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4th April, 2013


Between the islands there was a certain degree of rock and roll, at least until we passed through the gap between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Arrecife is on the eastern side of the island and sheltered, to a certain extent, from westerly swell and wind. In fact we docked without issue and the tours and independents were soon away, making the most of what was expected to be just a half day call.

Nature had other ideas. As the sun rose so did the wind, until the gusts were either pushing us on to the quay wall or, at times, trying to suck us off. All morning, sat at my desk, I could feel the little juddery movements as the ship lines tautened and then relaxed, fenders on the quay wall heaving up against the hull paintwork. The seamen were called to stations for departure with me expecting little chance of getting both the bow and the stern off at the same time, despite the use of the harbour tug. The wind was gusting over thirty knots and, despite the bow thruster sending its wash almost over the quay wall and the tug straining at its bar tight towing line, we moved nowhere. There was no option but to stay until nature decided it was time for us to leave.  

By 5pm nothing had really changed and the Captain on the big Norwegian job ahead of us came onto the VHF and explained to me that my problem was also his problem as he also had to leave for his run back to Malaga. ‘Sorry’, I said, ‘Not a lot I can do’. I could sense his brain ticking over and thinking that, with his immense thruster power, he may be able work against the wind and get past us, but he said somewhat jokingly in his Scandinavian accent, ‘I would hate to have to use you as a fender’. I replied, ‘Well, if you can get up wind enough and stay there, I can just slip out from under your lee’. He seemed to find that somewhat amusing. In fact he did let go and work sideways into the wind, and then, once he had sufficient space between us, he put power onto the propellers and made a hasty exit out of the harbour. It was impressive. We stayed overnight.

The next morning the pilot told me that he had been on the absolute limits. Good job he didn’t lose a thruster just at a critical moment.

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