21st September, 2019
The day at sea across the Biscay was fantastic - even managed to get a ‘Caribbean’ style escape sunset, but this is the Biscay!
The thing you have to get used to when coming down for an Article circle cruise to French cruising is the darkness. Pilot embarkation times as early as 0600, in the Arctic, I was always greeted with twilight or a sunrise hue. France, nah, its black at 0800! It just takes a lot of getting used to, it’s a different way of driving ships and the data-support process required is quite different.
So after a lovely crossing yesterday, this morning we were greeted with heavy skies, by way of no starlight and brisk southerly winds. Entry into the Ria de Vigo is executed by passing inside the islands ‘Illas Cies’, made up of the three principle islands that, more or less, form a defensive barrier to the estuary in which Vigo sits. Uninhabited but frequented by day trippers to the sheltered east facing beaches
The Pilot can be embarked before you make your entry into the Ria, or once inside the islands and much closer to the port. Because we are good at what we do , I always pick up the Pilot inside. Embarking the Pilot at 0630, I headed north of East. The berth is clear and open however the irritating off-berth southerly wind was a possible challenge. I elected to turn wide to the north-east to allow me time and distance to assess the wind impact on run down to the pier. Setting the engines early, one astern and the other ‘ahead’ to screw up into the wind, I approached the berth, of what I could see. The Pier wasn’t the best illuminated and we resorted to using powerful torches to see where to land the ship on the Yokohama fenders.
All tied up for 0745, marginally ahead of schedule, the rain started, rain, chucked it! I was going to go ashore for lunch, my one run-ashore, per tour of duty, but frankly, it was raining so hard I was disinclined! It stopped raining from time to time, but generally it was an ‘Aberdeen day’.
All aboard for 1600, Kirill, my Safety Officer, the smiling Russian, took the ship off the quay this afternoon. The wind had freshened from the SW to west, or just north of west pinning the ship onto the berth. Fortunately, Tugs were available at short notice, very short notice and thus departure time was not unduly impacted. Using the Tug to pull the ships starboard quarter off the berth and into the wind, matching with the bow-thruster Kirill moved the ship away and astern off the berth. Once in clear water, he pushed the bow on through the wind and set out across the RI de Vigo toward the Illas Cies.
The Pilot was in a hurry for tea, I think, and disembarked as soon as we released the Tug from services. Once clear of the Islands at 1900, we set course north and then more easterly following the NW coast line of Spain toward La Coruna.
A night off from social duties tonight, feet up, club sandwich and mind in neutral until my 0500 morning call that is!
Captain Stuart Horne
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