Yesterday had been an interesting day here on Quest for Adventure. We had been scheduled to arrive at the anchorage for Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, at midday.
During the morning, Bruce George had delivered the last of his lectures, titled, ‘Contemporary French Politics’. There had been plenty going on around the ship, with quizzes, deck sports and more. An early lunch was offered to the passengers in the hope that we would be able to send them ashore in Saint Peter Port.
The pilot duly boarded but I was already fearing the worst. The weather was poor, with very low cloud and outbreaks of rain. A strong wind was blowing parallel to the coast and the conditions were predicted to deteriorate. We lowered a tender to the water to test the conditions and, on the advice of the local pilot, I decided that it would be too risky to operate a tender service into Saint Peter Port. There was a remote chance we could get the passengers ashore, but almost zero chance we would have been able to get them back! Deciding it would be best not to leave anyone stranded in Guernsey we heaved the anchor and continued on our way to Portland. However, with time in hand we took the ship sightseeing and sailed by Herm, Jethou and Sark. On sailing past Sark we sailed close by the island of Brecqhou with a perfect view of the Barclay Brothers’ recently-built mansion surrounded by manicured lawns. Oh how the other half live!
With an unexpected afternoon at sea, Brigadier Mike Shaw volunteered first to fill the gap with a lecture on ‘D-Day and the Normandy Landings’. Elsewhere the cinema was proving popular with the showing of the latest Bond film. The pre-dinner lecture was delivered by Martin P. Lee and titled, ‘The Story of the English Channel’ and at approximately 7pm we made the approach to Portland and berthed for the night. The forecast for the English Channel was heavy seas overnight so I thought best to arrive the night before to ensure there was no unnecessary discomfort.
The evening entertainment included a virtuoso performance from classical pianist Maria Garzón, and a Cabaret Special night in Shackleton’s Bar with Steve Terry and the Quest Quartet. With that it was time for some of our passengers to pack as they were to be leaving us in the morning, whilst others are staying on to Milford Haven and Greenock.
We awoke in Portland this morning to much better conditions than yesterday. A complimentary shuttlebus was taking those passengers who will continue their voyage with us to Portland Castle and Weymouth, whilst we said goodbye to those passengers who were leaving us today. This is our first UK mainland call since Dover on 18th August last year, and as you can imagine there was a lot of supplies to load and visitors from our Head Office.
The numerous morning meetings were soon complete and we had also welcomed nineteen passengers who have taken the opportunity of a mini-cruise from Portland to Greenock. Amongst the 19 were 3 chums plus their wives from my pre-sea training school, HMS Conway.
With their safety briefing complete we departed from Portland shortly after 2pm and headed back out into the English Channel. Two of the ORCA team are still with us and they were busy scouring the seas for signs of marine life as we headed past Portland Bill and out towards Land’s End. Lecturer Andrew Cooper, formerly of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, has joined us for these two days and presented the first of his talks, ‘BBC Natural History and the Dramatic Birth of the English Channel’ in the Discovery Lounge. A number of passengers were up on deck watching the UEFA Europa League final on the big screen before an enjoyable cabaret showtime with Welsh songstress Maria Lyn and the new Quest Quartet, who had also embarked today. The forecast for tomorrow is looking favourable so we hope for a good morning in Milford Haven.