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28th March, 2019


Good morning readers,, here we are, south of the Isle of Wight on our approach to our turnaround port of Southampton. Yes, I am 5 hours late!

After our late sailing from Lisbon, we navigated our way up the Portuguese coastline. The forecast was for about 6 hours of ‘rough-ish stuff’, an Easterly blow of 35kots and 5.0 meters seas from the east. A good direction for the Saga Sapphire as we wouldn’t be ‘pounding’ head-on into the sea state. My, how wrong can a forecast be? Two forecasts at that!!

On the Tuesday afternoon the seas started to build, on schedule. Coincidentally we were due to have our Farewell Cocktail that evening and no reason why it shouldn’t go ahead. The expected weather was viewed as a manageable event. However, by 1700 we were into 7.0 meters seas and from the NNE on the bow, not a good direction for a 15.5 knot Southampton arrival speed!

At 1800-ish I broadcast to the Guests that we would have the Formal night and Hosted tables, but no cocktail party because we were starting to ‘move-around’ just a little too much. I had reduced speed by the time dinner time came around, sitting down for dinner was just fine. Back on the Bridge at 2130, I had to reduce all the way down to 8.5 knots as we faced 10.0 meters seas and 60knot winds.

Assessing the impact upon Southampton, my team and I worked on a number of scenarios…

Yesterday morning, at around 0330, I started to increase speed as the weather conditions showed signs of abating. By 0730, I was back to full power and making 15.0 knots, but now way behind schedule. To add salt to the injury, my planned passage through the Needles, the western approach to the Isle of Wight and an hour shorter in passage time, was frustrated. Why? To go through the Needles the tidal stream needs to be right, it’s quite ‘tight’ navigationally. An on-time arrival would have present good tidal conditions, now being late, they were not favourable and so I elected to go around the Isle of Wight and embark the Piot at Nab, rather than at Lepe. A further hour’s delay.

We had a ‘casual’ cocktail party last night, well, I could not say cheerio without saying cheerio! Besides, with a late arrival in Southampton there was no reason not to have a last wild night - no early debarkation call!

Jo Bo, CD and the team had primed the Guest for a Birthday event, and all the crew came into the Britannia Lounge to sing Happy Birthday - very touching and how lovely it was to receive two huge Birthday cards signed by so many Guests and crew. I am bit of a ‘softie’ at heart. Then the whole event was dashed by a lovely Britannia Gold member telling me that from 60 years to 70 years, goes very fast! Thanks!

So, as I sign off this Blog, I am about to embark the Pilot and aim be alongside by 1230. My thanks to the team aboard and ashore for making this re-scheduled turn-around work, it’s going to be a challenging day and my thanks to my Guests for their patience and understanding. I am debarking today and handing over to Captain Julian, who is in the seat for the next cruise, “ Flavours of the Iberian Peninsula”, looks like a lovely cruise. I am back on the 11th April when I can update you on my 60th Birthday bash.

Be happy, it’s what life is about. Captain Stuart, until next time.

Captain Stuart Horne

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

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