot waves.   Yep.   I’ve been in some rough seas lately, so a little jaunt out of  Hout Bay on the Cape Peninsula was nothing.   After all, if the tide got low enough, you probably could jump from rock to rock to the “big” rock they call Seal Island.  Or maybe not.

This was the second day we were on the Cape Peninsula south of Cape Town and Seal Island to see the Southern fur seals was on the agenda.   The motor coach took us to Hout Bay on the western side of the peninsula.   Once there, we made our way through a multitude of tourists and boarded our boat in such a hurry I neglected to take a photo of it.   I will guess at 40 feet long with somewhere between 30 and 50 passengers.  That’s a wild guess.

Hout Bay is on the left side about half way down the photo.

Brian was right.    We cruised out of the harbor and into calm water.   We passed kayakers heading in the opposite direction.   As we neared the head of the bay, white breakers stretched across in a long line.   Our boat hesitated as another boat exited the “calm” pool in the lee of the seal rocks, then we rolled a bit as we entered the pool.

Hout Bay from across the bay at Chapman's Point.   We were heading for the rocks at the far left, under the large promontory.

I didn't take a photo of our boat, but I was awed by this beautiful yacht.

The castle on the hill is, Brian said, a B&B.

Southern fur seals and sea gulls were all over the place.    And mist.   The air was saturated with mist from the crashing waves.

Note the ear flaps on the seals.   The fur seals are the only seals with ear flaps.

Misty air.

The boat maneuvered in the small pool for a while, then headed out as another boat waited its turn.    That’s when things got dicey.

I took a couple photos, then put the camera in a pocket and opted for hanging on to the rail.   As the boat rolled into an extreme starboard list in the hollow of a wave and I was wondering if she would right herself, I was extremely glad that we weren’t on the other side of the peninsula in False Bay where people go to see great white sharks breaching with seals in their jaws.

None too soon for me, the boat righted and in a couple minutes we were back in the calm of Hout Bay.

Well, that was enough excitement for today. 

Now we’re off to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to look at flowers.   Little did I suspect that once again I would find my adrenalin pumping.

This photo from Flowcomm shows the size of the charter boats.

Photo from South African Tourism.   We entered the calm area from the left and puttered around in the water where the seals are.

This photo from Action Adventures Extreme shows Hout Bay and the seal rocks outside the bay.   Not a very sharp photo, but it gives you and idea of the area.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's Hard Out There for a Corvid

The sharp black beak taps the small container, easily puncturing the white plastic.   The raven tastes the spicy delights within, a mixture of sweetness and tang for which it has no words.  It moves on to the second container with more of the piquant sauce that helps take the edge off its hunger.

Then a human comes along in a burgundy truck, interrupting its al fresco dining.  The raven spreads its wings and heads for the nearest spruce tree.   In the world of ravens, those sauce containers are dinner.   In the world of humans, those sauce containers are litter, tossed out the window of a moving vehicle with the rest of the McDonalds wrappings. 

The human stands with grab stick and yellow bag in hand, considering the white sauce containers.  It moves away, gathering the paper bag, napkins, and cardboard sleeves, before returning to the five sauce cups.   Three are still full.   More consideration, some mulling, a bit of indecision.   Into the yellow bag goes the raven’s dinner.

Tonight the wind blows and the rain lashes at the raven clinging to a tree branch, its belly no doubt empty, and all because of a human obsessed with ridding the highway of litter.  The raven will sleep uneasily this autumn night as its roost threatens to upend the bird with each gust.

Tonight the wind blows and the rain lashes at the home of the human.  It is well fed, warm and comfortable, safely harbored from the screaming wind and lashing rain.  Yet, all is not well in the home of the human.   It is haunted by thoughts of the raven, feels remorse for robbing it of its dinner, and wishes it could turn back time to move the sauce containers to an inconspicuous place.

In one of these bags is a raven's dinner.