“Then and now” in the Greater St Francis Region – #3

Immediately south of the Cape St Francis  lighthouse in the spring of 2003. Note the abundance of species: pink fluffy beach indigos, yellow beach buttons, white needle everlastings and grey shrubs of dune chafflower in the background. Photo: Richard Cowling.

The same view, earlier this year (2020). The species-rich and endangered coastal fynbos has been overwhelmed by bietou, a likely response to the increase in trampling by humans over the past 17 years. Bietou, which is indigenous to the Cape coast, is highly invasive along the coast of south-eastern Australia where it overtops the indigenous vegetation. Researchers there have shown that bietou produces chemicals that suppress other species. Should FOSTER start be controlling bietou in certain areas of the reserves? Photo: Timm Hoffman and Richard Cowling

A way of lessening thatch roof fires spreading?

Eight years ago last Thursday (12th) I was kicking back with a cold beer in Durban when I received a call from my brother. He was at OR Tambo International about to board a flight to France when he received a call from in St Francis Bay that there was a huge fire on the canals that had started literally around the corner from his house. As he had already cleared immigration there was not much he could do and unable to reach friends at ground zero he gave me a call asking if I would be able to assist by travelling down to SFB if necessary. As it turned out it was unnecessary for his house was unscathed despite houses across the road and less than a hundred metres away were raised to the ground. 

Switching on the TV and watching what unfolded was somewhat reminiscent of watching 911 all those years earlier. Mindblowing.

While many homeowners have converted to alternative roofing my brother still has a thatch roof as do others in the village and on the canals so possibly he and other home owners with thatch may find this article posted by Trevor Wright on FB last week interesting and worth investigating.

Photo – Martin Barbour © 2012


Does a thatch roof drenching system available on a cost of materials and rental basis appeal to you? If youre on the Canals, or if you have a borehole or wellpoint and a pump and water tank, you already have most of the components for my system.

There is no code for roof drenching systems. Insurers have their own unique requirements for these systems, some reasonable, some not. My system complies with most insurers requirements, and where we don’t comply, we attempt to do so.

Being paid out for losing your home and possessions is one thing. Preventing the loss and anguish is another.

Leaving aside insurance issues, a drenching system shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. With the guidance of a local professional engineer, I have developed, installed and tested a system that works in St Francis Bay conditions, which is as reliable as your garden irrigation system. It’s not a fancy system, it has no bells and whistles. It is simple and effective, even in the howling summer winds and high temperatures.

Is there a fire upwind of you or nearby? Opening one valve activates the system and within minutes your thatch is wet. Windblown embers landing on the thatch, the cause of most of the recent home losses, have no effect. When the threat has passed, close the valve. It’s as easy as that. If you live away, we place signage to direct the Fire Department or the Disaster Volunteer Group members to the activation valve.

My system is based on the principles of the Wind Enabled Ember Dousing System (WEEDS) used in America to protect homes for wildfires. It is a fire prevention risk reduction system from external sources. Wet thatch doesn’t burn easily.

I’m available to discuss the system with you.

Trevor. 0765890014.  –  St Francis Bay.

Fire prohibition period announced throughout Kouga

No fires allowed in Kouga

No controlled burns will be permitted in the Kouga region over the next four months.

Just In –

The South African Weather Service has issued a warning of the likelihood of veld fires due to the currently favorable weather conditions.
Residents are urged to mitigate any possibilities of veld fires by ensuring that all fires are properly extinguished before leaving. Disposing cigarette buds responsibly. Avoiding setting fires & ensuring that children don’t play with matches.
Kouga Community Services Portfolio Councillor, Daniel Benson, said the annual fire prohibition period for the region started on 1 November and would continue until 28 February 2021.
“Summer, with its high temperatures and strong winds, is the time when there is the highest risk in our region of runaway fires destroying properties and lives,” he said.
“As part of our efforts to keep Kouga safe, no controlled burns will be allowed during this period while residents are urged to be extra careful when it comes to setting anything alight, be it candles or braais.”
He said bonfires and any activities that required walking around with open flames were strongly discouraged.
“This includes walking around with candles and lanterns, as well as burning tyres or discharging fire crackers or other flammable paraphernalia,” he said.
“Open fires are also not allowed at public areas unless in designated braai stands.”
He said fire transgressions, including the illegal trade or discharge of fireworks, could be reported to the Kouga Call Centre at 042 200 2200 or after-hours to 042 291 0250.
For any fire emergency contact the all-hours number 042 291 0250.
Fire warning
What to do in case of fire

Entries Pouring In For Monster Combo Online Surf Contest

Matt Bromley

Matt Bromley is one of the surfers who will be entering the Monster Combo © Monster Media

It has been a busy month for the Monster Combo headquarters, with entries pouring in as the winter season counts down. With R20k in cash and a free 10-day Zigzag editorial trip for the winner, the surfers are excited and hunting down their best combo clips of the year.

Right now it seems that the surfers on the Garden Route are the most committed, with the majority of clips coming from there. A good number of videos are from JBay and surrounds. All the usual suspects like Dylan Lightfoot, Dale Staples and Stevey Sawyer have been lining up the perfect walls of Supertubes for some insane combination video entries. 

Stevey Sawyer – J Bay

Stevey Sawyer – J Bay


Dale Staples – JBay

Forrest Hare has dropped a few clips from Vic Bay, and Mitch Du Preez has an entry from Nahoon, adding to the mix. It’s not only about JBay, and these entries are red-hot and could easily find themselves in the winner’s circle. 
Forrest Hare Vic Bay

Forrest Hare Vic Bay

Up in Durban, Chad Du Toit is once again hard at work, along with Josh Redman, and they both have some exciting entries into the competition.
s we enter the countdown for Round Two, watch the press for details on when the public vote opens, and throw in your vote for the best combo. 

The prizes are a big deal. 

First prizes consist of:

The Surfer –  R20 000 cash + a 10 day FREE international Zigzag editorial trip in 2021 with Matt Bromley, the Monster team and the Zag crew.

The Videographer – R10 000 cash money!

The monthly prizes consist of:

An R2000 Pollywog gift voucher, a case of Monster Energy and an entry into the final for the GRAND PRIZE!

The Videographer –

R2000 cash, a case of Monster Energy and entry into the final for the Videography Grand Prize.

The Local Hero –  A brand new Billabong wetsuit, a custom Channel Islands surfboard and a case of Monster Energy!

Monster Prizes

Are we alone? – Unusual celestial phenomenon off the wild side in Cape St Francis.

Reader and regular contributor to St Francis Today, Stephen Praetorious submitted this rather interesting article on an experience he and a friend  witnessed on Wednesday night.

Write Stephen Praetorious ….

I think most of us at some point in our lives have asked the question, “Are we alone?”. Human kind has been fascinated by space, celestial bodies and ‘other forms of intelligence’ since the dawn of time. Technology has advanced so much that we can even pop out of our atmosphere and look down on Mother earth. Telescopes can see further than ever before and satellites can travel immense distances. Yet we still truly have no clue about where it all ends and what is truly out there. Words like ‘infinity’ and ‘black hole’ bear testament that. What of so many highly unusual structures that we find on our planet? Structures built with precisely cut perfectly symmetrical stone weighing tens of tonnes. Architectural alignments to the galaxy that boggle the mind. Could the earth walkers of that time really have created those structures and if so, were they human? I wonder what you believe? Have you ever had an experience that leaves you utterly gob smacked?

On Wednesday 4 November at approximately 9pm a friend and myself spotted a very unusual celestial phenomenon off the wild side in Cape St Francis. Strangely enough both of us share memories of a previous sightings tattooed in our consciousness to this day. Allow me to describe what we saw …. maybe some of you also spotted it?

The “entry” looked like a shooting star. It was about 45 degrees off the horizon in the south just above and to the left of the southern cross. As the trail of the ‘star’ dissipated however, a bright white light remained at it’s forefront. It then proceed to jump. Up down, to the right at an angle then up again as if finding its bearings. This took several seconds. Then it started making a slow trajectory in an east/north easterly direction. At one stage it felt like it was directly above us. We even wondered if it was a drone. Suddenly I became overcome with a feeling that we were being observed. A sensation that was hard to describe but fear was part of it. Maybe I wasn’t completely prepared for being ’beamed up’! Jokes aside though, the behaviour of this object in the sky did not match what one see when observing the trajectory of a satellite. The way it jumped around at the beginning was just crazy.

Whether or not there may be some form of logical explanation or whether you think myself and my friend have gone completely doolally may well be at play in your head. Nonetheless, I know what we saw. It was seriously “out there”. Did anybody else see it? The whole experience lasted well over a minute.

In closing, as I write I realise how acutely aware I have become of my senses and surroundings. The hum of the fridge, the twitter of a bird outside, the smell of the rain, the stillness …. and very very faint unfamiliar sensation in my chest and behind my ears