More than 40 years before the Danger Point lighthouse was built, the HMS Birkenhead struck an unmapped rock at sea near this part of the coast. More than 440 people aboard perished, but all the women and children were brought to safety. The story of what happened at 2am on 26 February 1852 has become one of the most poignant tales in a sailor’s chest of naval accounts.
It is believed that the remains of seven sunken ships lie on the rocks at the foot of the Danger Point lighthouse. But think on this: as you take a meandering day drive from Gansbaai across the Agulhas Plain and beyond to Cape Infanta, with stops at Bredasdorp, L’ Agulhas, Arniston, De Hoop and Port Beaufort, you’re passing the hidden wrecks of more than 140 unfortunate vessels that sank along here. It was also here that the ghost ship The Flying Dutchman was spotted for the first time.