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Corfu

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

29th October, 2018

Yesterday should have been Messina as scheduled stop. However, the weather proved to be beyond the abilities of the Saga Sapphire. Approaching the Messina Pilot station, which is north of the Straits of Messina, the wind was brisk and forecast to increase in squally. This was local information made available to me when I went on to the Navigation bridge at 0400 this morning and requested a weather update. Rounding Cape Peloro, NE tip of Scilly, at 0600, I embarked our Messina Pilot.

Closing on to Messina port entrance at 0645, a squall came through with winds gusts record at 63 knots, that the best part of a Gale Fore 12. I elected to stall for a time and see if the weather passed through and in the meantime arranged for two tugs to assist with manoeuvres. At one point the Saga Sapphire was moving sideways in the weather more than moving ahead - but all under control. With squall after squall coming through, Messina became untenable and I ordered the tugs to be let go and I aborted the Port.

Cleary I was disappointed to drop a port, but, as I learnt on the News later, Italy had a really rough 24 hours with high winds and huge downpours of rain resulting in flooding and loss of life. That afternoon, after, disembarking the Messina Pilot at 0930, we rounded the toe of Italy and adopted an Easterly heading before crossing the southern Adriatic on our way to Corfu.

Rounding the south of Corfu at 0400 this morning and into the calm of the waterway between the Islands east coast and the Greek western shores; it had been a moderately bumping crossing during the night, we adopted a northerly passage. The target time to be alongside was for 0700, 5 hours ahead of the schedule. The Pilot came out very late and as I approached the berth; the Pilot appeared on the bridge and proceeded to advise me that the berth had changed. Re-assessing the approach and strategy for berthing; using the wind I manoeuvred the ship through the harbour entrance full-on sideways. Swinging the bow into the wind I then dropped back down on to our berth.

All the knitting was out and the ship secured by 0730, a great job by the mooring teams to get the ropes out so quickly under such conditions. The conditions were squally and rather wet, indeed, the downpours were flooding our opened decks - we had, perhaps, one of the largest cruise ship swimming pools around!

Tomorrow, Sarande, that’s another story already whirling around in my head. Solutions needed in such conditions. By the way, the photograph of the Saga Sapphire in port is exactly between squall, the cloud-line rather tells the story.

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.

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