Namesake Cape? Almost — Cape Maclear, South Africa

When I saw Cape Maclear on one map of the Cape of Good Hope and Maclear Beach on another I knew I had to go there. You can hike to the cape and beach from the Cape of Good Hope itself.  We didn’t because of time (our ship docked 4 hours late) and because one of the websites for the area says it is best approached at the spring low tides.  Since we were just off of a full moon and it was high tide I chose to look at it from Cape Point where the lighthouse is.

Cape Maclear is a small bluff almost at southernmost point of the Cape of Good Hope Peninsula just to the west of the cape itself. The beach is adjacent to it and has pounding surf.   It was named after the Astronomer Royal for the Cape of Good Hope, Sir Thomas Maclear, possibly a shirt tail relative.  Maclear was born in what is now Northern Ireland.  His main job was to take geodesic measurements to determine the curvature of the earth, and his work helped determine that the earth was not a perfect sphere but the curvature of the earth was less in the southern latitudes than in the northern ones.  He became a close friend of David Livingstone, who named another cape after him on Lake Malawi.

Some historians believe it is likely the place that Bartholomew Biaz erected his marker on June 6, 1488.

Our taxi driver had a different theory about the origin of the name.  He said a girl swimming there was swept away by the wild surf.   It is known as a good fishing and diving spot and for beach combing at very low tides.

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