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Our coastline is littered with the wrecks of ships that were caught in storms and ran into rocks or reefs, or ran aground on sandbanks, some of which were washed high up beyond the high tide water mark.

The most well known shipwreck is that of the Kakapo, which ran aground on Noordhoek Beach in May 1900 en route from New Zealand to Cape Town. It mistook Chapman’s Peak for Cape Point in poor visibility.

The Clan Monroe, loaded with cyanide and dynamite, ran aground on the rocks near the site of the present lighthouse on the 2nd July 1905. A sister ship, the SS Clan Stuart ran aground in False Bay between Fish Hoek and Simonstown ten years later.

The Maori and the Umhlali were both wrecked in 1909, at Duiker Point and Olifantsbos respectively (north and south of Kommetjie). There is a beautiful hike that takes you past some of the wrecks in Cape Point Nature Reserve that start at Olifantsbos. More info on this and other hikes HERE.

Small wonder then that it was decided to build lighthouses at Cape Point and Kommetjie soon after these events. Although they were built in 1914, the First World War delayed their opening.

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