7th November, 2019
Hello Blog followers, this is the Captain with the metal knee, on the Spirit of Discovery, time flies. What a fabulous ship, anyway, more on that later in the cruise.
Why am I here when the Saga Sapphire is my ship, good question. With the Spirit of Adventure coming out next Summer, what a great opportunity for me to learn this ‘class’ of ship, before the SofA comes out. So, here I am doing just this one cruise on the Spirit of Discovery, a great opportunity.
Back to the cruise - this is the Spanish Islands of the Atlantic cruise, our fortnight jaunt down to the Canary Islands, a bit of winter warmth, I hope. Today we were in Lisbon, after an interesting crossing of the Biscay, a little bit lumpy one could say and unfortunately we had to medivac one of our number by Helicopter just as we entered the Biscay. Good news there, the patient is doing well – so the right decision to undertake the helicopter operation.
Arriving off the ‘bar’ this morning, that’s the entrance to the might river Tejo and not premises of enjoyment, at 0600. Why is it called a ‘bar’? This is a sand spit that reaches out from the north bank of the rive into the Atlantic. It is formed by the river depositing silt on the ‘eternal’ outflow of the river. As the silt is deposited, the water over depth clearly decreases and, at low water can become dry, or visible.
Running up the estuary, we turned east toward the inner pilot station of ‘Belem’ tower. It was a beautiful morning, partly cloudy and with the sun rising as we approached the rail and road bridge connecting the two shores of the river. We were to be berthed on the ’old’ cruise berth, which is the most northern of the berths, so a little further up the river than usual. I needed to swing on the flood tide so we would be facing downstream on the berth, a usual practise for parking ships.
The manouver was a combination of handling a traditional ship and a podded ship. Old habits die hard! Anyway, all tucked up for 0745 and by 0830 the Guests were off ashore to enjoy the day.
It was a warm day, 20 Celsius, a slight breeze so very pleasant - certainly a lot warmer than Herefordshire, my home county where Leigh, my lovely lady at home minding the fort, said it was -2 Celsius that morning. Ouch, cold!!
Good feedback from Guests retuning from ashore, Lisbon does have a lot to offer. With ‘all-aboard’ promptly, thank you, we lifted off the berth at 1700 on schedule and retraced our steps of the morning, downstream. Again, the outward passage was marvellous, bit of breeze but into a fabulous setting sun. The open decks were buzzing with Guests.
With the Pilot away shortly after the bridge, home for tea I think, we made our way out of the estuary. Setting a SSWly course we made passage for Funchal, Madeira, one of my favourite Atlantic islands.
A successful day drew to a close.
Captain Stuart Horne
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