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16th July, 2018

La Pallice

Long night last night, or this morning! We finally left the berth in Bordeaux at just after 2100 last night, once the crane driver arrived to remove the gangway. The evening started pleasantly as we slipped quietly downstream out towards the Biscay; however, storm clouds could be seen on the horizon and lightening threatened!

What a magnificent sunset, not because of the cloudless skies, but because of the mood of the angry clouds with the sun-burst effects as the darkness grew. The open decks were thronged by post-dinner Guest out enjoying the balmy conditions and the spectacle of the view, but that was to change. Then, before midnight the heavens broke with enormous repeated thunderclaps, lightning bolts so bright is was dazzling and then a ferocious rain storm and winds of over 60konts. I thought I was in a Monsoon in Asia, not on a river in France! Needless to say, my warrior weather-carefree guests didn’t stay out on deck for long. An hour or so later, it all subsided to leave a fresh cool feel to the air.

The attached photograph is at about 2215 last night coming downstream the river from Bordeaux, an hour before the storm materialised. A beautiful evening until that point.

I disembarked the pilot just before 0200 his morning, yes, it was a long passage as we shaped up on a northerly course, heading toward La Pallice. My head hit my pillow like a ton of bricks, out for the count! The La Pallice Pilot was due at 0830, so I booked myself a wake-up by the Officer of the Watch call at 0700, and wow, 0700 came around quickly.

On the bridge this morning with my navigation team, the day was fabulous, blue skies, calm seas and glorious sunshine. The arrival manoeuvre this morning fell at the feet of my Safety Officer, Andy. The Pilot embarked at 0830 and Andy shaped the ship up for the arrival. It was necessary to swing the ship so we would be Portside alongside. The weather was fine, so no tug required. A slow steady and well calculated manoeuvre had the ship alongside by 0930. Gangway in, ship cleared on arrival, we were ahead of schedule. A busy few days!

The berth was a ‘working’ berth, but well situated for La Rochelle, just a few miles away. But on the west side, we had an idyllic view the ‘Ilse de Re’, a lovely island, described by the Pilot as a little St Tropez. It was a lovely stay, although the wind freshened somewhat this afternoon. The returning Guests from tours appeared to have really enjoyed themselves and those that popped in to La Rochelle, loved it.

Chris my 4th Officer was charged with sailing us out this evening. With a brisk on berth wind a tug was required and the simple ‘lift’ off the berth transpired to be a bit trickier than planned, with a bit ‘see-sawing’ employed to move the ship away from the berth but it was a huge learning opportunity for Chris. Safely off the berth we proceeded south to clear the shallows, disembarking the Pilot at 1945, then right-hand down a bit and into the setting sun.

A day at sea tomorrow and Farewell cocktails. Feet-up time now for me!

Captain Stuart Horne

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