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Sailng on Windwanderer.
24th Nov 2015
Luderitz Diamonds and gems. 24/11/15

Luderitz Diamonds and gems.

24th November 2015

Well I know I promised a post about diamonds, so here goes.

Now all you history buffs out there please do not shoot me down in flames, this is my understanding of how it all went down in history of where most of the worlds diamonds come from, Africa.

With a bit of reading, research, even integration of some locals, I have a better understanding of these diamonds.

Like most people, well actually most girls, we don't really think of where they come from, we think of just going into the local jewellers and buying them, and I was one of them too.

Until I came to Africa and more so when we got to Luderitz, why? Well I guess it's just something different, and I so love different things, it also helps that we are dead smack in the middle of diamond territory.

We have diamond dredging boats all around us, they have the sorting factories on shore and we watch them come and go, constantly.

The story goes that most of the diamonds are found in and around the Orange River that runs down the Southern coast of Africa. The town of Kimberley, is the area where it all started, it's actually the biggest diamond area in the world.

Over many millions of years the area was eroded and the diamonds were washed into the Orange River.

We have found out that the Orange river has changed its course many times over these years and that's why you find diamonds in a few different places but the Orange river actually empties into the ocean off the Namibian coast right here near Luderitz.

Luderitz is an old German town and the German influence is still strong here. They found diamonds here way back in 1908. A worker on the new railway line presented a shiny stone to his supervisor who was clever enough to obtain a prospecting licence before having it officially verified and therefore started the diamond rush around the site of Kolmanskop  just outside of Luderitz, where it became a very upmarket diamond boom town.

In the early days the stones were so accessible that the prospectors with no mining equipment would crawl along in a nearby valley on their hands and knees in full moonlight collecting the sparkling diamonds.

(Oh man imagine doing that, I so should have been born back in that era)

In a few short years more than 5.4 million carats of very high-quality stones had been extracted from the region, something like 30,000 carats a day.

It did not take long for the Colonial government to step in and declare most of the area a forbidden zone, ( which it still is today) in order to control the mining of the diamonds and in 1909 a central diamond market was established.

There have been many smaller diamond companies through the years, now it's all just the one company called NAMDEB which is controlled by de Beers who of cause control the whole worlds diamond market.

Kolmanskop boom years ended in 1928' when diamond reserves six times the size of those in Kolmanskop ( although of lesser quality) where discovered at the mouth of the Orange river.

Most of the workers and equipment relocated to here and the town of Kolmanskop became a ghost town.

 They say it is something to visit, we have seen it from the road several times and it's still on our bucket list to see before we leave.

Also Agate beach is on the list too where you can still find these gemstones and others while walking along the beach, also they have desert roses, which I so want to find as well.

Heiko the guy who looked after our boat while we were gone used to own one of the diamond dredging boats and his son Stefan, who cleaned the bottom of our boat for us the other day works on one of the boats now.

So this was our chance to find out all about them and how they work and such. It just so happens that Stefan had found the day before a very big diamond just lying on the ocean floor, of cause he handed it in and is a bit of a celebrity at the moment. It's the biggest diamond found since ocean bed dredging started.

I hear you ask why not just keep it, well the stories run thick and fast on how over the years they have tried, but it's all very controlled, even if The Captain and myself have worked out many a ways to get them ashore, and I'm sure some do.

All the boats have 4 cameras on board, running 24 hours a day, they usually have about 4 divers on board they stay down normally no longer than a hour at a time, usually in about 22 meters of water, and it's freezing cold water at that.

They just take the long hoses down to the bottom and suck up everything, this goes into a sieve on the boat and then they bag the rest of the stuff.

The divers have to decompress over a period of ten minutes every 6 meters or so, I asked about sharks and marine life and they said yeah they have seen plenty, whales, seals and such, he said the seals are a real pain, and you never look directly at them, because once they catch your eye they are your friend for life and won't leave you alone and are always in your way..haha

Heiko related lots of shark stories, ranging from him seeing over seven meter great whites that just stop and stare at you then go on their merry way, to one of the divers, at the last 6 meter decompressing spot, opened his eyes and had a huge white pointer about a inch away from his face, they say he was out of the water and on deck, in a flash even though all hands on deck were trying to push him back in because they said he was not decompressed enough he was not having a bar of it...haha

They stay out for 22 days straight and when they come into the harbour it is still very controlled, they have to go to one specific area where they upload all the bags of gravel which hopefully has diamonds in it, as this is how they are paid, not by wage but by how many diamonds you find, you don't find any you don't get paid, it's that simple.

Then all their gear and themselves have to go through X-ray machines before coming ashore, hmm I still think they find a way somehow of smuggling a few in.

Heiko said they are so strict that if you get caught you will go to jail for twenty years but if you kill someone you only get about a ten year sentence and be out in around two, go figure.

So I hear you ask are there still diamonds around? You bet there are, Have we found any? Nope , Do we look for them? Yeap every time we go ashore, I always have one eye on the ground...haha you never know.

Heinz who worked on our engine, told us that a friend of his, picked up a huge one on his property one day in a mud puddle. So Yeap we do look.

And if you see us all of a sudden with a new fantastic yacht you will know why...haha

Oh and if you enjoy books there is a fantastic one written by Sidney Sheldon called Masters of the game and a sequel called Mistress of the game, all about a guy who started out by stealing diamonds off the Namibian coastline, I actually think it may have been made into a movie as well, there is one for you to find for us Miss Hollywood.

Well tomorrow is another day.



Next: Luderitz 29/11/15
Previous: Luderitz Tuesday 23/11/15


Diary Photos
24th Nov 2015  Diamond sorting factories.

24th Nov 2015  Diamond boat.
No Description

24th Nov 2015  Diamond boats.

24th Nov 2015  Diamond boat.

24th Nov 2015  Diamond boat.

24th Nov 2015  Diamond boat, can you see the hose behind it.

24th Nov 2015  NAMDEB.

24th Nov 2015  Kolmanskop

24th Nov 2015  Kolmanskop.

24th Nov 2015  Kolmanskop.

24th Nov 2015  Warning sign.

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