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Gibraltar

Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

18th November, 2018

Earlier this year in spring, when Europe changed their clocks to mark the arrival of summer time, Morocco followed suit as they have done for decades. However, when the clocks were retarded by 1 hour in October as winter approached, Morocco seemingly didn’t bother this year. It was down to this somewhat clumsy omission of the latest clock change that we found ourselves approaching Tangier in pitch darkness at 07:30 on Sunday morning.

Adding the occasional dash of light, however, was the presence of a number of lively thunderstorms in the area during our time of approach. As we swung the ship in the harbour just before 08:00 and prepared to back down to our berth, a large north Atlantic swell rolled in, crashing over the high breakwater protection where we were to berth. This raised my eyebrows somewhat, as I knew that passengers would have no choice but to negotiate this periodic risk of a heavy seawater shower in order to proceed ashore, however upon bringing the ship alongside there became another concern. It was clear that the breakwater could not protect us from all of the swell as it curved around into the harbour - and the result was that little Saga Pearl 2 surged violently up and down the quayside – unfortunately making it too dangerous to land the gangway.

Thinking caps were donned as alternative solutions were considered one by one. It would have been a diplomatic nightmare to try and call into the nearby Spanish territory of Ceuta and run our Tangier tours, therefore we looked across the other side of the Gibraltar Strait and decided upon an afternoon at the Rock itself, which was basking in sunshine at the time whilst we sat in the gloom. Lines were cast off, and courses set north-eastward for 30 nautical miles or so, toward Gibraltar.

We negotiated the inside berth, sheltering nicely from the swell whilst turfing a small tanker off for the afternoon to take her place. The sun shone at lunchtime as we slid astern to tie up at around 12:15. A last-minute shore excursion was organised to visit the famous Rock, which was very well attended. Others decided to wander off independently to sample the Britishness of this rather odd place. Here we are in the southern Mediterranean, with a Morrisons, Pizza Express and sausage-roll bakery just outside the port gates. Crew members were delighted too, as they could stock up with cheap essentials nice and easily here. Gentlemen were pleased as I later discovered, for due to the fact that it was a Sunday it meant that the ladies’ spending on the high street was limited…

After sunshine & showers throughout the afternoon, the time to depart came upon us and with it, a particularly heavy rain shower, just as I had to wander out on to the open Bridge-wing to manoeuvre the ship out of the harbour. This is known as Sod’s Law of the Sea. Suitably drenched, we made our way south out of Gibraltar Bay, weaving around anchored ships before joining the east-bound traffic lane into the Mediterranean Sea where some 150 nautical miles ahead of us on the African continent lay our next destination; one similar to Gibraltar, but instead owned by the Spanish…

Captain Kim Tanner

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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