Shipwreck Carcasses Strewn Around the Cape of Good Hope

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Image: Dillon Marsh

Shipwreck of the BOS 400, which ran aground in 1994

They lie on the rocks like the carcasses of strange, beached sea creatures. Hulking wrecks of metal, tossed up by the ocean, slowly disintegrating in the wet, salty sea air. The water behind them may look calm in these photographs, but don’t be fooled: this is one of the world’s most dangerous coastal stretches for ships – as indicated by the broken relics that litter the shoreline or lie beneath the waves.


Image: Dillon Marsh

A ship stranded on the rocks

The original name given to the Cape of Good Hope was the “Cape of Storms”, and as the moniker suggests, it’s a place with violent, turbulent waters and notoriously treacherous gale force winds. The coast around the Cape is rugged and rocky but also spectacularly beautiful – although the crew of the many ships that have been wrecked on its shores could be forgiven for having missed that last point.

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Image: Dillon Marsh

An entire section of this ship is missing.

The first recorded sighting of the Cape by explorers was in 1488. Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias was on his way back to Portugal, after surveying the southernmost point of Africa. Following a journey fraught with conflict, Dias’s ship was almost wrecked on the rocks, inspiring him to name the area the “Cape of Storms”. Clearly, this was not a moniker to inspire great confidence in sailors, so it was later renamed the “Cape of Good Hope” in order to encourage exploration.

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