My goodness, where on earth do I start? A 3 a.m. call would be good, “1 hour from the pilot” the voice in my ears told me; as shower, shave and up to the Bridge for that first cup of coffee.
The lights of Durban and the coast, north and south, were twinkling in the distance, a mix of orange and red with the occasional beam of a lighthouse breaking the darkness. The wind had picked up during the night, reaching (an unforecasted), 40 kts, however it was now down to manageable proportions, a mere 20.
I have been to Durban many times, the first call being in the 70’s and it has changed considerably; the harbour has been expanded to provide more berths, but the one thing that has never changed is the approach. Our pilot was late and the swell large, (it always is here), I did not want to slow down and so asked permission to continue my approach, past the ‘Bluff’ and through the breakwaters. The (lady) pilot boarded when we were near the turn for the harbour itself and then a turn to port and back to ‘M’ pier, used by own Union-Castle ships and now, here I was again, who would have thought it.
Guests off on tours, including Karen, who went with a group of friends to Tala Game reserve, about 2 hours drive from Durban. The photographs were not taken by me, (there were no wild beasts on the pier), so Karen provided these.
Me? I had things to do, guests to meet and a busy day ahead of me. We had our VIPs arriving; Archbishop Tutu, his wife Leah, his family, the Soweto Gospel choir, the Soweto Strings and to top it off nicely, My President and CEO, Stein Kruse, his wife Linda, the President and CEO of Carnival Cruise lines…(have you got the idea)? and several corporate VIPs too. Standing in the hot sun, cap on head, I began to feel quite ‘warm’ by the end of it, however they were all safely ensconced by 1 p.m. and it was time for meetings, (but of course)!
Schedules, weather, timetables for the forthcoming days all being discussed and by 3 I had time to sit and look at the unanswered emails in my mail ‘inbox’. A ‘sailaway’ party had been arranged on our Lido deck, the theme? South African wine, so I popped up there just to take a photo or two for you, (no vino, I’m designated driver).
Then our actual ‘sailaway’, or departure. As luck would have it, our 6 p.m. departure coincided with the shift change in Durban, no pilot and no linesmen to let our lines go, ho hum, twiddling thumbs and patiently waiting…. 6:30, lo and behold, we have them and let go our lines. I let my 1st officer, Michele take her out and a nice job too. Clear of the breakwaters and 3 sea-days ahead, the first of my functions, a dinner with the Tutu family and party with the CEOs too. I was fashionably late due to the delayed departure, however the conversation was well in swing, the Archbishop is an adorable man with a wicked sense of humour and the cuisine was stupendous.
Back to my cabin and poring over weather charts; there is a very large swell forecast off the southern coast of the Cape and I work on speeds required to avoid the worst of it. Eventually, tired and sleepy, it’s time to get some rest.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be ‘eating’ my way around Africa and apart from the dinner last night, I have 2 today, 1 in the Crows Nest with our top Mariners and this evening, another, this one for our President’s Club members, those with over 1400 days with us.
I will leave you with a photo of the Archbishop. Charismatic would be an understatement, he has an aura about him and I was fortunate to be invited to a private Eucharist service with him this morning. This afternoon, in a packed Queens Lounge he spoke on stage for 2 hours. I was enthralled and very moved by his words, he is undoubtedly a ‘man amongst men’