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20th March, 2019

La Gomera

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and an earlier night than expected for me, but more on that later.

It seemed a ‘short’ night after a late night departure from La Palma and an 0700 Pilot this morning for La Gomera.

Fabulous twilight this morning as we approached La Gomera from the south. The south, why? La Palma is north of La Gomera I hear you navigators exclaim. Indeed, due to the short sea passage inter-Island we had to, effectively, steam ‘extra’ distance just to maintain minimum speed.

Embarking the pilot at 0700, I swung off the breakwater only to find a strong north-going tidal stream taking me rapidly north and this required a little bit of judicious manoeuvring to get stern-in to the narrow harbour channel, with brisk winds it was a case of using the elements to one’s advantage.

Tucked up nicely alongside by 0740, the gangway was secured and the ship ready for the first of our tours. Having been to the Island previously I do know that, whilst a smaller island, it does have stunning scenery and colours.

A broadly lovely day with only a little local cloud building in the mid to late afternoon. However, by 1500, the persistent winds started to creep up, somewhat beyond forecast. An update from the Harbour Master’s office advised that high winds building to 35knots would materialise from 1900 onwards and remain until late tomorrow morning. These winds were NW’ly in direction and with no tug services available in port, leaving the berth at the scheduled 2300, would be impossible.

After a senior-team discussion onboard it was agreed, provided all crew and Guests were back onboard we would attempt to sail at 1900. Close to the sailing time we had two crew remaining outstanding ashore The wind was building and the window of opportunity was closing. If I was stuck in La Gomera overnight, that was the end of our scheduled call into Tenerife tomorrow. Julian, the Hotel Director, with the assistance of the local police, drove around the town in search of our colleagues. Managing to track down the crew who had gone ashore to use the Wi-Fi services, we were ready to sail shortly after 1900. Julian thinking outside the box again.

Having considered all of my options I adopted an unusual manoeuvre to undock from La Gomera. With the ship walked-out so the stern was pinned on the berth and the bow out at sea and the bow thrust maintaining the balance on the wind, it was a kick ahead on both engines, hard-a-port and lift the stern clear. Interesting manoeuvre and, evidently, a workable solution.

Clear of the break water, I handed the ‘charge’ to Tom, the Staff Captain and made my way to my informal quasi formal dinner.

An interesting day….

Captain Stuart Horne

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