My failed attempt to reach the wreck of the BOS 400
I have been wanting to try this for a while now, that is hike to and photograph what remains of the BOS 400, a French derrick barge that ran aground in 1994 after it’s tow rope broke in heavy seas. I got up at 5:00am and set off towards Sandy Bay beach in the darkness with a headlamp hoping to reach the Oudeschip Peninsula at dawn and then make my way around Maori Bay to the shipwreck at sunrise to make use of the best light for photographs. Things did not go according to plan however….
I made it to Oudeschip and across the bay I could now see the wreck of the BOS 400 but where I thought the path would continue around along the coast around the bay, it didn’t. I scrambled over the rocks thinking I could find my own way until the boulders turned into sheer rock faces and I could go no further without jumping into the ocean which wasn’t an option with my camera. So I took a break and sat down to watch as the sun rose and first light started to catch clouds drifting in off the ocean.
It was at this point that I probably should have turned back but I was determined so continuing on the original path that then turned and made its way up the ridge to an old dirt road that was put in when there were plans to develop Sandy Bay commercially before being stopped, thankfully. I was hoping there may be a path off to the side as I made my way up the ridge, and at one point it looked there was but ten metres along it just stopped. By the time I reached the road it was now already 8:00am, the sun had been up for an hour and I wasn’t really any closer.
I got up early to hike to a shipwreck but never made it however all was not lost thanks to this beautiful sunrise pic.twitter.com/CREcRB0gm5
— Rory Alexander (@Rory_Alexander) March 29, 2014
At the end of the road however was what looked like a path, could it be. I took a few steps along, and sure enough it looked like a path albeit a path less travelled. There was a part of me that was concerned it could be a route used by poachers or even a homeless person that may be living in the shelter of the numerous rocky overhangs along the contour path but just then I came face to face with a very large and well established golden orb web and the spider that had built it. Spiders are not my favourite creatures, in fact I am borderline arachnophobic. The bush was so thick there was no way to get around it and at this point I should probably have turned back.
The one comforting thing about the spider web was that I was pretty sure that no one had been along this path for several days if not weeks. Breaking off a stick from a dead branch I gingerly cut several strands of the web all the time keeping an eye on the spider, that moved unnervingly with every vibration, until i had enough space to crawl past and I was on my way again. There were several mudslides that had eroded the path away and in sections it was very overgrown. In the gulleys where the vegetation was the thickest I lost the path several times and if it hadn’t been for a cairn of rocks I would have had no choice but to turn around. Every now and again the path would open out and I could look back down to Oudeschip that the sun was just beginning to hit and could see the sheer rock faces that I would not have been able to get past.
It was slow going having to push past bush after bush and duck under tree branches not to mention my legs that now looked like had been used as a cat’s scratching post. As I continued there were several times when the path seemed to peter out and I wasn’t entirely sure which way to go. Determined to get there I would go scramble through and then follow the faintest of trails before joining what seemed like a path again. Once again the path opened out onto a large rock which was a relief from all the bundu bashing however there was no way down from this rock. There was about a 20 metre drop in front of me and impenetrable bush all around. A little further back it looked as if the path may have continued up but I was exhausted and tired of fighting my way through shrubbery, I was done. I resigned myself that this was as close as I was going to get to the BOS 400 shipwreck.
I took a couple of photos of the wreck from this vantage point. They weren’t the photos I was after and I hadn’t lugged a heavy zoom lens with me so I couldn’t get any close-ups either but they are better than no photographs at all.
Accepting defeat, there was nothing left to do but take a rest and enjoy my flask of tea before making the arduous hike back along the overgrown path.
Despite getting lost a few times myself all was not lost. I may not have reached the BOS 400 shipwreck or gotten the photos I wanted but I still had an adventure. On a beautiful autumn morning I was the first person to walk on the beach, I saw an incredible sunrise looking back towards Cape Town from the Oudeschip Peninsula and I got closer to the BOS 4o0 than I’ve ever been before. Don’t be afraid to take the path less travelled.