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Huelva

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

1st November, 2017

After a high speed run down the Portuguese and Spanish coasts we made an Easterly approach to the pilot station just as another beautiful sunrise was developing. This was my first call at Huelva so I was on the Bridge extra early and was immediately “greeted” with what appeared to be the entire Spanish fishing fleet, no doubt heading out for the morning catch. Fortunately the boats were well lit and the vast majority had AIS which stands for Automatic Identification System – this is a great Navigational aid and assists greatly with identifying ships/boats along with their course and speed.

Our 2nd Officer Hugo was again holding the “con” and after slowing down to embark the pilot he headed for the buoyed Odiel river. Once the Master/Pilot exchange was completed Hugo handed the con to the pilot and he then guided us up river towards our berth. With a 2 knot flood tide running and limited turning room, 1 tug was ordered to assist with the manoeuver. We actually used the tug to slow us down whilst keeping one engine running ahead ensuring we a had a good flow over the single rudder to enable us to steer at slow speed. We passed the berth, swung in the slighter wider section of the river and then proceeded back down river to the berth making use of the flood tide to “push” us towards the berth. With us all fast by 0845 and a shore gangway rigged soon after, the Immigration and Custom Officials boarded to clear the ship.

Our first tour group who were heading to Seville for a full day were flowing down the gangway at 0900 sharp and I took the opportunity to wish them well at the foot of the gangway. We had three other tours that day which included a trip to a Rio Tinto Mine, Donana National Park, and Local Wines & El Rocio. Attached is a photo of Seville and one of the Rio Tinto mine.

Huelva is a busy port in the extreme SW corner of Spain along the Gulf of Cadiz. The city has been inhabited since 3000BC and has always been a location of maritime importance. It has been ruled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. In 1755 it suffered substantial damage after the Lisbon earthquake. During WWII the city was a hub of espionage activities led by the large British and German communities. Most famously the city was the location of the audacious British plan “Operation Mincemeat”, when a body carrying false information washed ashore.

Along with a couple of the deck crew I took to the road with my bike and had a great workout cycling 15km into Huelva where we “whizzed” round the town's narrow streets , sampled some ice cream and then headed back along the river to the ship.

With everyone back on board by 1800 we made our preparations ready to sail. With the ebb tide I had hoped this would be enough to ease the ship naturally away from the dock. Unfortunately the wind freshened just before sailing so we had to engage the services of a tug. By 1900 we were clear of the river and with the pilot away we set course for Palma, Majorca with an early morning transit of the Gibraltar Straits.

Captain Julian Burgess

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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