Ship graveyard teems with fish

THUNDERBOLT Reef was named after the HMS Thunderbolt which was wrecked there in 1847. The HMS Thunderbolt was a wooden paddle sloop that found its watery grave off Cape Recife and many a vessel such as the Kapodistrias and the Patty have endured the same fate there.

It is said there is a gap in the reef that shortens the trip around the reef considerably, especially when the swells are on.

The boats would negotiate this gap as a way of hugging the coastline and taking advantage of calmer waters. Many captains got that wrong and are part of a number of wrecks that litter that stretch of coast.

This is a popular spearfishing destination with many caves and pinnacles. Thunderbolt Reef is one of the spots where the yellowtail abound when these fish are running.

Besides the yellowtail, Cape salmon and dorados are caught there too, along with the reef species. In the deeper waters off Thunderbolt, stockfish are also caught.

Being a deepwater species, stockfish angling is quite hard work. As a result, an angler usually puts a number of hooks on the line so more than one fish can be caught at a time.

The law allows for no more than 10 hooks per line.

All bait types work well here and an arsenal of bait variety is recommended.

Situated off the Cape Recife Lighthouse, Thunderbolt Reef is easily accessed from the harbour or the Noordhoek Skiboat Club.

Membership is required here to use those facilities.

As a junior schoolboy, I was fishing at Blue Hole when the Patty ran aground in very misty conditions. I can still hear the foghorn sounding repeatedly.

Years later while I was spearfishing in the Tony Dicks Spearfishing Competition, I dived off the superstructure still there today.

I had shot a musselcracker and attached it to my buoy. A short while later, I witnessed a large white shark lurking around and decided to board the boat that served the divers.

When I pulled in the buoy, only the head of the musselcracker remained! Visit YouTube Spearfishing South Africa – Great White Comes Too Close. A case of the hunter becomes the hunted.

Whale activity in the area is also quite prolific and caution should be taken not to venture too close to whales basking in the shallow waters off Thunderbolt. By law it is required that vessels remain beyond 300m from any whale activity.

Raggy Charters are the only authorised agents who may venture closer than 300m to view the whales.


They offer a truly unique experience.