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30th April, 2018


Overnight we struggled for speed, the wind and swell were against us, so when I wrote my Night Orders for the Bridge navigators at 2200 last night we were a full one hour behind schedule. However, I was hopeful that in the early hours the wind would lessen and we would pick up speed. So on my early morning call with my Bridge team, at 0500, I was pleased that the Chief Officer, Andrew, advised me we were just 20 minutes or so behind. The ship had sped up in the improving conditions overnight.

The great benefit of these mid-morning arrivals is that our Guests are all up and about, have had a leisurely breakfast, and can enjoy the arrival vista. What a vista is afforded when approaching from the south in to Funchal. The marvellous backdrop of the mountains reaching into the sky, painted with houses and roadways etched into topography. It was a most pleasant morning, but with some rain forecast.

But the good news is that we embarked the Pilot on time at 1000, that was quite a success I felt. The Pilot was a regular, I’ve known him for donkeys years and we always have a good chinwag once we are tied up. Slipping past the eastern end of the breakwater, I popped the stern through west and backed onto our berth. Text book if I may say... good job as we had quite an audience, breakfast was over!

All secured, the gangway in, two gangways in fact, and the ship cleared on arrival, thank you Jane. Today we were able to rig both the Deck 5 and Deck 4 gangways which would aid embarkation in the evening. One of our most popular tours would be returning just before we sailed, so two gangways would help the process of getting my weary travellers back on-board.

And as for that forecast of rain, well it didn’t. Indeed we had some lovely periods of sunshine.

After a pleasurable day it was time to head home, to go and find our winter home-port of Southampton. All tours were back on time, and with two gangways we rapidly re-embarked everyone.

Carl, the 3rd officer, was driving out this evening. Driving ships is never easy, even when it looks easy. Because we had parked so far in the corner of the harbour there was no room to cant out the stern by pushing ‘in’ the bow. No room and no navigable water, so Mighty Mouse, probably the smallest harbour tug in the world, was utilised to lift the stern.

Lifting the ship bodily off, Carl used the bow thruster to balance stern keeping parallel with the pier. Once far enough off, and with clear water ahead, Carl kicked ahead on both main engines. Sliding out of Funchal harbour , the Pilot debarked and we set course for the north end of the Biscay, at Ushant, a passage of 1100 nautical miles and it looks like we are going to have a splendid day at sea tomorrow.

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.