Winter in Plett blew up a couple of gales and thundering breakers but on the whole blessed us with wonderful weather for all those who visited us in the secret season. Spring has now here with whales in the bay aplenty. This all serves to remind us that the real summer season is only months away.
However, climate change is a reality in Plettenberg Bay. The winds of climate change have produced unusually fierce storms and floods which washed away the Lookout Beach in 2007. Owing to climate change the storms are getting worse and inflicting more damage. In the past year and a half Plettenberg Bay has had two severe storms which, because of their magnitude would normally occur only once in 50 years.
In June gale-force winds and raging waves wreaked havoc in Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas. Hikers were evacuated from the Otter Trail and families from the Nature’s Valley Caravan park, where several cars, possibly belonging to the hikers on the Otter Trail, were swept out to sea, alarms blaring – fortunately once the tide receded, the cars came to rest on hard ground.
Conservation officer of the Wildlife and Environmental Society (WESSA) Morgan Griffiths states that coastal development must make allowances for climate change and the rise in sea levels. He says that over the next 50 years the sea level is set to rise by possibly more than half a metre and with a storm surge on top of that or unusually high spring tides, giant waves could cause large scale destruction.
Another result of climate change is that if wind velocities pick up by only ten percent then wave heights increase by 26% and the transport of coastal sediment rises by 40% to 100%, thus setting coastal dunes on the march.. Clearly municipalities must take proactive action to minimize the destructive effects of
climate change in the future.
Plett Airport Progress
A recommendation that the airport be leased to the lessee for R1 a year for 49 years has been rejected. Instead the town’s leaders want to negotiate a lease with the successful tender bidder. The municipality’s corporate services department who made the recommendation pointed out that such an arrangement would allow the lessee to develop the airport to the required state which would cost 50 million rand.. More importantly the lease term would ensure that financial institutions will lend capital to the lessee and finally would be fully justified by the benefit to the town.
The specifications include developing the airport to the requirements necessary for scheduled commercial flights set by the Civil Aviation authority. These flights would operate twice a week on a Johannesburg – Plettenberg Bay – Cape Town route.
However the ANC chief whip told councillors that they should not tie themselves down to such an arrangement and the council agreed to a negotiated lease.
Cape's Castle coast under siege
When Pezula tycoon Keith Stewart took his Noetzie castle, voted the world’s best property in November last year, off the market, many saw this as a worrying sign of the times. Lifestyle and golf estates reported a significant slowdown in sales. Both Pezula and Simola in Knysna , two of the most celebrated resorts, confirmed that they had stalled the final phase of residential development. Garden Route estate agents are predicting at least a 50% drop in top-end residential prices since their peak three years ago. Simola’s chief executive, Avril Kaschula says that after the frenzy in the property market, it has just corrected itself in the same way as the stock markets did.
Stewart said that the downturn would ultimately help weed out some of the borderline estates, less able to weather the economic storm. In the meantime he urges the public to make the most of his “castle” available for letting at R80 000 a night! Any takers?
Or maybe you would like to go to Stanley Island
Stanley Island is the only privately owned island in South Africa. and is situated in the spectacularly beautiful Keurbooms lagoon near Plettenberg Bay. It has indigenous forest, wonderful bird life and long stretches of sandy beaches which are totally private. Access to the island and its four star accommodation is by aeroplane (there is a 1000m grass runway) or on the island’s own ferry. Worth a visit when next you visit Plett..
And now a story about a misunderstood 'Good Samaritan'
A Knysna baker, Mike Evans, who regularly distributes bread to the needy in the Bossiegif informal settlement in Plettenberg Bay said traffic officials told him his donations were illegal. He said he gave sealed day-old bread from his bakery to Bossiegif residents, as well as to soup kitchens in the vicinity. “When you see the kids who haven’t eaten for two days and even starving animals, you want to cry!”
Mike was given a verbal warning that if ever it happened again, he would be given a R500 fine and was threatened with being locked up. “For what,” he asked ,”for giving stuff away to the poor?” Bitou officials did not respond to media inquiries. However, a further development is that Dave Allen, a Port Elizaberth businessman and humanitarian has offered to pay if Mike is fined by the traffic police. He said the gesture was to draw attention to “this ridiculous situation where someone is being penalized for helping people who really need help. Where is the Ubuntu our leaders keep talking about and calling for?”
The Wedge Classic bodyboard event took place in the sleepy coastal town of Plettenberg Bay from 6 – 10 July and drew top bodyboarders from around the country. The Wedge is a jewel in the crown of bodyboard events and this year was no exception. Spectators saw some of the best bodyboarders going head to head and also saw a select group of riders perform aerial assaults during the Expression session. of the event. In this session the riders were towed toward oncoming waves behind a jetski in order to execute spectacular aerial manoeuvres. Among those competing was Darren Halse, who until recently had been living abroad and last year’s winner of the “King of the Wedge” Vaughn Harris as well as local lad Ryan Tucker.
Hullabaloo about the zoo
Olsen, the owner of Jukani Predator Park in Mossel Bay, who wants to move his park to The Crags outside Plettenberg Bay, says the Bitou council is politicizing his application. The land in question belongs to the Anglican Church. It was recommended that the application be rejected because Olsen had not submitted environmental or social impact assessments on the introduction of predators to the area. Mvimbi, the mayor, said that the application had caused controversy and divided the nearby community in Kurland, some of whom hoped for job creation whilst others were concerned about predators adjacent to their settlement.
Mr Olsen said that he had not yet received an acknowledgement of receipt of his application submitted last September, let alone any official request for any requirements.
The forest between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay seems an unlikely location for a laboratory where personal care products and treatment for incurable diseases are researched and produced but that is where Capetonians Stuart and Lettie Thomson have set up the Gaia Research Institution. Named after the earth goddess of Greek mythology, Gaia has grown from selling skin products at weekend markets to a company that distributes 58 products nationally and internationally.
Stuart and Lettie left Cape Town in 1984. Four years later they started trading their herbs, vitamins and minerals at local markets. Gaia’s website states that people should live as “close to the original blueprint” of life in the Garden of Eden.
“The buzzing of the bees…” could soon be something of the past if the outbreak of American Foulbrood disease is not contained. Anxious bee farmers in the southern Cape have pushed for a government policy to deal with the outbreak of the disease which has contaminated hives across the province. Agriculture inspectors have started visiting farms in the southern Cape and government inspectors took samples from hives in Plettenberg Bay in May.
Bee farmers are waiting for the Minister of Agriculture to publish regulations to control the disease but in the meantime they have decided to go ahead with testing and inspecting the hives. Over 200 hives have already been destroyed near Cape Town after testing positive. Bees are major pollinators and an epidemic could devastate the fruit and vegetable seed industry in the country.
Finally, in June a memorial service was held in Plettenberg Bay for the renowned PACT ballerina Catherine Butnett. Friends and family from across the country and around the world gathered to honour one of South Africa’s greatest and most beloved ballerinas, who died aged 48 on June 17, after a long battle with cancer. Born in Pretoria in 1961 Burnett emerged during the 1980s as an exceptional dancer whose performances in a wide ranging repertoire came to be admired for the luminous aura that is the hallmark of the dancer who truly deserves the title of ballerina. Catherine Burnett retired at the pinnacle of her career in 1991 and is survived by her daughters Victoria and Emma, two brothers and two sisters.
From the Accommodation Bureau Team