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6th November, 2017


A very windy start to the day for our call at Cartagena. When called at 0545 the Bridge informed me the wind was 35 knots from the North, so I instructed them to order 2 tugs for arrival. I was contemplating ordering up to 5 tugs as were informed it was the same price regardless of the number requested. Can you imagine 5 tugs guiding us in!!!

Anyway the pilot boarded at 0700, two miles from the port entrance and after the normal Master-Pilot exchange we agreed to make the stern tug fast before entering the harbour. Cartagena is one of the ports I always enjoy “driving” into as you have to make an “s-bend” approach swinging first to port, past the outer breakwater and then swiftly swing to stb’d past the inner breakwater. You then head across the middle of the harbour and swing 180’ to go alongside. I guess you have to be there to fully appreciate the whole manoeuver. By the time we got into the main harbour the wind had dropped, however I used the tugs anyway as I’d paid for them!!

Cartagena is a major naval station located in the region of Murcia and its sheltered bay has attracted sailors for centuries. It was founded around 227 BC by the Carthaginians and they named it Cartago Nova. It later became a prosperous Roman Colony and a Byzantine trading centre. The city has been the main Spanish Mediterranean naval base since the reign of King Philip II and today is still surrounded by walls built during this period. Cartagena’s importance grew with the arrival of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century, when the Navidad Fortress was constructed to protect the harbour. In recent years traces of the city’s fascinating past have been brought to light, particularly the well preserved Roman Theatre that was discovered in 1988 and is now open to the public.

There were 4 shore excursions on offer today included “The Best of Murcia, “Elche & the Huerto del Cura”, “Cartagena by Trolley Train”, and a “Walking Tour & Roman Theatre”. The other great thing about Cartagena is that you can walk straight into town – a mere 500 meters.

A busy day for me catching up with paperwork, updating my handover notes and preparing for dry-dock in a week's time.

With everyone on board we sailed shortly afterwards with Chief Officer Igor driving out. A very good and swift manoeuver ensured I was on time for the Britannia Club cocktail party. The wind was light and in a perfect direction to assist.

There were 428 Britannia members for this special cocktail party and just about all were there, or it certainly appeared that way. We had 4 guests turning “Sapphire” at the party, having cruised with us for over 500 nights – amazing!!

Captain Julian Burgess

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