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8th December, 2018


After sailing from Malta yesterday afternoon, we set course, almost retracing our steps back towards the western point of Sicily. The initial sea-conditions were good, perhaps moderate, but by 2000hrs the swell had increased considerably and it was necessary to put out a ‘take-care’ message whilst my guests dined in the serenity of the various restaurants.

At 0400 this morning we were heading East along the North shore of Sicily – passing a port named Trapani, an old haunt of mine; and lovely spot. The weather had freshened considerably and by the time I rounded Mondello, the north shore of Palermo Bay, I was starting to doubt the ability to get the ship into Palermo. It’s a narrow, small port to the West and exposed for Westerlies. Guess what? Yep, we had Westerlies!

Staff Captain was driving this morning and we agreed to hold off outside the port, to properly assess the condition. Even with a tug, it was a tight manoeuvre. Assessing options, I felt that a swing and stern-in manoeuvre could be achieved. As Tom, Staff Captain, approached the breakwaters, divine intervention changed the conditions. Still brisk, but somewhat more manageable conditions prevailed as we entered the ‘swinging’ basin. Berthed at 1030, and would you believe it, the wind dropped, the clouds broke and a hot sun shone through, all in 30 minutes!

The first tour was away promptly. The tour today was a rather special Saga-bespoke event.

After being ‘chained’ to my desk all day, it was time for sailing. The Tours were back and the feedback was really positive. Lifting off the berth at 1800, the Safety Officer, Alen, manoeuvred out of the port; pilot was away by 1830, we set course westwards, back along the north shore of Sicily. The forecast was for a brisk Force 7, however once clear of Marsala, on the west coast of Scilly, the seas were steep, 50knots of wind and the ship started to move about; at least sufficiently for me to do a broadcast to my Guests about taking care moving about the ship.

En-route for La Goulettte, I was having severe doubts about getting the ship into the port, or if I did get in, if we would get out. La Goulettte is not a good port to be weather-bound!

Another early morning tomorrow, so for now, night night….

Captain Stuart Horne

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