Cape of Good Hope

Geographical location

The Cape of Good Hope (Dutch Kaap De Goede Hoop, Kaap afrikaans the Goeie Hoop, English Cape of Good Hope, Portuguese Cabo da Boa Esperança ) is a very distinctive, earlier dreaded because of its cliffs cape near the southern tip of Africa. Politically, it is part of the Western Cape Province of South Africa.


The high and steep cliff with its upstream beach is rocky as Cape Point at the southern end of the Cape Peninsula, about 44 km south of the city of Cape Town was named after him. It is the most southwesterly, not the southernmost point of Africa (which is the Cape Agulhas ), and thus that the Cape, where the African coast begins its swing to the east and the passage displays in the Indian Ocean.

The shore stretches a rocky landscape that extends underwater to the sea as far as the eye can see. Most rocks are just 50 cm to 3 m below the water surface, and project with their tips at low water sometimes more, sometimes not at all out of the water. In addition to the rocks, one major danger comes from the strong winds at the Cape, which, even if a sailing ship this place actually travels around far enough, push it back towards the coast, so that it can then run onto the rocks. These dangers impressively document the at least 23 ships that now lie there as a wreck on the ocean floor.

The displayed near the water on a wooden panel wide geographic coordinates are: 34 ° 21 ' 25 "S, 18 ° 28' 26" E - 34.35694444444418.473888888889

The lighthouse is at 34 ° 21 ' 13.7 "S, 18 ° 29' 25.4 " E - 34.353818.4904.

Analyzes of satellite data ( satellite geodesy - TerraSAR- X was launched in June 2007) have shown that at the Cape, the probability of freak waves is greater than elsewhere. The reason is considered the interaction of strong winds and an opposite ( warm ) water flow, the Agulhas Current.

Nautical history

In April 1488 the Cape was discovered by the Portuguese navigator and explorer Bartolomeu Diaz, as he had already ( in coastal distance) travels around the southern tip of Africa and was on his way back to the north. Diaz was (probably late August ) started with two caravels and one supply ship in the summer of 1487 to a top secret expedition; because of the prescribed secrecy of explorers ride are no written records.

Why is not unique to clarify whether Diaz with his astrolabe, the Stormreach or the actual Southern Cape - has measured - Cape Agulhas ( Cape Agulhas ). On the further back he found in the southern Walvis Bay to be left behind supply ship again, on the only four men were but alive. Therefore, the fleet did not arrive until the end of December 1488 back in Lisbon.

With the opening of the Suez Canal in November 1869, the route around the southern tip of Africa lost abruptly in importance (see also distance savings). Thus, the route from Europe to China was also attractive for steamboats; many sailors gave way to the long trips to Australia ( where steamboats in relation to its charging way too much coal consumed ). 1914, the Panama Canal was opened.

In the summer of 1988, a shipping crisis began. During this crisis, many ships went deliberately slowly to save fuel ( "slow steaming" ). At low fuel price at times it was profitable to take the detour around the southern tip of Africa to save the high fees passage through the Suez Canal.

Since 2009, the waterway of the Suez Canal is deeper than before; Ships with a draft less 20.1 meters can ride him. Previously could not drive through the Suez Canal a number of ships ( at least fully loaded ); for ships of this size, the term became common Capesize (see also Suezmax ). Maximum lengths do not exist, since there are no locks and no tight bends in the Suez Canal.

Main article: Bartolomeu Dias # expedition