Southern Seas and the Southern Sun

I recently went to the beach in Struisbaai, South Africa in order to build a shadow stick solar compass for an article I wrote for the About.com Survival Skills website. Struisbaai, or Struis Bay, is only seven kilometers from Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet. If you’re only seven kilometers from such a place, then you have to go, right? So we did.

2-Cape Agulhas

It was evening when we arrived on the beach at Cape Agulhas, and the light was spectacular. We walked out on the boardwalk until we found the above monument that shows the separation of the seas at this geographic location.

To the east is the Indian Ocean:

3-Cape Agulhas Indian Ocean

And to the west is the Atlantic Ocean:

4-Cape Agulhas Atlantic Ocean

Cape Agulhas is technically the southernmost tip of Africa, but Cape Point, a few hours (by car) west of Cape Agulhas, also claims to be the location where the seas split. Cape Point is perhaps the more tourist-friendly location, as it’s closer to Cape Town, but we had fun exploring the beach at Cape Agulhas…

5-Cape Agulhas

…and the town itself, which contains only a few little shops and pubs. Nonetheless, a beach is a good place to build a shadow tip solar compass because when the sun is out, it shows up clearly on the sand. There usually isn’t much debris to clear from a beach, and a shadow stick will stand up easily in wet sand.

Want to know more about how a shadow tip solar compass works?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills website:
“Use a Shadow Stick to Determine Direction”

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

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