Welcome to ‘ocean’ sailing in the night skies of the Karoo

It’s not often you sleep below deck in Oudtshoorn, lulled by lapping waves.

That’s because there aren’t many ocean-going yachts in the swimming pools of the Little Karoo.  In fact there’s only one, which you’ll find perched on a cliff at Mount Noah lodge.

First-time visitors will be excused for thinking they’ve smoked too much of the strong stuff when they visit this unusual resting place. Not only is there a unique swimming pool, with very little space left for swimming, but there’s a fleet of other vessels too, on the hard, offering  ‘maritime’ accommodation in a part of the world better known for drought and ostriches than rudders and masts (although the Karoo used to be an inland sea). The Lodge has spectacular views across Oudtshoorn and across to the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges.

But boating enthusiasts will be interested to know that the Lodge’s maritime theme was a fortunate coincidence, prompted by a chance breakdown. “The first yacht happened by chance,” explained the Lodge owners on their website. “Sagitta arrived on Mount Noah when her trailer broke down on a journey to Durban. Being the closest ‘safe harbour’ to the breakdown, she unknowingly found a permanent home. On this day Dr. Warrington, owner, saw the perfect irony in an ocean vessel joining the gorgeous landscapes of the Little Karoo, a pre-historic lake, as yacht accommodation. Mount Noah, a family-run Lodge was born.”

Sagitta’s unexpected resting place had an even more unexpected result; it drew more vessels to Mount Noah, notably a 22ft Laurent Giles design previously owned by an Australian sailor who had attempted a solo circumnavigation. His trip came to a halt at Richard’s Bay – allegedly something to do with the law – and his boat ‘Bekka’ became the centre-piece in the swimming pool ‘marina’. “On a solo trip around the world, Greg arrived on South African shores at Richards Bay, where his journey around the world was unexpectedly interrupted by the local law,” explains the Lodge website, leaving the rest of the story to our imagination. “He (Greg) subsequently left South Africa and Bekka. A piece of an adventurer’s history was moored there until her life at Mount Noah began.

“The history and the perfect encapsulation of a true round-the-world sailor’s life, was what brought Bekka to Mount Noah. She has her own centre-piece ‘marina’ here, where visitors can experience the story for themselves,” the website says.

The other vessels are “Juliano”, “Blew Pearl”, “Spartan”, “The Ark”, and “The Houseboat”, all transformed into on-land yacht accommodation. In addition, there’s a variety of “on land” accommodation ranging from basic to luxury rooms.

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