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15th June, 2017


We had been watching the weather forecast for Glengarrif for several days and it had been looking marginal for a tender boat call. The weather information we were originally getting indicated an unsafe wave height, however after a couple of phone calls to the Harbour Master and Senior Pilot they assured me the anchorage would be well protected.

Well with the pilot boarding at 0645, and after a lengthy discussion regarding anchor positions, we headed up into the top of Bantry Bay and found “calm waters” which was great news. I manouvered the ship this morning as it was a very tight anchorage and we needed to lay out both a bow and stern anchor. Prior to taking over Saga Sapphire I’d never had a stern anchor so this was a new “slice of seamanship” to undertake.

On the approach we swung the bow into the wind, which presented less surface area and ensured we maintained control of the ship even at slow speed, and headed to the western end of the bay before dropping the port anchor. We then moved astern with one engine and laid out the cable on the sea bed until we got to 5 shackles in the water. Each shackle on the anchor chain is marked and equates to 15 fathoms or 90 feet. Using the Bow Thruster to maintain the right heading we then walked back the stern anchor under power. Once the stern anchor was on the bottom we heaved up the port anchor to bring the ship ahead and lay the stern anchor cable neatly on the sea bed. We finally ended up with 4 shackles fwd and 2 shackles aft. Using both a bow and stern anchor would avoid us swinging round and into shallow water.

By 0755 we had our pontoon rigged, boats in the water and shore operations established. We had 5 tours running today so a heavy Shore Excursions programme including The Magical Ring of Beara, Gardens on Garnish Island, The Whiddy Island Experience, Skibbereen and West Cork, and Scenic Gougane Barra.

Meaning “Rough Glen” in Irish, Glengarrif is a small seaside village in the south-west of Cork, which sits at the northern head of Glengarrif Bay near Bantry Bay. The village itself exudes old-world charm and is ideally situated for exploring the spectacular Beara Peninsular and Bougane Barra. Botanists have a particular interest in this part of Cork because it is one of the few places in Ireland where the original oak forests, which once covered the whole country, remain.

With the last tender safely stowed we were all ready to sail and again the Staff Captain got his “hands on the wheel”. With a well-executed departure and the pilot disembarked we initially headed Sw’ly to clear Bantry Bay before heading back toward the Celtic sea.

At 1900 hrs we were joining our most travelled guest (nearly 2,000 days) for dinner. As a Diamond member of our Britannia Club (1000+ nights) she is entitled to an exclusive private dining experience with the Captain or a Senior Officer and a bespoke menu. We had a fabulous evening.

Captain Julian Burgess

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.