Opening of the Shipwreck Display

The new shipwreck display in the so-called Anchor Garden at the entrance of Cape St Francis was opened at a small function by Kouga’s Mayor, Hattingh Bornman. He thanked FOSTER, the sponsors and the supportive local community for coming together and adding this important historical tourism feature to the region. 

The chairman of FOSTER, addressing the assembled guests and sponsors, explained why such a display, though not directly in FOSTERS’s normal scope of activities, was relevant and important.

He quoted FOSTERS Vision, which is “to conserve, maintain, protect, and provide access to the biodiversity of the FOSTER managed Reserves, whilst promoting active stewardship of the environment through educational and collaborative activities of our members, tourists, the public and our stakeholders. FOSTER’s primary role is to nurture (foster) and preserve the biodiversity in the Irma Booysen, Seal Point, Seal Bay, and Cape St Francis Nature Reserves. Its secondary role is to ensure that the reserves can be enjoyed by the greater community and visitors through the maintenance of the walking trails and cycle paths that do not damage the sensitive dunes and vegetation found in the reserves”. 

Opening of the Shipwreck Display

Saying that, the answer lies in there somewhere where we talk about promoting active stewardship and tourism. But more importantly, the site is at one of the main entrances to the FOSTER-managed Irma Booysen nature reserve. Thus, people who are encouraged through tourism to visit this display will immediately be drawn to the entrance board to the reserve. They may take a walk to see the splendour around us and, who knows, even become members of FOSTER or make a donation.

Long and Tortuous Road

Matt then said, “I am also delighted to be able to tell you that we are nearly at the end of a long and tortuous road as we have finally received a letter from the MEC of COGTA consenting to the declaration of the expansion to the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve. This means that we now have everything in place to finally proceed with the declaration of the municipal properties. The next step is to ensure that the ECPTA include the properties in their next round of public participation and declaration processes. A huge thank you for all the help we received from Wentzel Coetzer from Conservation Outcomes and the municipality’s support”.

He then added, “Practically these reserves will, when fully proclaimed, have the same protected status as the national parks such as the Kruger or Addo and that their status will remain preserved. A worthwhile cause fought by many current and past committee members for current and future generation”.

Opening of the Shipwreck Display

Talking about the shipwreck display, he explained that it was the brainchild and a dream come true for Dave Bowmer, FOSTERS’s quiet, unassuming reserve manager who manages the reserves with a small team with passion and dedication under the guidance of Professor Richard Cowling. This allows FOSTER being able to say that the reserves are not only some of the best maintained in the country but certainly some of the few that are virtually alien-free. 

The Shipwreck Museum

Dave is a self-taught expert on the flora and, of course, the shipwrecks in our area. Years ago, he started collecting artefacts and created a small museum, which is today housed in Jilly’s Homemade Ice Cream shop in the little shopping centre here in CSF.

The anchors refurbished here have been here for years, but now they mean something, and the greater St Francis has a new and important tourist attraction at the Opening of the Shipwreck Display.

 

Opening of the Shipwreck Display

Recalling how the idea came to fruition, Matt said. “Dave pitched the idea to me more than a year ago, and whilst my immediate reaction was ‘nice idea, but not a FOSTER issue. After some thought, I realised the potential and the enhancement it would bring to the area. We discussed it at the next committee meeting where we were given the green light, as long as this was a separate project with funds and sponsorships raised to cover the costs”.

Thumbs Up

The first port of call was Dane Shaw, the chairman of the Cape St Francis Civics, who immediately bought into the idea, promised some seed funding and convinced Stuart Obrey from Lighthouse Construction to build the display wall, etc. He, in turn, got Chris Milne to design the structure. Our councillor Lorraine Maree, a keen FOSTER supporter, gave her thumbs up.

FOSTER then sent a proposal to The St Francis Rotary Club, where local resident Errol Burman did a fine job of convincing the committee and Chairperson Lindsay Pearson that this was a project worth funding and supporting. Rotary, in turn, provided the bulk of the funding for this important historical display. Rotary were also thanked for their ongoing support of FOSTER and, in particular, for the financing of the much-needed repair of the trails damaged by the recent storms.

Opening of the Shipwreck Display

Dave also had a team of volunteers that helped and gave freely of their time: Zeppy Esbach, Craig Briggs and others. Just Property sponsored much-needed waters on the day as well.

Dave Bowmer then explained the background to his interest in shipwrecks along our coast at the Opening of the Shipwreck Display, what the various displays were, and from what ships they came. He emphasised that the display was designed so you did not need a guide. Still, by looking at the large map, central to the display, of the coast and where the ships sank, one could not only see what ships were lost where and what artefacts came from which ships and what they were. The latest additions were some rubber bales from the 2nd World War ship, the Helmspey, which was torpedoed off our coast in 1943.

Cape St Francis Street Names

He also reminded the audience that many of the street names in Cape St Francis are named after wrecked ships, including the Hope Crescent, Grosvenor Road, and Osprey, to name a few. He encouraged people to come and see this for themselves and identify some streets named after shipwrecks. Finally, he added that there was one plane included on the map which crashed near East London, namely the Rietbock in 1967.

Locals and visitors are encouraged to visit the display and enjoy the beauty of the FOSTER reserves around Cape St Francis and St Francis. To find out more or become a member, go to foster.org.za.

 

Opening of the Shipwreck Display

Previously: FOSTER Update – The Anchor Garden and Shipwreck Display