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By No owner — last modified Mar 17, 2016 09:43 PM

 South Africa - Profile

Facts

  • 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

Security in the cities and urban areas 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.

Weather

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.

South Africa Marine Forecast

Forecast Areas around Southern Africa

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.

Main Ports

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wapiti
wapiti says:
Mar 16, 2016 01:03 AM

Further to my comment about a lost customs claim refund posted December 2014 subsequently all the documentation was returned to me last year stating the claim was invalid because it had not been submitted in time. In fact it was submitted on 12 May 2014 the day before our departure and was lost by customs. I recommend that all yachts should be very careful if they hope to have a claim for VAT refund on capital purchase to be refunded.

MasterAthena
MasterAthena says:
May 02, 2015 03:55 AM

I practised as a barrister - and a solicitor - in south Africa for many years. Yacht Silvercloud has it exactly right. Show your teeth and you'll have no further trouble.You can threaten them with your embassy too - its a lot cheaper than a lawyer!

yachtsilvercloud
yachtsilvercloud says:
Jan 14, 2015 06:13 AM

The SA authorities are mostly run by disgruntled whites or unqualified blacks. They seem to make their own laws outside the real laws. Use a good maritime lawyer and they will back down quickly. There is no need to involve any yacht club or make payments to private yacht clubs as that is not law. Nor can they insist on anything other than international laws pertaining to visiting boats. Right in the beginning of the real law foreign registered boats are excluded. Insist on your rights or take them on.

wapiti
wapiti says:
Dec 05, 2014 03:57 AM

We left South Africa in May 2014 and put in a claim for a customs refund on over 200,000 rand for goods supplied which was worth about $3000.We waited 3 months and contacted the refund company who had no knowledge of our claim. After repeated emails and letters we have not received anything and now regard it as lost by South African Customs (SARS)

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 26, 2013 08:18 AM

Having investigated the above comment it appears that this regulation/inspection only applies to commercial boats over 7m. The author operates a charter boat out of Richards Bay.

Izak Labuschagne
Izak Labuschagne says:
Dec 19, 2013 05:29 AM

We were informed by a South African Maritime Safety Authority yesterday that any foreign vessels arriving in South Africa without or with lapsed safety certificates will need to undergo a SAMSA safety inspection. The requirements are set out at http://www.samsa.org.za/category/social-tags/checklist and http://www.samsa.org.za/content/small-vessels. They informed us that we would need to unpack everything so that they can inspect all bulkheads, frames and stringers.

South Africa
Cape Town (Table Bay)
Durban
East London
Hout Bay
Knysna
Mossel Bay
Port Alfred
Port Elizabeth
Richards Bay
Saldanha Bay
Simon's Town
St Helna Bay & Port Owen
St. Francis Bay
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