Once proud and mighty ships sailing the perilous seas, they are now reduced to wrecks half-buried in the Namib Desert. Survival was understandably the foremost thought of all souls aboard these stricken vessels. Often the terrible decision was whether to stay aboard and hope for rescue from a passing ship or defy the pounding surf and risk a raft, or swim ashore and face blistering sands, raw winds, a relentless sun or dank fogs.
Seaward, the south Atlantic offered little hope and landward lay a sea of sand, offering nothing but a waterless wasteland. Some survived; others died a lingering death on the legendary coast of skeletons.
What once became the grave of many a sailor, is a sanctuary for animals and also turned into one of Namibia’s most famous landmarks. While you can reach some of the shipwrecks by car, others can only be seen from a plane. Both Scenic Air and Skeleton Coast Safaris offer scenic flights which are ideal for a sky adventure. Learn about our most famous shipwrecks to decide which ones you would like to visit:
In 1907 the 2 200-ton German freighter Eduard Bohlen began her last voyage. Her bow struck sand 500 metres from shore, south of Conception Bay. Despite frantic attempts to prevent her beaching, chains and propellers were no match for the energy of the waves, which pushed the doomed ship shoreward.
She is now berthed 400 metres from the shoreline. Here
she plays host and centre stage to tourists taking the extraordinary sand safari between Walvis Bay and Lüderitz. Small aircraft drone overhead whilst their guests capture the surreal scene below on camera before flying on to relax at their desert destination. The Eduard Bohlen is Namibia’s most famous shipwreck.
At the end of 1942 the British steamer Dunedin
Star left Liverpool for Cape Town, carrying munitions and supplies for the Allied forces and more than a hundred crew and passengers. After hitting an underwater obstacle off the Skeleton Coast the captain managed to beach his ship 500 metres from the coastline. All the passengers were taken ashore. The shipwreck triggered the most dramatic rescue operation in the country’s history – by sea, air and land. More than three weeks later every passenger was safe, the only casualties being two rescue crew members. Part of the cargo was salvaged as well.
Even the most advanced electronic equipment sometimes is no match for wind and waves. The Suiderkus left Cape Town in 1976 on her maiden voyage to trawl Namibian waters. She ended up on the rocks at Möwe Bay, with a loss of N$3.6 million in the latest of navigational equipment and fittings.
Just south of Swakopmund the hake trawler Kolmanskop caused a spectacle in 2006 when she got lodged between rocks after being driven ashore by 50-knot gusts of wind that propelled her 20 km northward from her mooring in Walvis Bay Harbour.
The Zeila stranded in August 2008 at a popular fishing spot about 14 km south of Henties Bay. The Namibian fishing trawler had been sold as scrap metal to an Indian company and was to be towed to Mumbai. Just out of Walvis Bay the vessel came loose from its towing line and was swept north.
This content was originally published here.