So you want to surf the islands hey? So why mortgage your house and auction your grandma to buy a ticket to the Mentawaii's when we have some perfectly good islands right here in Algoa Bay? OK, so they might not have palm trees (or any trees for that matter), the water's a bit chillier (and not to mention the sharks) and well, maybe the waves aren't quite so good. But hey, beggars can't be choosers.
The bay contains six named islands in two groups of three islands each, and guess what - they are the only islands along a 1,777 km stretch of coastline between Cape Agulhas and Inhaca Island in Mozambique. So there we go, we famous for something other than being......um, what? What are we famous for? Oh well, we're just a kiff lil town with lekker people, that should make us famous enough.
Not too sure about the surf potential of our lil island chain, but chatting to some ou's in the surf a while back the one guy had a mate who used to manage the lighthouse on Bird Island and reckoned he got some waves out there. But who knows, the right swell, the right direction, the right wind....we might even have a G-Land right in our back yard. And then again, we might not!
The first bunch of islands are just off the harbour at Coega and are called the St Croix group, consisting of a main island of that name and two lesser islets, Jahleel Island just off the breakwater and Brenton Island on the seaward side. They pretty much consist of big rocks covered in bird shit, and their surf potential looks rather limited.The second group consists of Bird, Seal and Stag Islands, which are on the eastern side of Algoa Bay, and they look a bunch more promising. Provided you aren't to phased by large marine fish with plenty rows of teeth. Bird and Seal islands are home to the highest concentration of great whites in the bay.
Bird Island, pick your reef or point.
Also worthy of mention, although it doesn't quite qualify as an island...cos it doesn't really stick up out the water much, is Despatch Rock aka the Bell Bouy. It lies 2.4 km due east of Summerstrand, and is submerged at high tide. Calling a rock Despatch. Ah, the insight of our forefathers!
The islands are famous for a bunch of stuff. They're home to the largest breeding colony of Cape gannets in the world as well as being home to 43% of the global population of the African Penguin, the majority of which are on St Croix.
Jahleel Island. Hmm, no firing points on this one
Bird Island might even be our local treasure island. Back in 1755, the East Indiaman Doddington was wrecked here while underway from Dover to India. Most of the passengers and crew vrekked, but a few managed to make it to the islands where they were marooned for 7 months until one ou managed to make a boat for them. The ship was apparently carrying a significant quantity of gold and silver, some of which was illegally salvaged in more recent times. But hey, who knows, maybe there's still some goodies on the seabed around there.....unless the pearlies have cleaned that out too. So there we go...Indo has Treasure Island, so do we! Just that the quality of the rights on ours vs theirs seems to vary!
I'm thinking this place does NOT smell so lekker
Nautical charts of the bay caution mariners that "projectiles and badly corroded mustard gas containers have been found in the area between Cape St Francis and Bird Island out to depths of 400 metres. Trawlers should exercise the greatest caution."
Turns out the chemical weapons were dumped in the bay in the aftermath of World War II. During that conflict, Port Elizabeth was used as a research, manufacturing and storage site for Allied poison gas. Yrrr, why do we always get the short end of the stick hey? Anyway, an official at the SA Navy's Hydrographic Office recalls that at least one trawler once snagged a projectile or canister in its nets and that the crew were badly burned. The condition of the canisters and projectiles are not currently known. There is no record of any recent incidents.
Bird Island, some swell pulling through the pass
St Croix group on the left, Bird Island group on the right
OK, so I guess in retrospect maybe you should sell the house and auction of gran and head to Indo, cos our islands despite having some street cred of their own just don't quite make it as legit surf destinations. Unless of course you want to import some palm trees and build a few artificial reefs, then we might be in business!
Yeh, there're a few of these ou's about out there.
Wanna live here and collect bird shit for a living? No? Well then do your homework and make sure you pass and get a better job!