Gansbaai is a town rich of rich history, from early man to the time of the settlers, the area has a host of stories with one being more infamous than that of the HMS Birkenhead. On the 26th of February 1852, the HMS Birkenhead was travelling from Simon’s town, on it’s way up the east coast. This was an English ship travelling with a regiment of soldiers towards Algoa Bay to fight a war against the Xhosa people. At about 2 O’ Clock in the morning, the ship struck an uncharted rock just off Danger Point. The ship began to take in water, and we believe that for the first time in maritime history, it was ordered that all the men should stand back, and that the women and children should board the life rafts first. Hundreds of lives were lost that day, but all of the women and children were saved.
To honor these brave men, we set out every year on this day to the very rock where the ship still lays. This year, we set out a day early due to the rain predicted for today, and had a lovely time out at sea. After meeting for coffee and some scones at The Great White House, we set out from Kleinbaai harbour and made our way towards Danger Point. We could not have asked for better conditions, and soon found ourselves at the site of the wreck.
With all 4 boats in place, James Gray began the commemoration, speaking of the soldiers before the trumpet sounded. As the trumpet played, kelp wreaths were thrown into the water. These wreaths were made by our International Marine Volunteers, who from an integral part of the ceremony. Once the wreaths had been laid, we released two flares before sharing a moment of silence.
After a beautiful ceremony, we head back to shore, making our way back to The Great White House.