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12th December, 2017


I had been aware that a number of weather fronts associated with a low were hurtling across the Atlantic to our fair shores. Early in the day in Southampton we had been thinking about how to get ahead of the game, get some hours in the pocket, so to speak, based upon the premise that we could be in for some 'rocky' weather on our way down to Madeira.

I slipped my moorings at 1630 and headed on down Southampton Water. Having discussed with Southampton the desire to navigate by way of the Needles, traffic was confirmed and we set up to navigate west.

Setting the engines to 'at best possible speed', the Chief Engineer [I have now nicked named him 'Landover Len'] wound up the two diesel engines and we were making best speed in short shrift. Rounding Ushant, the north end of the Biscay, at 0715 on Saturday morning we set our SW/ly track across the Biscay.

It was early doors, but you could feel the storm rising, but nothing substantial just yet. We rounded Cape Finisterre at 0430 on the Sunday, leaving the Biscay and eased our way off the Portuguese coast. On reflection, it was a good Biscay crossing, but it was time to batten down the hatches as the forecasted storms started to materialise.

Sunday night was the lumpiest, and it was that balance of ensuring we arrived in a timely fashion to Funchal whilst keeping the ship comfortable. The weather backed to the Northwest overnight and this allowed me to increase speed, making the stabilisers, bilge keels and rudder more effective and we almost 'surfed' along. With the increased speed I had some time in hand, and therefore able to steer a course to create a stable environment during the morning activity and evening entertainment that included, breakfast, lunch and evening dining.

The Monday night was much more comfortable and we rounded the east end of the Island at 0715 this morning and embarked the Pilot at 0900, ahead of schedule. It seemed to me to be a splendid idea to get alongside early and enjoy the sunshine in the lee of the south coast of Madeira. By 0950, the first to enjoy Funchal were strolling ashore. A great result. Now we needed to fresh-water wash all the sea-salt off the ship.

Captain Stuart Horne

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