The Crux of the Matter

It’s not surprising that Waterfront Charters have chosen to name their sturdy trawler-based vessel the Southern Cross after the iconic constellation.

The Southern Cross. Probably one of the best known and loved constellations in the skies, as superb musician Stephen Stills – a born and raised northerner – acknowledges in his classic song. But the Southern Cross we see on clear nights is so much more than five stars and two pointers; in the small constellation known as Crux (the smallest of 88, actually), there are no less than 49 stars at apparent magnitude 6.5, or more understandable to non-navigators, the approximate limit of stars observed by a naked eye observer under very good conditions. But that’s not all…a time exposure of the Southern Cross shows countless millions of stars and galaxies that lie in that small quadrant. Our universe is nothing if not mind-bogglingly big.

Closer (relatively) to earth, within the constellation, is the Coalsack Nebula, the most prominent dark nebula in the skies, easily visible to the naked eye as a prominent dark patch in the southern Milky Way. Nearby is the exquisitely named Jewel Box cluster, a cluster of stars some 600 light-years from Earth, and at seven million years old, the youngest group of new stars in our heavens. To us it looks like a fuzzy star, but looked at through a telescope, a hundred stars form a sparkling A shape; a jewel box indeed.

For centuries the Southern Cross was used as an indication of where the South Pole lay: the method is quite simple. Take a line from the top star (Gacrux) through the bottom star (Acrux) and extend it. Then find the two obvious pointer stars to the south of the cross, bisect them at right angles with another line. Where the lines intersect over the horizon is - as near makes no difference at sea in a wooden sailing vessel – south. The next time you are lost in the wilderness, give it a try: it works.

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way.
Cause the truth you might be running from is so small,
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day…

Southern Cross; Crosby Stills and Nash

It’s not surprising that Waterfront Charters have chosen to name their sturdy trawler-based vessel the Southern Cross after the iconic constellation. As reliable and trustworthy as its stellar namesake, our Southern Cross has been offering harbour tours and coastal cruises to thousands of happy guests over her years of seamless service, and she has become a legend in her own right. A double-decked single-hulled boat, the Southern Cross is perfect as a viewing platform. For sunny days or star-filled experiences, take the upper deck. For shelter from hot rays or the occasional welcome shower, the lower deck is perfect, with seating for the weary and a handy bar for the thirsty. Half hour and full hour harbour trips are the ideal way to see the V&A Waterfront from a seal’s perspective, and talking of seals – they are well worth the visit too, as they lounge around or play in the harbour waters.

The coastal cruises are gentle excursions out the harbour along the Cape Coastline to Granger Bay, with stunning views of Table Mountain and her Apostles, Cape Town, and the vibrant coastal suburbs. Among Waterfront Charters most popular trips, both the Harbour Cruises and Coastal Cruise are not to be missed by visitors and locals alike.

When you see our Southern Cross for the first time, you’ll definitely understand why you came this way…

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