25th January, 2020
After a high speed run down the Portuguese and Spanish coasts we made an Easterly approach to the pilot station in rather overcast conditions. This was my 2nd call to Huelva so I was familiar with the approach to the harbour. The pilot boarded at 0915 and we then had a 6 mile run in the buoyed Odiel river. I kept the con of the ship throughout and we docked Starboard side with a fairly week ebb tide of about 1 knot. We were all fast with guests ready to go ashore at 1030. As I headed to the gangway to wish them a great day the skies were starting to clear and we were in for a good afternoons weather
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 five tours on offer which included a trip to Donana National Park, Local Wines & El Rocio, and the Columbus Route.
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.
I decided to head out on my mountain bike (I’ve brought 2 on board this time!!) and headed for La Rabida where there is a 15th century Franciscan Monastery, an International University and replicas of Christopher Columbus ships the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria which he used for his first voyage to the Americas in 1492 (see attached photos)
With everyone back on board by 1700 we made our preparations ready to sail. With the ebb tide being used to our advantage and a very manoeuvrable ship, Staff Captain Franko swung off the berth and took the ship out to sea
Tonight was Burn’s night and we had our 3rd consecutive party after the Welcome and Newcomers events. At the end of the party there was a procession into the Britannia lounge led by our “piper” David McRobert who carried out the traditional “Address to a Haggis” which was very well received.
We now have 2 days at sea an d then we visit Malta for a 24 hour overnight stop – sounds fabulous!
Captain Julian Burgess
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