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

17th April, 2018


The run through Gibraltar straits on the 16th was like turning a light off. As we approached the wind increased as did the sea conditions. By the time we rounded Cabo Roca [south western point of Portugal] the forecast was not looking good and I was already thinking about delaying our departure from, Leixoes - and we hadn’t arrived yet.

This port is a bit of tricky one, a couple of tight turns in confined waters, the need to swing before going stern-first through the narrow cut to the berth. Here two tugs are compulsory for berthing, which seems to be extremely sensible with a southerly 20 knots of wind.

I asked the Pilot to embark early at 1.5 miles out to sea. I felt we needed more time to discuss the manoeuvre. The relationship with the Pilot is as big a part of berthing as the physical manoeuvring of the ship! With the Pilot on-board the conversation was extremely positive. He was going to be good member of the team. With two tugs made fast, the approach was made, the swing completed and a nice controlled stern-first manoeuvre made through the cut and onto the berth. The Pilot was very professional and we all made a great team.

What a lovely place. Of course Leixoes is the port for Oporto. So, ship clear and away our guests went to explore. A day where I thought we were due for a fair amount of cloud, but no, Mr Blue Sky everywhere. As I may have mentioned previously, it’s good to get it wrong in the right way.

Once we had settled down I, along with my team, reassessed the weather and concluded the best course of action was to indeed sail later. Many of my guests would then be tucked up in bed and, thus, would not feel the ‘Motion of the Ocean’. There was no wind, just a sizeable swell.

All guests were back late afternoon and my conversations with them were marvellous. Not only had they enjoyed their excursions but also walking around the town, down to the fish market and along the coastal sea-path. Sounds nice. I must find the time to do that one day! So much to do and not enough time to do it, where is my life going!

Letting the lines go at 2300, we proceeded out with the assistance of just one tug. Disembarking the pilot in the shelter of the break water, we rounded the breakwater to set course when we took a roll to port. I knew we had a swell out there, but this was more than had been forecast. The thing was to get the ship’s head into the swell and, once head to sea, Sapphire settled down very quickly and pitched easily to a large, but long swell.

This morning, after a hard night’s work by my fabulous team, it is business as usual . That said I am steaming toward Greenland, not because we’re going there, it’s what’s comfortable for the ship. Keeping the swell on the bow, port bow in this case, makes a more relaxing ride for all on-board. Eventually we will find Southampton!

Captain Stuart Horne

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.