When I first moved to South Africa in 2009 I chose Cape Town for the ocean. I’ve always loved sailing and the water. But I found it more a mountain city that happened to have a port than a port city graced by a mountain. Everybody hiked. Few sailed.
Only faintly visible in the haze of the day, it was at night that I felt the presence of the ships more than the mountains. At night, their lights shone out of the dark water like a handful of stars.
Often I watched them and wondered who was aboard and what their lives were like. I imagined them as romantic floating islands, populated by sea-lovers with a life calling to roam the oceans.
In time, I moved north to Johannesburg. But four years later I returned to Cape Town to investigate the worlds of the sailors aboard, in particular, the fishing trawlers that anchor at Cape Town harbour. I found something so much less romantic. The ships I imagined as peaceful can in fact be volatile cauldrons brewing despair, anger, even violence. Read more ...