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30th April, 2013



We took a short cut, saving over thirty miles, which gave passengers something to see on our two day journey across to Mahon. We saw Mount Etna in the distance first, then turned to starboard to pass through the Straits of Messina just
after lunch.

It was a glorious calm day. The scenery was superb and the pilot boat, as usual, raced alongside in a grand display of Italian finesse. He was on board for forty five minutes - enough time to find out that he had worked on passenger
ships himself.

When he eventually left, he knew the score and waved energetically at the passengers leaning over to see the spectacle of his boat peeling away like some Italian version of a Red Arrows display.

The Sapphire docked at Mahon

We turned west and a few hours later passed just south of Vulcano, one of the Eolie islands - a group of, yes, volcanic islands, of which one, called Stromboli, is still active.

Due to issues with the intended dredging of Mahon harbour, we were obliged to anchor and our pilot, once he had boarded, seemed a tad excited as to where we should drop the hook. Not surprising I suppose, because the swinging area is rather small for a ship of this size.

When I explained we intended to use the stern anchor he calmed down a little. I didn’t tell him that I hadn’t tried it before until after the operation was complete. He seemed happy enough though, we ended up just where he wanted us, in line with Lord Nelson’s house and a boat shed on the waterfront. (Who needs all the electronic wizardry on such a beautiful day?)


Lord Nelson's house

It was a glorious position - the views all round being rather splendid and the tenders ran back and forth, supplemented for a while by one of the boats from Quest for Adventure, which also happened to be in port.

I explained to the local dignitaries (another plaque exchange) that I had been in this particular spot almost some fifty years ago, when I was just a school boy on the school cruise ship Nevasa. They appeared suitably impressed and then I realised why; none of them had been born then.

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