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Prevailing winds are westerly in winter (May - August) and easterly in summer (September - April), and rarely reach storm- or gale-force strength.The average days of sunshine are 320 days per year.The Afrikaans: (ATKV or Afrikaans Language and Cultural Society) bought the farm Hartenbos, east of what was then the town of Mossel Bay, in 1936, and developed it as a holiday resort (now known as the ATKV Hartenbos Resort, and considered the biggest self-catering resort in the Western Cape Province).This was a significant step in the development of the town’s tourism economy as it positioned Mossel Bay as a beach holiday destination - and beach tourism remains a major focus for incoming tourism in the 21st Century.From the earliest days of the Dutch settlers, Mossel Bay acted as the major port serving the Southern Cape region and its hinterland, the arid Klein (or Little) Karoo, and during the ostrich feather boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, more than 800,000 kg of feathers were exported through the port every year — which may have been the impetus that led to the construction of the first breakwater in 1912.Fishing and farming remained the main activities of the area during the early years of the 20th Century, and the growth of the port reflected this.
In 1501, another Portuguese navigator, Pedro d'Ataide, sought shelter in Mossel Bay after losing much of his fleet in a storm.
The discovery of natural gas fields offshore in 1969, of the FA gas field in the Bredasdorp Basin (also off the Southern Cape coast) in 1980, and of the nearby EM field in 1983, led to the development of the Mossgas gas-to-liquids refinery (commissioned in 1987 and renamed the Petro SA Refinery in 2002).
This changed the nature of the port so that its major business now comes from serving supply ships for Petro SA’s offshore platforms, and from export via its offshore single point (or single buoy) mooring, which is located in about 21 metres of water in an unsheltered roadstead at Voorbaai, in the lee of the St Blaize Peninsula.
Whatever the case, though, the mussels and oysters on the shore would have been a welcome addition to the limited diet on which ship’s crews were expected to survive in those days.
Although it is today best known as the place at which the first Europeans landed on South African soil (Bartolomeu Dias and his crew arrived on 3 February 1488), Mossel Bay’s human history can - as local archaeological deposits have revealed - be traced back more than 164,000 years.