Tug waiting for a ship near cranes in durban Harbour
A tug waiting for an incoming ship near cranes in Durban Harbour

Durban Harbour – The Port of Durban

Visitors on Durban beachfront as a laden container ship leaves Durban harbour.

Visitors on Durban beachfront as a laden container ship leaves Durban harbour.

If you live in, or stay around Durban you can’t help but be aware of Durban harbour. Spend a bit of time on the Durban beachfront and you can’t miss the large ships at anchor out towards the horizon. Ships of various kinds wait at anchor along the northern kwaZulu-Natal coast for their turn to unload and reload in the harbour. From our spot at Umdloti, one night we counted 33 ships at anchor, after a big storm the day before our arrival caused problems and delays.

Following the outlines of the bay discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1497, Durban harbour, technically The Port of Durban, is the second biggest harbour in Africa and is an important link in trade with South Africa and countries to the north.

Boats, Cranes and Restaurants

Durban harbour is also something of a tourist attraction. A number of restaurants are situated around the harbour. Tourists can take boat tours around the harbour, ranging from short small boat trips, to meals on one of the large floating restaurants. Want to go sea fishing? You can arrange the trip and sail from the harbour.

We took some time out at Zacks on Wilson’s Wharf and just sat and enjoyed a couple of drinks while we watched the activity in the harbour. The weather was good for a jaunt like this. Typical of Durban weather at this time of year, some days are overcast, some are sunny and hot. Even when it’s overcast, it is warm.

It’s amazing the watch the big cranes offloading containers from the ships. At a distance those big containers look like Lego blocks as the cranes effortlessly swing them away.

On a small spit of land nearby people are fishing, as we watch small pleasure craft taking tourists and school kids, on a day out, around the harbour.We noticed, too, big efforts to keep the harbour clean, with a group of workers picking up refuse which washes ashore.

French Navy frigate Floréal in Durban Harbour

French Navy frigate Floréal in Durban Harbour

Over on the other side we can see a navy ship in a berth, dwarfed by the container ship being loaded behind it. We later identified the ship online as the French Navy monitoring frigate, Floréal.

There is continuous activity going on all over.

 

 

Harbour Mouth

Portuguese registered container vessel Jogela in Durban harbour mouth

Portuguese registered container vessel Jogela in Durban harbour mouth

Later in the day we headed for the harbour mouth. If you have never see a big ship coming into harbour, this is fascinating. We could see the ship clearly heading into the port.

We arrived in time to see the pilot boat returning from the ship. Obviously the harbour pilot was on board and the large container ship was on its way into the harbour mouth.

I had seen a tug move to park near some cranes, seemingly waiting for something. The tug moved up just in front of us and simply stopped dead in the water in the channel, something very odd to see, as boats normally don’t just stop in the water.

In due course the massive container ship moved in, engines just ticking over, dwarfing the tug. It looked as if it was going to run over the smaller boat. As the ship came along side the tug, it matched speed and stayed with the big boat to guide it to its berth. Obviously these crews do this every day, and make it look it look very smooth and easy, but it’s fascinating to watch for the first time.

Beach

We spent a bit of time on the beach near the Durban Ski-Boat Club. There wasn’t much activity on this Monday morning, but some good views of the city, and nearby apartments.

 

Visit the Harbour

In all the years I went to Durban on holiday, and then lived there I never went to see the harbour. If you are visiting Durban, make a point of it. It’s worth it.

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