Alexander Bay is way up the West Coast of the Northern Cape in South Africa, virtually on the Border with Namibia in a Region known simply as Little Namaqualand!
There is nothing more Northerly than this Seaside Town that lies on the mouth of the Mighty Orange River – the River that feeds the Gariep and Vanderkloof dam and forms not only the south-western boundary of the Free State but later also the international border between Namibia and the Northern Cape.
Alexander Bay has something of an illustrious History. It was in the thick of the ‘diamond rush’ that gripped this part of the Coast after diamonds were discovered here in 1925. Up until recently the Town was invisible to the intrepid traveler prepared to head this far north en Route to Namibia; closed to visitors and a high-risk Area because of the diamonds, bar those with a permit! Now, Alexander Bay organizes Historic diamond Tours and markets itself as the ‘Diamond Coast – forever Namaqualand’.
The wreck of the 'Piratiny' lay where the Sea met the Shore, her rusted and broken framework scattered among the rocks of the treacherous West Coast. Her severed and upturned bows leaned back towards the cold Atlantic Ocean as if she hoped to return to the waters upon which she once sailed. A heavy winch still clung to the deck, surrounded by enduring teak and Oregon Pine planking, while holes in the corroded hull revealed flaking ribs.
The Cove on the Coast, 7 km South of the Orange River mouth. The Area has the richest alluvial diamond deposits in the World. It was named after Sir James Edward Alexander, 1803-1885, who was a British officer and explorer. Who in 1836, also explored Namaquland and Damaraland as far as Walvis Bay, on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society (which he had co-founded) On his exploration, expanding into Namaqualand and Damaraland, lasting from 8 September 1836 to 21 September 1837. He collected rock specimens, pelts of rare animals, bird skins, weapons and implements from the Herero and Nama, as well as drawing maps of the region and making a list of Herero words ,for later used dialogue. Subsequently Arrowsmith, made use of his data to draw a map accompanying his book of the Expedition. In 1877, he was largely responsible for the preservation and transfer of Cleopatra's Needle to England. Cleopatra's Needle is the popular name for each of three Ancient Egyptian Obelisks re-erected in London, Paris, and New York City during the nineteenth century. The obelisks in London and New York are a pair, and the one in Paris is also part of a pair originally from a different site in Luxor, where its twin remains. Although all three needles are genuine Ancient Egyptian obelisks, their shared nickname is a misnomer, as they have no connection with the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and were already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The London and New York "needles" were originally made during the reign of 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Hatshepsut. The Paris "needle" dates to the reign of 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II and was the first to be moved and re-erected. The New York "needle," was the first to acquire the nickname, "L'aiguille de Cléopâtre" in French, where it stood in Alexandria.
New Dictionary of South African Place Names by Peter E. Raper.