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Spirit of Discovery blog


9th November, 2019

A moderately comfortable run down to Madeira yesterday with the swell on the starboard quarter and a following fresh breeze at 30knots. At least it was a following wind.

It was a good day from me as I became more aware and embedded into how the ship operates and what a joy to start to get to know the new staff, new to me anyway! I do like the way the Spirit of Discovery is laid out, you get that ‘small’ ship feel whilst having spacious, light and airy public rooms where 950 Guests just disappear. There is so much room and so many spaces to go and do ‘your thing’, it’s great. Love the furnishings too, they remind me of my old ship Canberra, similar furnishing, very retro – right up my street. Yes, I am that old!

Anyway - we now bumping our way across to Tenerife after a fabulous day in Funchal. The Funchal pilot embarked late at 0730, that’s another story. We approached from the Northeast with a back drop of orange-ish shore lights depicting the shore line and the mountainous reaches of the topography. It’s a lovely arrival here, in daylight or darkness. It was actually twilight as we approached the Pilot station where no Pilot was to be seen. After telephone calls with the Agent and eventually directly with the Pilot station, I found someone to speak to. We weren’t expected until 0900, with a 0800 Pilot. A communication error between the Agent and Pilot, these things happen and frequently recoverable as was today.

To save time, and because of my knowledge of the port, ease of arrival and with the blessing of the Harbour Master I crept past the break water and lined the ship up to approach the berth stern-first and awaited the Pilot. You can hold the Spirit of Discovery in one spot, I love this new toy!

The Pilot came, on the bridge, ah, my old friend. I have known Hugo for years, splendid chap. Now here’s the benefit of friends, changing the berth. I had liaised with the harbour as to the availability of the northern berth, its right in town. Our usual and assigned berth was out on the far end of the outer breakwater; that’s a shuttle bus ride to the security gate and not particularly pleasing to the eye. The Harbour had sanctioned the change of berth, but it was subject to agreement with the Pilot as we had not been on this berth previously. Hugo, the Pilot was not at all concerned at the change of berth and despite being late in the port, we were berthed bang on at 0800, as scheduled. It took another fifteen minutes to rig the gangway and be ready to disembark our eager guests, so you could argue we were 20 minutes, or so, late. If the brochure says 0800, that means to me that at 0800, the ship, in all respects is ready to let landlubbers go ashore and enjoy the port of call.

It was another lovely day, a little cloud but in the main, sunny. Once again, great feedback about the Explore Ashore options, well done Nat, and for the independents, they loved being ‘in town’. The day drew to a close and it was time to make a bee-line for Tenerife; a high speed passage was required for the 0900 Pilot time tomorrow.

It’s a simple manoeuvre out of Funchal, lift and shift, foot down and head south! Busy night to night, lots of entertaining to do… so see you in Tenerife.

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.