Not the Reef Knot (3): Off to Durban to see Vistafjord

WSS DURBAN VISIT MARCH 1990. Written by Ken M

Early on the morning of Monday 26th, March, five of the Branch members left on the Branch visit to Durban. Tom, Derek, Neville, Ken and Howard travelled along a wet but quiet N3, arriving at Durban at breakfast time. After checking into the hotel the group set off for town and the offices of Medite, where our first ship visit was arranged. A visit to Unicorn for the same purpose bore no fruit!
Our visit to MSC’s ANIELLO took place at 13h00. We were given a good look over the 1971 – built cargo ship. ANIELLO is no stranger to our shores,- having served a Safmarine charter during the late ’70’s as the German TURMALIN. Following a tour of the harbour, we went back to the hotel, and the rest of the afternoon was spent at leisure. (In the pub -normally)

MSC’ Aniello

Tuesday saw us arriving at the harbour after a round of shopping. We were then fortunate enough to board the old dredger RIBBOK for a short trip under tow from the passenger terminal to F berth.

Ribbok has been laid up for some months now, and judging by the decay aboard, she will shortly be sailing up the Silt Canal for the last time – a great pity, for she is only 23 years old, rather young for retirement.  (I did a write up on this trip in another blogpost)  While we were leaving the quay, another vessel was arriving at it – in rather an alarming manner. Howard gaped at the incoming Japanese trawler while Ken counted out the seconds to impact. Then – BUM! Bits of concrete flying, with the  trawler going astern, complete with a bridgeful of red faces. The second attempt was made more cautiously. An inspection of the berth afterwards revealed some of the reason for the accident – there was barely 10ft between the trawler and the ships ahead and astern!

The guilty party

A walk back around the harbour saw poor Tom perform the same trick as the unfortunate trawler, except that he received impact vertically as opposed to horizontally – this all courtesy of as freshly dug hole in the quay. At this time we saw MSC’s SEXTUM arriving to the container berths.

MSC’s Sextum arriving

Wednesday morning we were all assembled at the North Pier to await the arrival of Canard’s VISTAFJORD. The liner appeared through the morning fog to be met by the pilot launch. She looked impressive as she made her way to her berth.

Approaching Durban

In Durban and approaching Ocean Terminal

Our visit aboard was an eye opener – the ship is fitted with all the mod-cons, and luxury abounds. After tea we went ashore, and took another drive around the port. (I did a retrospective of her with images of her as Saga Ruby, shortly before she went to the breakers.)

Vistafjord by night

Very little of interest showed up during our stay, but we did get some good shots of Safmarine’s SA WATERBERG, and Mitsui’s OSAKA MARU. After taking some night shots of the liner, we left for the Transvaal.

SA Waterberg afternoon arrival

Osaka Maru late afternoon arrival

Some good laughs were had by all, and we look forward to our next trip.


Unfortunately the last two images are poor as they were taken under low light conditions and the scans did not come out very well. 

At the time Vistafjord was considered to be one of the top ships in the world and she was really impressive, but she did not leave an impression on me at all.  I seem to think she either sailed late that evening or early the next day as I have no sailing images from her. 

Original Reef Knot page converted to OCR by

DRW 2022. Created 10/02/2022. Article from The Reef Knot courtesy of Glyn Price,  text by Ken M. 



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