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3rd August, 2018


It was a weary start this morning. Whilst the Pilot was not due until 0745, the approach through the traffic from the east is very busy and lots of VHF broadcasts ‘keep clear, keep out of my way’, such is the standard of some shipping companies today. I had my ‘cockerel call’ call at 0445 and was on the bridge for 0530 - a good strong coffee first thing is always a delight! As I walked onto the bridge wing, I could smell the weather, fog was not far away.

Within ten minutes we were in a pea-souper, couldn’t see a thing. Gibraltar Port were reporting ‘all-clear’ in the Bay, so at least I’ll be able to see where I was due to park. We reduced speed and went in very slowly, have you noticed how much we do slowly? It’s a thing on the Saga Sapphire. Treat her nice and she’ll not bite you!

The Pilot came out early whilst the visibility was about 50 meters when the Pilot embarked, it took him a while to find us, bump - hello! As I discussed the berth approach plan, under fog conditions, it started to clear and hey pesto, there was Gibraltar! I do have a guardian angel.

It was a bit of a shimmy here and there to wind our way through the anchored vessels - it’s always busy in Gibraltar Bay. Berthed in good time at 0830, plenty of time for our Guests to make their way ashore. Morrisons seem to be popular with the crew here. The day tuned out to be hot, I was expecting more cloud, but once the sun was up - it became very warm indeed.

I managed to slip ashore here, unusual for me to get off, always seem to be chained to my desk or looking out for my flock & ship. Why did I go ashore here? Well, I do enjoy a cigar, a good cigar. I smoke around ten a year and Cubans are my favourite; Cohiba’s and Monte Cristo Habana’s go for a good price in Gib. After a couple of hours ashore, with my ‘purchase’ in hand, I was back aboard. Gibraltar is the last port of call on this cruise and it was a great port to finish on.

All Guests back aboard and ready for the next three days at sea, we prepared for departure. The Chief Officers changed over here, Emmeline going home and Richard joining. Richard has been on Sapphire previously, but his last tour of duty was on the Pearl II.

Being fresh back, I thought I would give Richard the chance of driving out of Gibraltar, to get back into the ‘swing’ of things. As I talked through the manoeuvre, it is never as easy as you think, the Pilot questioned why such a plan? Letting go the ropes, Richard followed the plan we discussed and you could see the Pilot slowly realise how tricky it can be to play with Saga Sapphire, without tugs. Having swung off the berth the Pilots closing comment was “you earn your money here Captain”!

With the Pilot off and the ship heading south out of the bay through the traffic I asked Richard how he found the manoeuvre, “different from the Saga Pearl II” he said. Always good to broaden your experience was my reply. The picture of the bridge team has Joey, the Quartermaster, at the helm and Richard with his hands on the engine control.

Clear of Gibraltar Straits we set a NW’/y course for the SW tip of Portugal to start our voyage home. See you in Dover.

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.