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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

20th March, 2015

The day dawned with low clouds and heavy showers, but there was a change in the wind, the cold front must be going through. A few miles away ‘Oriana’ was waiting for us to ‘get out of the way’ and just after six we left the berth and moved slowly out to sea. To the west of the islands I knew the swell was rising, to the east it was calm, while way above, the odd patch of blue sky was occasionally appearing. Local forecasters and the satellite charts were saying that the best chance would be in the area around the southern islands, but the westerly wind was being funnelled through the fjords bringing dark cumulus clouds and very heavy showers.

Once clear the vessel was turned to the south, the speed reduced. With just over three hours to go, I was looking up trying to get some impression of what the weather Gods were going to do. Gradually more blue sky appeared, but frustratingly distant. Speed was increased. Meanwhile, the Master on the ‘Oriana’ appeared to have changed his mind, instead of going alongside in Torshavn he had followed us out into open waters, and in fact seemed to be tracing our exact track.

Around 8:40am the sun was coming and going, I saw the first indication of the moon just crossing the edge of the sun, but the low shower clouds kept coming. Much higher there appeared to be an intermittent band of stratus which would make a sighting even more frustratingly difficult. For almost half an hour only the odd glimpse of the moon gradually covering the sun could be seen as another wave of heavy grey clouds came down wind and over our heads.

And then, with only ten minutes to go, more blue sky appeared. Speed was increased again, I kept looking towards the islands and tried to gauge where those darker clouds would be at totality. Tom, the Officer of the Watch, received my order and the ship was swung to port, by now I wanted my 37,000 tonne charge to become a Ferrari. We chased the blue.

At 9:41am hours the fiery rim of the sun was in the only visible patch of clear sky, and we experienced two minutes of totality, what a thrill, what an experience, and what a sense of satisfaction!

We have some very happy passengers who seemed to be, for some obscure reason, somewhat amused when I came over the Tannoy and said that, according to the radar, ‘Oriana’ appeared to be under a heavy rain shower. To our office I simply emailed, ‘Mission accomplished’.

Captain Philip Rentell

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.