Tag Archives: Michael Baert

Whale watching from the Cape of Good Hope

In my writing group we say February is the new January, by which we mean that the new year takes time to bed in. I spent January thinking about where I wanted to go in 2015, not just in terms of travelling, but with my writing too. This will be the year I finish my novel ‘The Precious Sea’ and revisit the draft version of my next novel ‘Perspective’. This will also mean revisiting Italy to immerse myself in the renaissance again. But my first visit of the year will be to the sea. It is such a great source of inspiration and, as I’m finding out through this blog, it touches the hearts of so many people.

I asked one of my most-travelled friends, the historical tourism specialist, Michael Baert, about a piece of sea that has left a lasting impression on him. This is what he said:

‘Standing on top of Cape Point I’m looking south and can almost feel the cold of Antarctica reaching out to me. I can feel the ice in the light breeze .

Although Cape Point is often considered as the southernmost tip of the African continent, the real tip is Cape Agulhas some 93 miles to the east-south east. It’s at Cape Agulhas that the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet and when the warm Indian Ocean encounters the cold Atlantic it turns back on itself creating very choppy seas. I cannot help thinking of those ships that in the 17th century landed here and started a small town that is now the beautiful and modern Cape Town. This brings my memories back to Wilbur Smith who wrote so well about the development of South Africa, starting here in Cape Town and moving up north as the years went by. From here one can see ships turning west and north to move up the Atlantic towards Great Britain and Europe, but also the scientific and supply ships moving strait south into the Antarctic Ocean.

Michel's blog piece

Looking way down to the foot of the peninsula – I later found out that I was standing 87 meters (285 ft) above the sea – I saw a small pod of whales going east to west around the peninsula. I was too far up to see them well but I could see them blowing  and counted 4 or 5 of them as they moved to the western side of the continent.

I knew that whale watching tours were organized out of Cape Town but had not at all expected to see some so close to the edge; notwithstanding the distance it was a great sight. It reminded me of whales and dolphins I had seen near the Canary Islands and seals off the coast of Norfolk. I never went scuba diving but can imagine what it would be like to be under water watching these huge whales, swift dolphins and seals in their natural habitat. Whale watching is fine but I think it should be done under water to give us the full feeling and excitement. However if you cannot do that, the Cape of Good Hope is the second best thing!’

Do you have memories or photos of whale-watching to share? Or let me know about your favourite piece of sea for a future post.

Have a great February.


You can see Michael at: