22nd October, 2019
A rather windy start to the day for our call at Cartagena as when I was called at 0600 the Bridge informed me the wind was 25-30 knots from the SW. Now had I have been on the Saga Sapphire I would have ordered tugs and in fact you can order up to 5 tugs as apparently it is the same price regardless of the number requested!! Can you imagine 5 tugs guiding us in?! Anyway with Spirit of Discovery having lots of “thruster” and “pod” power there was no need for tugs.
With the pilot on board at 0700, two miles from the port entrance and after the normal Master-Pilot exchange we agreed the 2nd Officer could keep the con until we entered the inner 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 and we were all fast alongside by 0745 – in the dark again!!
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 8 shore excursions on offer today including “The Best of Murcia”, “Elche & the Priests Garden”, “Cartagena by Trolley Train”, “Exclusive Spanish Horse Show” and a “Discover Mazarron”. The other great thing about Cartagena is that you can normally walk straight into town – a mere 500 meters.
Unfortunately today was best suited to our web footed friends as it literally rained all day and I mean rained! So there was wasn’t too much walking into town!!
With everyone on board by 1700 we sailed shortly afterwards with Staff Captain Matt once again driving out. A very good and swift manoeuver ensured the pilot was clear by 1745 and we set course for Ibiza.
Captain Julian Burgess
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