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27th January, 2013

Las Palmas

I am Michael Corrigan and I too joined the Sapphire in Southampton on 22nd January. I hope to offer you a taste of life behind the door marked ‘crew only’ from the perspective of a cadet on his maiden voyage, and a look back at our second port, Las Palmas.

It is a real privilege to be given the opportunity to spend the first month of my first sea phase travelling to the Caribbean islands, via the Atlantic isles of Madeira and Gran Canaria.

But despite the relaxed, holiday atmosphere amongst the passengers, there are always jobs to be done behind the scenes and my first week was one of familiarisation and basic seamanship: getting to know my surroundings, the ship’s rules and conventions and what uniform to wear and when. Add to this the sea conditions from the English Channel to southern Spain and it made for an interesting initial week.

Our second port, Las Palmas, was equally exciting. While the afternoon sun and the steady breeze made for pleasant conditions, the crew were maintaining the ship during the return of the 7 tonne bow thruster motor that had been ashore to a local workshop for specialist maintenance.

Ship maintenance and seamanship is an essential part of life as a cadet - I am trained to be a seaman before being trained to be an officer, so the boiler suit and hard hat were donned and we got down to work on the hatch covers and trackways. Notably, when Christopher Columbus visited Gran Canaria in 1492, he also required maintenance on his vessel, though in his case, it was the rudder that was attended to.

The city of Las Palmas is the largest urban area on the island of Gran Canaria and is a blend of modern and historic, with an old quarter that dates back to the 15th Century. The bustling city life contrasts with the slower, more tranquil pace as one heads away from the city centre, with high-rise hotels and apartments swapped for quaint, whitewashed, red-tiled houses.

Further out, the island’s volcanic heritage is evident, with larger cone-shaped peaks and the Bandama Crater, from which fantastic views across the island can be enjoyed.

As early evening came the sun began to set and the passengers returned from their excursions. The ship’s crew turned their attention to preparing for the Atlantic crossing, whilst we cadets compared notes on the day’s happenings for our forthcoming reports and looked forward to the next stage in our journey.

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

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.