The Waterfront Marina
The Marina Basin with its beautiful sail and powered pleasure craft is literally the V&A Waterfront’s “ground zero” – it started life as the quarry from which thousands of tons of rock were blasted and hacked for building the original breakwater and the Alfred and Victoria Basins. When its work was done, the quarry spent a century or so as the site of a labour compound, space for workshops and, from 1914 onwards, as an unsightly tank farm for oil storage.
This eyesore vanished in the early 1990s when the V&A Waterfront began turning it into the present-day Marina. It was a massive project in its own right. The company spent more than R4 million on having oil-industry specialists carry out a very comprehensive cleansing the soil of almost a century’s worth of contamination, then had to fill in the 19-metre-deep bottom to bring it up to the same depth as the Alfred Basin. By 1995 this had been done, and during the Royal Visit of that year Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, ceremonially detonated the explosive charges that let in the waters of the Alfred Basin.
It took two weeks for the huge new basin to fill. Then months of further construction followed. A blue bascule bridge (one whose roadway opens up from either side) was built over the gap to allow passage to the yachts with their tall masts. By November 1996 the work was complete, and Cape Town had gained an asset for its ocean-going visitors from near and far that it had never had before in its long life as the “Tavern of the Seas”.
By way of a lock, small boats from the marina can access the Rogge Bay Canal, which runs across the Foreshore to the International Convention Centre but is 3.5 metres above mean sea-level. Sea-water is pumped into the canal to create a natural flow, and after three days returns to the basin.
Two of Cape Town’s famous hotels – the internationally acclaimed Cape Grace and the glittering One & Only – enjoy spectacular views of the Marina and its surroundings, as do the V&A Waterfront’s 515 privately owned residential apartments, which were built between 2000 and 2009.