Then & Now: Durban Yacht Mole

By Frank Chemaly Time of article published May 9, 2020

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Durban - The picture of old Durban this week shows the Yacht Mole, probably in the 1970s, and was taken from the site, “Durban Then and Now”. The Riviera Hotel can clearly be seen in the background.

Durban has a long history of yachting in the area, stretching back to 1858.

In that year, the city’s first regatta was planned for Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24, 1858, but because there was not enough water it was postponed to the 28th. The course was to the Point and back to the judge’s boat opposite the bath house. A great number of spectators gathered on the shores to watch the race and about 40 yachtsmen participated.

The Yacht Mole in the 1970s

Later in the year the Durban Regatta Club was formed, and in September a general meeting was held at which rules and regulations were drawn up.

In 1863 the club was renamed The Natal Yacht Club. The “Royal” title was granted in February 1891.

The Royal Natal Yacht Club (RNYC) had a uniform, and during the race for the Ross Challenge Cup, not all those taking part were wearing their uniforms and were censured. Residents at the Point did not want to wear uniform for pleasure.

Furthermore, the RNYC jetty opposite Field Street was some distance from the Point, which was then a separate village at a distance covered by foot or on horseback. It was more convenient to have a club, with all facilities near at


In 1892 a group of yachtsmen formed the Point Yacht Club. At first, club meetings were held in the Seamen’s Institute - a temporary measure until a club house could be built. After a series of moves around various parts of the harbour, each time being “evicted” for harbour developments, the government offered a site in 1921 back on the landing jetty close to the RNYC judge’s box. With this move the Durban Yacht Club merged with the Point Yacht Club (PYC).

The Yacht Mole today. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad (ANA)

In July 1922, the railway line linking the Point with Congella led to the new club house being built on reclaimed land.

In February 1934, the harbour authorities gave the Durban Corporation an acre of reclaimed land to be used solely for yachting and boating under the joint control of the RNYC and the PYC.

Twin embankments were started in 1947 to form the sides of the Silburn Mole for the new yacht harbour. It was completed in 1950 and yachtsmen could enjoy improved facilities and safer moorings.

In September 1983, a floating walk-on jetty at the bay club house was built, accommodating 66 craft.

In the picture taken this week, photographer Shelley Kjonstad shows little has changed in the intervening decades, apart from the much-advanced yacht design.

The Independent on Saturday

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