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Spirit of Discovery blog

Santa Cruz de La Palma

14th January, 2020

To introduce myself, I am Andy the Ships Safety Officer.

I have worked for Saga for three and a half years, joining Saga Pearl II as Chief Officer in July 2016 having previously worked on cargo ships trading worldwide. I have been permanent Safety Officer since July 2018. I have also sailed on Saga Sapphire as Chief Officer and Safety Officer and look forward to joining her in April, and sailing on her farewell voyage. I am on my second trip on Spirit of Discovery having completed the inaugural cruise and first two months in service.

As Safety Officer I am responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all the Lifesaving Appliances (LSA) and Firefighting Equipment (FFE) on board, with the help of the 3rd Officer’s Will and John and my Safety Carpenter. This includes all eight lifeboats, two rescue boats, our Marine Evacuation Systems and life rafts, as well as all of the firefighting equipment from the hoses and fire extinguishers to the fireman’s outfits and breathing apparatus, and over 600 fire doors to name just a few.

I also plan and run all of the drills and training for the crew with regards to their emergency duties.

This morning started at a very reasonable hour today, with arrival scheduled for 09:00. Instead of my usual arrival position in charge of the aft mooring station, I was on the bridge for Stand-by Engines at 07:45 as ‘Operations Director’, in charge of the communications between the Bridge and mooring stations, and keeping an overview of Staff Captain Franko’s arrival manoeuvre.

After arrival I assigned the weekly and monthly LSA and FFE maintenance tasks to my small team, before preparing for a training session with our Port Side Lifeboat Crews, where we lowered the boats to the embarkation deck and checked all of the equipment on board. Apologies to anyone who may be reading and had to take a detour whilst walking their lap of the Promenade Deck as we lowered and recovered the boats.

In the afternoon, between doing paperwork and answering emails, we conducted one of our required monthly drills, an Emergency Steering Gear Drill, operating our azipod propulsion systems from their local control positions in the Pod Rooms, simulating a malfunction of the main steering controls.

After our Emergency Steering Gear Drill, I managed to get ashore for a quick run in the late afternoon, doing about 5km along past the beach and back to the ship. It is always nice to get ashore for some rest and relaxation, especially in the Canaries when it is still nice and warm, with temperatures in the low 20’s C like it was today.

The Captain very kindly offered to let me ‘drive’ Spirit of Discovery for the first time during departure from La Palma this evening, under his and Staff Captain Franko’s watchful eyes. Luckily the wind had died down nicely by 8pm from the fresh breeze experienced during the day, which would have made my first manoeuvre a bit more interesting. Spirit of Discovery is a bit of a change from Saga Pearl II or Saga Sapphire where I had become comfortable manoeuvring the vessels.

Once we had let go all of our lines, I was able to thrust off the berth using one azipod and the bow thrusters before backing up past the breakwater using the other azipod. When we were clear of the breakwater and the Pilot had disembarked I swung the bow to starboard using the bow thrusters and pointed the bow East towards Santa Cruz de Tenerife, handing over the Con to John the 3rd Officer and Steve the Chief Officer on the 8-12 watch. A relatively simple manoeuvre but a good one to get under my belt, with hopefully more opportunities to come.

Andrew Makinson, Safety Officer

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.