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25th October, 2018

Porto Torres

We were blessed with a great sea-day yesterday as we transited the Western Mediterranean, the picture shows a rather stunning calm sea at sunset. However, I had a niggle in the back of my mind, a bit of a south westerly ‘blow’ was forecasted for late yesterday evening with the knock on effect a, potentially, of an awkward swell running into Alghero and our call at Alghero was an anchor port, using ships Tender to ferry Guests ashore today. Could be tricky.

Looking for options, Porto Torres, north of Sardinia and sheltered from the ravages of the South westerlies, had a berth available, but to make Porto Torres in time to operate the original Shore Excursion program, I needed to act fast. Putting Saga in the picture early yesterday evening, by 1900, I was on passage to the north of Sardinia. I made a ‘head-line’ broadcast at dinner time when most guest were in the restaurants, tucking in, and then updated it with a more detailed reasoning this morning a t0900, because our eta was not until midday today. Broadly, the ‘solution’ was well received, especially as the Gangway was on deck 4 allowing all passengers to go ashore without the challenge of the Tender port operations.

Porto Torres is a first for Saga Sapphire, and me for that matter. It is a relatively simple manoeuvre, but more challenging in the prevailing conditions. The forecast was 12-18kts, by the time I was passing through the breakwater, on a westerly heading is was gusting from the south up to 40Kts. My original plan was to swing north and put the stern into the wind and back down - but we were setting rapidly to the north under the influence of the brisk conditions and therefore I had to change my approach; swinging off the berth and inside the ‘basin’. It’s the long way-round as they say, but in such conditions, I wanted to optimise my margins of safety.

We were parked just after 1300, a little late due to the manoeuvre requirements; however with Nat as my Explore Ashore Manager, he was able to make the Shore Ex schedule work, splendid chap. It was a moderate day weather-wise, breezy with some cloud but dry. I thought we were due for some wet-stuff, but it stayed dry, unlike Gibraltar!

The day ended well, good reviews from our Shore excursion programme and generally, most were happy that we were not operating at an Anchor port!

The Staff Captain drove out this evening. Given our now shorter passage to Naples, we could make the passage running just one engine, but we need two engines to manoeuvre off the berth as well as services of a tug. During the day, the wind had moved from a southerly direction to nearly west, beam on and pinning the ship to the quayside. Using the Tug lifting the stern, we moved off and made a good manoeuvre around the tight-end of the berth and on to the open waters.

In the early hours of the morning we were are due to pass through the Bonifacio Straits, the stretch of water lying between the southern shoreline of Corsica and the north coast of Sardinia. An interesting spectacle as you see both shorelines lit up, one French and the other Italian. Once clear of the Straits, the passage would take us across the Tryrrhenian Sea, bounded by Sardinia, Italy and Sicily.

A leisurely day at sea tomorrow before the hustle and bustle of Naples, the next port on Saturday.

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.