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23rd April, 2018


An advantage to this itinerary is that with the Islands in close proximity to each other, we have the opportunity to play around with the Port rotation. This it became necessary to do as we needed to disembark one of our passengers. Generating a raft of options, the best was to divert to Lisbon and therefore make Lisbon our first port of call instead of our last one.

Jane, the Chief Purser, got underway talking to our Agents, berthing permissions, clearance Pilot services and so forth, whilst Nat, the Shore Ex manager put together the programme of activities ashore. Michelle, Cruise Director, restructured the Entertainment and once all was agreed, the daily paper “Today” was printed and delivered. What a great team.

So, this morning, we made our way over the ‘Bar’ at the entrance to the river Tejo. I’ll explain ‘Bar’ a little later. We pushed on up to Belem Tower where we embarked the docking Pilot at 0700 and were berthed by 0745.

It was a glorious day, and I was threatening the team that we would go into whites. It was 35 degrees in the shade, a corker of a day. Certainly the feedback from our passengers was very good indeed.

All tours were back more or less on schedule, and we were ready for departure. Hugo, our Portuguese 2nd Officer, had the honour of driving out this evening. It’s a bit of a ‘kudos’ thing - driving a cruise ship out of your home City. I wonder if I could get Saga Sapphire up to Gloucester docks, it being my home city!

It was a lovely Sailaway, fine weather and spectacular views. Passing under the bridge and debarking the pilot, we made our navigation along the river Tejo and out to sea, passing the Bar at a little after 1900.

So what is a ‘Bar’, other than a watering hole for weary travellers? I have include a chartlet of the river Tejo from the ‘Bar’ to our berth. Our berth is just pass the Bridge at Almada. The Bar is a submerged spit of land, if I can call it that. Often the Bar is formed where there is an eternal outflow of water, such as a river. The entrance to the river is essentially ‘created’ by the movement of water, not only by dredging the entrance on the ebb tide, but also by depositing silts on the ‘Bar’ on the floodtide. Why do we have to be cautious about ‘Bars’? Tidal flow is always a concern, local currents that are strong, particularly on an Ebb tide. In addition, if there is a sea-swell running across the river entrance, the swell, over the bar, can become quite pronounced.

Tutorial over - have a great evening.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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