Horses coming Ashore
Swakopmund had no natural harbour,
so the ships had to anchor about one
kilometre from the shoreline. Cargo was off- loaded onto
rafts or special surf boats designed to negotiate the heavy seas. The Kroo tribesmen
had used a similar method on the Liberian coast for many years, and
teams of these skilled boatmen were brought in under contract to
Swakopmund to ‘work the surf.’ At the height of activity the Woermann
Line employed nearly 600 of these men.
Deutsches Afrika Line
The general movements of all
settlers within the colony was known. Native workers employed within
the Swakopmund Magisterial District were issued with a numbered
stamped brass identity token which had to be carried at all times.
These tokens are now collector items.
Rafts were built onto
which livestock, horses, or heavy cargo could be loaded and then towed
to the shoreline. This
method of off loading was found effective and continued even after the
jetty had been constructed. Between 1904 and 1906, 11,065 horses were
landed this way, and by the outbreak of the Great War 31,000 horses and
34,000 mules had been moved through the port of Swakopmund.
The need for more suitable method of off-loading ships
at Swakopmundwas cause for
much discussion. Some favoured the construction of a jetty while
traditionalists contended that a harbour should be built
at Swakopmund, and in 1898
FW Ortloff, an architect by appointment of the Government, landed at
Swakopmund to oversee the construction of an artificial harbour basin.
A suitable stone deposit for quarrying was found nearby, and a small
rail line along which to move the loads, and a water pipe had to be
constructed before the massive concrete blocks could be made. These
weighed in at over three hundred kilograms each.
September 1899 the first of these blocks was laid at the site where
the Mole was to be constructed. A point near to
where Kurt von Francois had previously placed his beacons near the
high dune at Swakopmund. The concrete and stone pier
was to extended 375 m into the sea and the cross leg at the
end of the pier was 35 m in length, and the project cost over 2.5
million Reich's Marks.
Inauguration day 1903
Surf-boats of settlers
Prince Leopold of Bavaria
The old Lighthouse and Customs Shed
from the Mole
The Swakopmund Mole Harbour was officially opened by Governor
Friedrich von Lindequist on 12 Feb 1903 and was the cause for great
celebrations. A set of rail tracks on
which ran three steam cranes ran the length of the Mole. Tugs would tow the rafts into the safety of the
basin where protected from the high surf the loads could be lifted by
crane to safety.
A lesson from the sea was awaiting.
The south to north
drifting of the Benguela current caused major silting along the south
side of the breakwater and then extended out to sea. A sandbank formed
and the entrance into the basin began to silt up and by July 1904 the
tugs and rafts could only enter the harbour at high tide.
uprising of January 1904 helped to exacerbate the problem, for the extra
military supplies that were needed increased shipping to where at
times up to twenty vessels would be laid at anchor in the
Swakopmund 'roadway' awaiting
offloading. The port authorities were working 24/7
in an attempt to alleviate the situation and the available dredging
equipment proved to be inadequate. It was decided that a landing jetty
should be built on the South side of the Mole. Within a year landing service at
the Mole were suspended in favour of the newly built wooden jetty.
The Mole light beacon
Sailors coming ashore
Silting of the Mole
Barge beached at the Mole and Harbour
Today, The Mole with
its sheltered beach, surrounding parks, palmed walk ways, hotels,
shops, restaurants, swimming pool and museum is one of
the focal points and attractions of