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22nd July, 2018


Our passage across the Biscay started early morning on Friday as we rounded Ushant and with good sea conditions and we raced full speed across the bay. Yesterday morning we rounded Cape Finisterre, the southern end of the Biscay, and by lunch time we were heading south off the Portuguese coast. I had managed the Guests expectation of the weather. Whilst it was still scorching at home, I knew we had two days of dullness with ‘off & on’ drizzle before things would improve.

The crossing was good in terms of sea conditions, but we had the strangest weather event yesterday morning. The evening was cloudy, the early morning was cloudy, I was expecting a dull and damp day, yet at sunrise yesterday we had a two-hour window of spectacular skies and a magnificent sunrise before midmorning blues set in. Picture attached, quite astonishing turn in weather for just two hours.

This morning, the Guests were promised a spectacular ‘sail-in’ to Lisbon with a lovely sunrise on the bow as we would be heading east up the river Tagus, which sadly didn’t quite happen. It wasn’t quite black clouds, but not far off!

However, we went to ‘stand-by’, that means to say engines are ready for manoeuvres, at 0530. The Pilot does not embark until we get up to the Belem Tower, not far from the berth, and that was scheduled for 0700. The reason why we ‘get-ready’ so early is that we have to navigate up and along the sandbar, a very narrow entrance to the River Tagus and you need to be ready for the ‘unplanned’ events.

I was sailing in this morning, with the river on full flood so I would be using the flood stream to turn the ship onto the berth. We had a great berth in Lisbon, right in the old town and within walking distance from the quay. Text book manoeuvre, though I say myself, but then who’s going to say otherwise; apart from jocular comments from the bridge team… they like to keep me on my toes!

Berthed at 0800, ample time before the scheduled arrival of 0830, the ship was cleared quickly and ‘Andy & Nats’ shore excursions were on their way. By 1000, the sun was finally out and the skies were blue and then, of course, it got really hot! Don’t you love us Brits, too cold, too hot, leaves on the line!

Departure time came around quickly and Chris, my 4th officer, was driving out. All aboard by 1715, we slipped the moorings and moved out into the Tagus. Passing under the road bridge that connects the city of Lisbon to Almada on the south side; we disembarked the Pilot at 1800. Another two hours later saw us navigate down the Tagus and into the open sea.

A day at sea tomorrow as we pass through the Gibraltar Straits and on toward Cartagena.

Captain Stuart Horne

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