For those cruisers sailing along the Coast of South Africa , don’t pass Saldanha Bay without stopping for a visit , it is well worth your time. Yes I know that it means back tracking to Cape Town to Clear out of South Africa . But don’t let this stop you from visiting the best natural harbour in South Africa.
From the moment I arrived at the Saldanha bay yacht club to the time I left I was made to feel welcome, not only by the club members but the whole community . For a sailor traveling alone to be so quickly made to feel apart of the community was a unique and a very special experience .
I had been at sea for three nights , sailing alone from Simons Town in difficult conditions. Coming to anchor off the Saldanha Bay Yacht club in the morning I had a quick bite to eat then hit the bunk. While I was asleep two members of the club thoughtfully came out to check that I was ok. They had watched me sail in and had wondered if I had engine trouble. The kindness to a stranger didn’t stop there.
A few days later Ernie and his wife Belinda took me for an all day drive to show me the surrounding country side.
On another day I went for a sail with Sandy in his lovely little sloop for the day to Longebaan , where we had lunch and a beer before returning to the yacht club.
The club manager , Simon , was very helpful and on one day came out to Sara.m to pull me up the foremast so that I was able to make some repairs.
Friky ( sorry wrong spelling) a master on a ship docking tug and also a club member invited me out for the morning on the tug he captained to assist freighters coming into the port.
Other club members offered to drive me to the different stores so that I could re supply Sara.m for the Atlantic crossing.
While in Saldanha Bay I had Sara.m hauled out at Yacht port for bottom paint and some other work. I can highly recommend Yacht port as a place to have your vessel serviced . The facility and staff are excellent and the prices very competitive .
The manger Glen ( another club member) was very helpful . I had anchored Sara.m near the shipyard on the day before I was to be hauled out . When I went to raise my anchor I found that the chain was caught on the bottom. Glen organized a diver right away to clear my chain , later on I needed some welding done on my rudder. Once again Glen organized a welder to come over to the yard for this job. ( the welder was Andrew , the club Commodore ) . In each case the fee for these services was very very reasonable.
Of interest to cruisers , Saldanha Bay is a commercial fishing port . It is well supplied for servicing vessels……yes even yachts! If you can’t find what you need for your vessel there , Parrden Island in Cape Town is an hours drive away.
I was there for 7 weeks anchored off the yacht club and found the anchorage to be well sheltered and the holding to be good in moderately soft mud and sand. Despite Saldanha Bays proximity to the Cape peninsula and it’s intense weather Saldanha Bay has much milder conditions . The club has moorings available if you prefer them. The club itself is small , tidy and very user friendly . Should I ever travel this way in the future I will be spending much more time visiting this friendly place.
Special thanks to Brian , Shirley , Anje , Andrew , Sandy , the triplets and everyone else in Saldanha Bay for making my stay there so enjoyable and memorable .
Alan H. Macdonald , owner , Master , S.V. Sara.m