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Funchal

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

18th March, 2019

Good evening readers. What a lovely Monday. The day started with landfall off the NE tip of Porto Santo as we approached from the north. Porto Santo is a small Madeiran Island lying 23 miles off Madeira’s north - east shore; then navigating off the island’s southern shore at 0900. The Dover to Funchal sea passage was nearing its conclusion.

Running late due to the Biscay sea conditions, we sailed off the Eastern tip of Madeira. The Sao Lourneco lighthouse, previously a manned outpost, was clearly visible as we passed close abeam at 1100. With generally blue skies and approaching lunch time, the outside decks were filling up with guests to watch our approach - I had broadcast that the Pilot embarkation would be at 1200 - ish.

Deck 9 aft, Veranda was full with Guests enjoying the sail-in - lunch al fresco. It is quite the spectacular arrival; an opportunity that we would not have had if we were on schedule. I mean, who takes an al fresco lunch at ten in the morning?

A light breeze prevailed as we embarked the Pilot and made our approach. I was parking ’bow-in’ this morning. I generally prefer stern -in, but to go ‘stern-in required swinging the vessel which would have consumed more valuable time. Getting alongside with the guests having a great lunch and then getting the tours away, was the priority.

With the Pilot embarked, an old friend I have known for years, at least 25 years in Madeira, we rounded the end of the pier and parked in our ‘usual’ spot in very pleasant conditions. So this is what the ‘sun’ feels like. At 1300 it was a pleasant 21 degrees Celsius. The ship was cleared quickly by the authorities and re-jigged shore-ex timings allowed for an un-hurried lunch onboard before the first tour ashore at 1400. To accommodate the late arrival, and to ensure the team could deliver in particular the Shore Excursion programme, departure was put back to 1900; plenty of time to fulfil the content as well as not impacting upon the evening dining arrangements.

A light drizzle wafted across the harbour early evening but in the main the island remained dry, allowing for a great shore excursion experience. All guests were aboard for 1845 and so departure preparations were completed for 1900, as planned. Adam, the 3rd Officer of the watch, was driving out this evening – on paper a straight forward manoeuvre, in reality, with a brisk NE’ly wind and inappropriately anchored ‘gin-palaces’ dotted around, the manoeuvring clear sea-room was limited.

With the manoeuvre executed, great job Adam, and the Pilot disembarked, we struck out on our southerly track towards the westerly Canary island of La Palma. Good sea conditions and following breeze made for pleasant overnight conditions.

See you in La Palma.

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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