South African nautical history
In the beginning, there was only earth and sky.
From these primordial elements were born 12 titans: Vengeful, destructive giants that, for their crimes, were cast to the four corners of the globe and the fiery pits of hell to serve out eternity.
But the story doesn’t end there.
The lauded Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes tells of the titan Adamastor, banished to the tip of Africa as punishment for a forbidden love affair.
Adamastor is the Cape of Storms. He is the ancient sandstone and windswept brush of the peninsula brooding darkly over the sea, unleashing his wrath on any who dare pass in front of him. He was untameable, until he met his match in Vasco da Gama. After many thousands of brave sailors lost their lives while trying to connect the West with the riches of the East, da Gama challenged Adamastor on a dark, stormy night. “Who are you?” he cried, above the screeching of the wind and the crashing of the waves. “I am that vast, secret promontory you Portuguese call the Cape of Storms. Here Africa ends,” answered Adamastor who, humbled by da Gama’s bravery, calmed the seas to let da Gama pass and go on to make history.
But not everyone has been this lucky.
For centuries, children have quivered in their beds as they were told of Adamastor’s most infamous victim, Hendrik Van der Decken and his ill-fated vessel the Flying Dutchman. Drunk on his hunger for the spices and silks of the orient, Van der Decken raged and cursed Adamastor’s mighty gales, swearing an oath to round the Cape of Storms even if it took him until doomsday. For his pride, Adamastor tore the ship apart and dragged the captain and his terrified crew to the depths of the ocean below.
And so it came to pass that the Flying Dutchman was damned for all eternity to never drop anchor at The Mooring her captain was willing to sacrifice his soul for.
To this very day, a sighting of this unearthly vessel spells doom for those who clap eyes on her.
At the Cape of Storms, home of Adamastor and the site of countless tragedies, the eternal struggle between the warm Agulhas ocean currents from India and the frigid waters of the Benguela from the depths of the Atlantic has played out violently for millennia. It is here that many ships have met their end, dragging their cargo, crew and passengers to a watery grave as they lost their battle against the elements and never again found the safety of The Mooring they were so desperately seeking.