Saldanha Bay

- South Africa - Western Cape - Saldanha Bay
Saldanha Bay - 33°01´13´´S, 17°56´59´´E

Short Description

Saldanha Bay was named after Joris van Spilbergen who was also responsible for naming Table Bay. The Port of Saldanha Bay, South Africa's largest natural anchorage and port with the deepest water is 60 nautical miles northwest of Cape Town (approximately 140 km by road). It is partly protected by a 3.1km long artificial breakwater.

Before that time Table Bay was known as Aguada de Saldanha after a Portuguese admiral Antonio de Saldanha who was killed by indigenous people in 1503. Aguada de Saldanha literally means "watering place of Saldanha". Saldanha Bay was named after a man who never actually visited its shores.

Additional Info

The Dutch explorer Van Spilbergen visited Saldanha Bay in 1601, and probably only the lack of fresh water prevented this otherwise excellent natural harbour from becoming the major port along the south coast of Africa instead of Cape Town.

Saldanha Bay’s former abundance of seals, fish, and guano deposits was long contested between French, English, and Dutch interests, with exploitation restricted only by the lack of fresh water in the area.

The port has developed into a modern harbour only since 1976, when it became necessary to facilitate the export of iron ore from the Northern Cape. Saldanha is widely known for its Naval Training Base and the South African Military Academy. The SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve is a highlight of visits to the area during late winter and early spring. Not only are the flowers spectacular, but during this time, Southern Right Whales also visit the safe water in and around the reserve.

The port also houses the South African Naval station of SAS Saldanha as well as a National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) rescue station and a fishing harbour. Saldanha Bay is open in all weathers although adverse weather can affect operations.
Saldanha Bay is a common user port and Port Control operates 24 hours a day. A full diving service is available for ship inspection and other services but ship repair is limited mainly to the fishing industry.

Saldanha Bay has yachting marina facilities and the safe bay lends itself to a variety of water sport. Sailing Races and regattas are hosted by Saldanha Yacht Club on a regular basis.


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