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27th October, 2018


After a peaceful voyage across the Tryrrhenian Sea we shaped up for the Naples Pilot. It’s been a few years since I was last here. As we approached the Pilot station, the wind freshened from the south; this would be an ‘off-berth’ wind, not helpful at all having been reassigned to the northern berth at the last minute.

Richard, the Safety Officer, was going to be parking this morning and we went through various options to park the ship. The pilot embarked at 0600 as scheduled and we executed the MPX [Master Pilot Exchange]. This is where we ensure the pilots ‘head’ is in the same space as the Bridge team; this being particularly important when using tugs!

The manoeuvre was agreed, and the expectation was that the one tug would only be used to push the stern towards the quay once swung, against the ever-strengthening wind. Approaching the berth, Richard pushed the bow around to starboard, as the stern came against the wind, she, as she does, stopped. She, by the way, meaning the Saga Sapphire. The tug manoeuvred quickly around to the starboard quarter and pushed the stern on through the wind without losing to much momentum.

Approaching the berth stern-in, we were instructed to ‘park’ with our bow hanging out, way over the pier, when we had 200 meters of clear quayside behind us; of which were not permitted to use. All became clear later, however, with a brisk wind blowing the vessel off the berth, it was a slightly precarious position to be in with so much of the bow handing past the end of the quay. I had every rope available to me out, there was knitting all-over the place!

All moored safely by 0700, the ship was cleared for ‘tour-passengers’ to go ashore. Not an uncommon approach in Italy; it permits, without delay, those on tour to get away, and then, shortly after all passengers and crew are cleared. Mid-morning, a great lumbering truck ferry arrived and ‘dropped’ in astern of the Saga Sapphire, hence the restriction for me to park ‘full berthed’ this morning. The ferry, being a RoRo requires to get her stern ramp onto the quayside, so all forgiven!

The tour options for Naples is quite astonishing and the city a great place, if a little foreboding, to stroll around. However, the long walk through the terminal and absolute cats & dogs weather did not help our experience in Naples!

The wind freshened throughout the day. With a wind blowing the ship off the berth, you would not usually use tugs, the ship tends execute an ‘auto-departure’ where wind blows you clear of the berth; the opposite of ‘park-assist’ I guess. However, with such strong winds, I was wary for the safety of my crew and their ability to manage the mooring lines whilst letting go; therefore I ordered a tug to hold the ship alongside whilst we execute the removal of the knitting.

Once all the mooring lines were ‘gone’, the tug and bow thruster only just held the ship – it was gusting upwards of 40knots. Easing the tug, the ship drifted downwind off the pier and we moved ahead toward the breakwater. The driving out was undertaken by Denis, the Staff Captain.

The pilot had noted the ‘boiling’ conditions of the sea outside the harbour and no sooner had we let go the last mooring rope, he was off the ship; wise idea as there may have been two outcomes; the Pilot getting wet or an over-carry all the way to Messina!

Clear of the port, we set across the Gulf of Naples, before round the west tip of the Isle of Capri then set a SSE’ly along the eastern seaboard of the Tryrrhenian Sea toward Messina Straits. Because we haven’t seen much of the ole ‘current bun’ recently, I have included a sunset on the way across from Sardinia to Naples.

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.