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HPS Outing to Gansbaai …. by Paddy Howes

HPS OUTING: ‘SUNRISE, SUNSET, SEA, SAND AND SUNBURN’ 20-22 Mar’09 Walker Bay Nature Reserve, sunrise at Danger Point, then on to the lighthouse, Kleinbaai to see the shark-cage-diving boats, Franskraal for sunrise, Gansbaai harbour, De Kelders for sunset. It was just one of the most productive photographic weekends – our first for HPS’09. Having just acquired my first ‘Notebook’ ever the day before, it was a huge learning curve listening to Irmel and Paulette praat computer talk! I’m not wired up yet so can’t talk to Steve and share the images. We met on Friday morning; Irmel chose to drive her new 4×4 so we could go into Walker Bay/De Plaat Coastal Reserve, which we did on Saturday afternoon. What a beautiful spot – no wonder JJ loves it. Irmel soon received her Honours, Colours and Certificate in 4×4 driving for ‘Rocks and Sand’ – Well Done! We parked at the top (above the beach), and slid down the sand cliff to the sea. A perfect day, hot and windy – which added a new feeling of drama to breaking waves, backlit, with curls of spray in long lines making for the shore. Huge brown rocks and white limestone slabs line the edge. We happily did ‘our thing’ for hours. As I was packing up to leave, Murphy was with me again – I had run out of Velvia (yes – film!). My eye caught two frantic females on the top of the cliff gesticulating madly for me to turn around. I had to go behind a big rock I was on, grabbed the D300 and went to investigate the fuss. What a stunning sight – a beautiful black bride in a white dress with train, with a long flowing white veil blowing in the wind; a smart-suited groom was beside her; the wedding photographer and assistant some distance away (a filmshoot or for real, I don’t know). I managed about 4 shots and was just getting into the scene when I was shouted at and told to F… off, and an angry man advanced towards me (- not at all friendly!!). So I hot-footed it back around the rock , collected my gear and casually walked away, not turning back. Irmel’s driving skills got us back up the hill and to De Kelders for sunset on the rocks… The limestone caves are closed at the moment, their entrance being on the shoreline. Lady Anne Barnard would come from Cape Town to bathe in their healing mineral waters – so we couldn’t follow in her wet footsteps! But we were given a stunning orange pink light on the sea and rocks and in the near dark we discovered our best shots – some as long as 10 – 15 seconds – nice stuff. Having been told by our landlady about the ‘Fish Lady’, we needed feeding after a long, hard day, and so we raced back to Gansbaai, arriving just as she was closing her shop – but she let us in and we ended the day enjoying delicious fish and chips on our verandah overlooking the harbour. AVs and photos followed. Friday evening and late Sunday morning we made pictures in the harbour – fishing boats, reflections, people getting crayfish etc. We had a few left-over chips to throw to the sea gulls but they were either very wild or very stupid, unlike the gulls in Cape Town, and our ‘birds in flight’ pictures stayed in our minds. In the morning at Danger Point we had watched fascinated as they collected shells off the rocks, then flew above the tar road and dropped them and ate the contents – they repeated it over and over again. The lighthouse is beautifully kept and we saw the area out to sea where the ‘Birkenhead’ had gone down in a storm – all women and children were saved – it’s a pretty lonely spot. Not knowing that part of the coast at all, we did a bit of investigating – first went to Kleinbaai to see the shark-cage-diving boats – a lot of activity getting ready to go out to sea – cleaning and preparing, getting the chum on board to feed the great whites. There are 7 boats, and lines of excited tourists arrive in their orange life jackets. The lady Nature Conservation officer kept a beady eye on the proceedings, plus her mad Jack Russel called ‘Coffee’. We didn’t buy the original shark tooth to hang round our necks at R300.00 – maybe next time! There were lots of macho-looking types to chat up – if that’s what blows your hair back! We ended up collecting stunning shells after a fantastic sunrise, talking Photoshop. Our accommodation was excellent (all new) at ‘Piet se Huise’. My traveling companions were great to be with, and I thank them for a great weekend. Each day we were up at 5.00am and bedded at 11pm, filling every minute with enjoyable activity. The next HPS weekend is to be held in the cold, dry Karoo winter – in Matjiesfontein – I won’t miss it!

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