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24th September, 2014

Mahon, Menorca

I always look forward to coming to this port. The entrance and general feel of the port really excite me so when I arrive on the bridge , as I did this morning, and saw the entrance ahead of me in the dark, with the red and green navigational buoys blinking away on a calm morning, I felt very content. As we closed on the port, the Pilot who was making his way out to us, asked me to continue up the channel without him, and he would board as soon as possible. There was quite a northerly current this morning so I had to alter course to the south to counteract this, so to the unsuspecting eye the ship looked as though it was heading for the cliffs. But we were actually drifting and I was controlling the drift with course alterations. Once inside the channel I slowed the ship to receive the pilot. The sun was rising and we could see the port quite clearly now as we sailed in on a calm and sunny morning. I felt as though I was driving the ship up the streets as we were so close to the roads, it is spectacular. Once off the berth we swung the ship around, using a tug to assist as we went due to the shallow waters, and we were all fast at 8:00am. Mahon has been the capital of Menorca since 1721 and has an impressive natural harbour.

For those passengers who had not booked to go on an organised shore excursion there was a complimentary shuttle bus service to take them to the town centre. Or alternatively, if they were feeling energetic, they could walk up 100 or so steps from the quayside which took them to the town and although there were a lot of steps, the climb was very pretty with lovely views. Mahon boasts attractive Neoclassical, Baroque and Romanesque buildings with narrow streets to explore and pleasant squares.

There were two tours for passengers to book on today. The first was ‘Monte Toro and Binibeca’ which revealed Menorca’s varied history and rural traditions. Binibeca is a picturesque pedestrianised village and coastal resort made up of white painted fishermen’s houses built in Moorish style. After this passengers were taken to Taula de Torralba, a megalithic T-shaped stone monument dating back from 1000BC, followed by a visit to an Augustinian monastery and an old Menorcan farm. The second tour was a scenic northern drive to see some of Menorca’s charming seaside resorts with views of the rugged northern coast.

After a very enjoyable day in Mahon we set sail at 5:00pm, and many were out on deck enjoying the beautiful views of this lovely island. As we sailed out, I had informed the passengers that we would sound the whistle for a Hotel that Saga use for their land based holidays, and it's been a ritual since I have been Captain to say hello to fellow Saga guests.

Once the pilot disembarked I gave the Navigational command to our 4th Officer Gwyn, who is gaining in experience, so he sailed the ship towards Gibraltar on the 4-8 watch. He is extremely competent but obviously with the safety of the ship paramount we have all the responsible supervision in place; it is good experience for him and I trust him, as he calls me if there is anything he is unsure about, as all good officers are required to do. The Chief Officer, who is on the watch also, stands in the back ground but is always there.

Anyway we will now spend a day at sea as we sail towards our next destination, where we are due to dock in Gibraltar on Friday.

This evening’s after dinner entertainment featured the musical artistry of Multi-Instrumentalist Kenny Martin in the Britannia Lounge, and for the night owls Explosive Vocalist Gareth Evans performed his late night cabaret in the Drawing Room.

Captain Alistair Mclundie

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.