15-Aug-2005 -- Only a few miles to go to the port of Durban, and as 30S 31E is very close to the shore, it is worth to visit it even in this rather hazy visibility.
Let's first look to NNE: There is Cape Natal, the NE extremity of what is called "The Bluff", a high wooded peninsula terminating in a remarkable bluff. Ships have to round it when entering the port of Durban from South. When having a closer look to "The Bluff", we can make out a conspicuous structure on it. It is the radar tower of the port of Durban, 105 m (345 ft) high. On the north side of "The Bluff" (not visible from the Confluence) there is a quay with facilities for loading coal into huge ships.
Looking to North, there is the densely wooded coast of Natal, and to NNW, we see the mouth of River Umlazi.
The coast seen towards West is densely wooded as well, and looking towards SW, we see the "Durban Offshore Oil Terminal". At present the Marshall Islands flagged tanker "Hampstead" is moored there. Have a look at the "Hampstead": She is a real monster!
The "Durban Offshore Oil Terminal" consists of a large mooring buoy where ships do tie up, and a submarine pipeline, which runs from the buoy to the shore. The terminal accommodates tankers of up to 200,000 tons.
Durban is the largest city in Natal, and its port is the principal one of the Republic of South Africa. It is a well-sheltered harbour. Roughly 5,000 ships do call it every year, handling about 50 million tons of cargo. Here we see the huge German container ship "DAL Kalahari" anchored off Durban's waterfront.
The bay in which Durban is situated was discovered by Vasco da Gama on Christmas Eve in 1427 and he named it Port Natal. ("Natal" means "Christmas" in Portuguese). For the next three centuries it was a refuge for shipwrecked seamen and merchants. The name "Durban" was introduced in 1835 and comes from the former Governor of the Cape Province, Benjamin d'Urban. Durban has a lot of international contacts and partnerships. Tourists like the rickshaw drivers in their colourful dresses, and Durban has the largest mosque of the southern hemisphere. The Bat-Centre in the port is a former shed and now a culture centre. In its upper floor it accommodates the "Trans African Express", further a restaurant whose menu card offers traditional dishes from all Africa.
For the pilotage Durban offers a service very rarely available worldwide: The pilot embarks and disembarks by helicopter. In most ports this is done in the conventional way by small boats and the pilot has to climb on board via a so-called Jacob's ladder.