Skip to navigation Skip to content
< Back to Saga Sapphire blog

2nd February, 2015

San Sebastian, La Gomera

The Port in La Gomera is quite a small and challenging port. Because of the narrowness of the entrance, there is not too much room to manoeuvre and in the event of strong winds, it does not give a lot of space to adjust. However as the weather in these Islands is usually good it is not normally an issue. Today was going to be the same, we looked at the forecast, the agent got me the local forecast and the winds were due to be about 1-2 knots. However when I walked through the door of the bridge at 6:30am this morning, the wind was howling up to 35 knots!!. I spoke with the pilot and we were asked to wait for the ferries to leave the port first which I agreed and it gave me time to allow for sunrise to develop and I could get a look at the conditions in Daylight. As we were waiting I decided to turn the ship around and reverse into the port. The reason for this was that if during the course of my manoeuvre, the wind was too strong or things were not going as I was planning, I could just put the throttles ahead and drive away. This is what we call our escape route and is quite normal when planning and executing a manoeuvre. I was also aware that there was a very strong Northely current running so I swung the ship around, while manoeuvring the ships stern around the breakwater. The wind, even in the shelter of the harbour was about 25 knots but with full power on the bowthruster , the ship responded well and we were soon parallel in the harbour to the berth. I used the wind blowing us onto the quayside, as a “Natural” tug and used some corrective engine and bowthruster power to reduce the drift and land gently. So we were all fast at 8:00am.

La Gomera is one of the oldest and smallest of the Canary Islands.

The tours on offer today were ‘Gomeran Delights’ which ascended to the hills of La Gomera. After leaving the capital the coach followed the island's arid slopes which lead up to the wooded valleys. Passengers visited Garajonay National Park, home to one of the world’s few surviving laurel woodlands, a beautiful forest which once covered the entire Mediterranean basin and is considered today to be a 'living fossil'. The ‘Walking in the Garajonay National Park’ tour took passengers up to El Alto de Garajonay, the highest point on La Gomera, 4,878 feet above sea level. The walk took approximately one-and-a-half hours and went through forests and woodland. Some of the species that grow here have completely disappeared in other parts of the world: one example is Erica Arborea, a heather plant that can grow to a height of over 50 feet.

For those passengers who were not on an organised tour, there was a complimentary shuttle service which took passengers to the centre of San Sebastian which allowed them to explore this little town independently.

All passengers and crew were back on board by 5.30pm and shortly afterwards, we set sail. The wind had continued to blow us onto the quayside so I had a few plans of attack to try and get the ship out the port. The first was to do a usual Manoeuvre and bodily move the ship away, and the second, if this did not work, I was going to move the ship along the fenders until the end of the breakwater and simply drive ahead. However the first plan worked and the ship handled just as I wanted her to and we soon cleared the Breakwater and set our course south to the Cape Verde Isklands. This evening’s entertainment featured The Explosive Singers & Dancers with their performance entitled ‘Come on over to my place’ featuring music from the legendary Drifters. Upstairs in the Drawing the Sapphire Orchestra performed some Late Night Jazz which allowed them to display the skills in a more intimate setting. The Drawing Room was full and the Jazz performance was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We will now spend two days at sea as we sail towards our next destination.

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.