7/31/2011

The Phoenix - The Shipwreck Near Durban


 We climbed down to the windswept beach, where the waves were crashing onto the rocks, to see if we could see the ill-fated Phoenix.

After picking me up at King Shaka International Airport, Jane took a detour to see the ship that had run aground in Salt Rock, near Durban. The 164 meter long bulk freighter, the Phoenix, was on its way to India to be scrapped, but had to drop anchor off the coast, in Christmas Bay, to weather out a storm. A cold front had arrived bringing 30 knot winds, rough seas and a 15 foot deep-sea storm swell.

Unfortunately, the anchor line broke and the Phoenix drifted towards the shore, where it ran aground. The skeleton crew of 15 were airlifted to safety by helicopters, and the ship left to the mercy of the Indian Ocean. At first, it was decided to try to use a tug to drag the ship into deep water, but it now seems as if the ship will be scrapped where it is, as a salvage company has already been brought in to oversee operations.


We could see the ship in the distance, through the sea-mist 
caused by the spray. Unfortunately the path was too rocky and slippery 
to reach the ship this way.

As you can imagine, this ship has been a great attraction and hoards of people are trying to get down to the beach to see what's happening. The police have set up a road block to prevent cars blocking access to emergency vehicles, so we had to leave the car up on the bluff. We walked down the nearest path to the beach, but the sea was very rough and the path to the ship was very rocky and slippery. We then climbed back up again and took another road, which took us nearer to the ship. It was an amazing sight, especially when a helicopter came to deliver supplies for the salvage crew.


We managed to get closer to the ship by taking a different route.


 A helicopter appeared, carrying gear for the salvage crew.


It hovered over the ship as it tried to land its cargo.


The load was delivered safely before the helicopter flew away. Later, 
we heard that this was one of ten runs made by the helicopter.

Although I was extremely tired after having flown from Istanbul to Jo'burg, and then straight on from Jo'burg to Durban, it was well worth the effort just to see this extraordinary sight. But, unlike the mythological Phoenix, this one will never rise again.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a Capetonian who's visiting Salt Rock next month. I also run South Africa Travel Online and have been researching the town for our visit. As part of my research I stumbled across your blog! Thanks very much for your post and recording this event, it's interesting to know the history of the place. I'm setting up a page on Salt Rock, and have linked to your post from there. Thanks for sharing this info. Rob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for linking me! I was just lucky to be there at the right time!

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