South Africa - Profile
- The number of cruising boats visiting South Africa has increased in recent years as the Red Sea route, previously preferred by yachts undertaking a circumnavigation, has mainly been avoided due to pirate activity. All round the world races now include South Africa on their itinerary.
- The country's convenient position and excellent yachting facilities make it a natural stopover, added to which are the many nature reserves that make South Africa an interesting place to visit. One major drawback is the weather and sailing conditions, the waters around the tip of Africa being among the most dangerous in the world.
- As there are yacht clubs in most ports, the clubs are the best source of information on local conditions. The yacht clubs like to be contacted in advance by those wishing to use their facilities. It is not normally allowed to live aboard a yacht, but a concession is made for visiting foreign yachts as a temporary privilege. Most yacht clubs, such as those at Cape Town, Durban and Richards Bay, have their own hauling facilities or work closely with a local boatyard.
- Yacht clubs are also convenient places to leave the boat while visiting the interior. The Zululand Yacht Club in Richards Bay is a good place from which to visit the Umfoloze, Hluhluwe and St Lucia reserves. Kruger Park is aproximately 570km by Road from Richards Bay.
- Getting work done: For any major repair, Cape Town and Durban have a complete range of services, prices are reasonable. Good for sails (repair and new). There are good chandleries in most ports, however cruisers have commented that it is surprisingly difficult to source parts. Note that many companies close for the holiday period mid-December until 4 January (approx.).
- Hout Bay, located some 20 miles south of Cape Town, is an excellent alternative for those who prefer a smaller port with surrounding beaches, wildlife and scenery to the busy marinas of Cape Town. Almost all repair facilities can be found here as well, often at a better rate and with more attention to detail. Another alternative to Cape Town is Simonstown, on the NW side of False Bay, some 15 miles North of the Cape of Good Hope. Tradespeople from Cape Town come to Hout Bay and Simonstown on a regular basis or will visit you on request.
- Provisioning: Excellent choice and prices are cheap.
Security in the cities and urban area is a concern.
Usually you can judge how much crime there is in a certain area by the amount the houses and businesses protect themselves with fences, barbed wire, guard dogs, security guards and electronic alarm systems.
Do not walk anywhere at night, and even during the day, it is advisable do so in groups if possible.
See the U.K. FCO website for the latest security advice.
Keep to main roads and avoid driving at night when visiting Northern KwaZulu Natal and Zululand, as there have been incidents of hi-jacking and robbery, particularly on isolated secondary roads.
Be vigilant on the approach roads to and from Kruger Park where there have been cases of car hijacking.
Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots. Don’t walk alone, especially in remote areas. Hikers should stick to popular trails. There have been violent attacks on hikers and tourists on Table Mountain.
Last updated March 2016.
The climate varies greatly between the coastal regions and inland, and also between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts. Generally, it can be described as temperate in the Cape area and tropical in the rest of the country. The prevailing winds of summer are SE, replaced in winter by W or NW winds. Gales are frequent and in summer depressions come up from the Southern Ocean accompanied by cold gale force winds. Conditions are particularly bad when such gales blow against the SW flowing Agulhas current.
For those who are concerned about the difficult passage from Durban to Cape Town, advice on the best tactics to use in these stormy waters can be obtained from the Durban Sailing Academy. Daily synoptic charts for the region can be found at http://www.cruisingconnections.co.za/index.php/weather
For Cape Town Weather forecasts phone 021 9340450. Local forecasts are transmitted on VHF Channel 25 at 1015, 1333, 1815 (all times UT) (Monitor Channel 16 and be prepared to wait until radio traffic on other channels has ceased).
Cape Town Radio (SSB) on 4375 8740 13146Mhz USB at 1015 1330 1815 utc daily for forecasts and reports. Gives you barometer pressure and wind speed around the entire SA coast line.
See Communications for details of SSB Nets which also have weather information.
SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service
Free weather service using voluntary weather observers to obtain critical weather information.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.