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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

29th April, 2018

Ah, my home town-island, Tenerife…. I used to have a holiday home here, in the south, well just up the hill at Los Cristianos. It always feels familiar coming back to Tenerife.

After a casual stroll across from Gran Canaria we shaped up for the Pilot at 0600, an early one today. Tom, Staff Captain was driving in this morning. Tenerife would be a straight forward arrival, around the breakwater, turn left a bit and park the ship. The challenge Tom had this morning was that there were two darn huge drill-ships parked abreast each other at the entrance to the port thus making a 200 metre navigable channel down to around 75 meters. Now we are 29 meters wide, in a straight-line, but on the swing . . .

Embarking the Pilot at 0600, Tom manoeuvred around the breakwaters, lining her up to slip passed the drill-ships at a slow 3knots, then pushing the bow in toward the quay to line up for the berth, which was immediately after the drill-ships. Fine job, we were alongside as planned, before sunrise. It was nice to be sitting in a warm location, lovely surroundings, and to watch the sun rise from the bridge wing with a good cup of coffee.

Tenerife has so many micro-climates. I was expecting rain at some point today, even thundery, but the cloud base held off up the mountains all day and gave us some fabulous weather.

With all aboard Matt, the Safety Officer, was due to drive out. Interesting manoeuvre with a tight swing inside the harbour, he was looking forward to the exercise. This manoeuvre can be done without the services of a tug in good conditions. To give ourselves a better chance of lifting the stern we moved the ship forward about 100 meters, taking advantage of the ‘kink’ in the berth. On a flat straight quayside I would normally push the bow in to lift the back end to around 22 degrees, perhaps 25 degrees, off the berth. The kink on the Santa Cruz pier runs away from the ship’s heading, allowing up to 40 degree angle between the quay and ship. This is a very useful 15 degrees.

Matt, having let go the mooring lines, pushed the bow in and the stern lifted nicely when, at around 40 meters off the berth, there came the micro-climate wind which just pushed the stern back alongside. She wasn’t going anywhere! I had asked for a tug to be available, so within fifteen minutes we had the Tug bent on aft. The manoeuvre was now a straight forward exercise, lifting the ship bodily off, swinging through 180 degrees and proceeding out past the drill-ships before turning to the south to clear the harbour breakwaters.

The Pilot disembarked at 1710 and a course was set to clear the eastern end of Tenerife before turning north for Funchal. The overnight forecast is good, but there’s a short sea running in from the north that will challenge our speed.

Captain Stuart Horne

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

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