Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
25th May, 2018
Another sunny day in Dover marked the start of our next adventure – into the Majestic Baltic this time. With everyone on board happily eaten their afternoon tea we prepared to depart our berth and head into the English Channel. On the aft deck, as we swung around in the harbour next to one of those enormous blocks of flat cruise ships on the adjacent berth, passengers enjoyed a glass of bubbly in the afternoon sun whilst listening to the Saga showband playing their sail-away songs.
Overnight on our starboard side we cruised past France, followed by Belgium, Holland and finally into German waters late the following morning. Yet another glorious sunny day, just after lunch time, we embarked our local pilot who would assist us up the outer part of the river Elbe towards the town of Brunsbuttel and the western end of the Kiel Canal entrance. Today was not a day of German efficiency though unfortunately, and there was a queue to enter the Canal. Subsequently we were asked to go and anchor nearby and await our turn.
A few hours later we received our entrance slot, and into the locks we went at about 20:00, just as everyone on board was enjoying their supper (except for the Captain…). Through the lock half an hour later, we would then spend all night peacefully transiting the canal at about 8kts, before reaching the other end – the Kiel / Holtenhau lock – at around 06:00. We popped out into the Baltic Sea and continued on our merry way away from Germany and towards Poland, throughout the next day and overnight.
Yet another beautiful sunrise brought Friday in, as we approached the channel marking our entrance into Gdansk port. This was a first time for me here, so you can imagine my relief to note as we entered the river a large sign announcing “Gdansk” on the banks, thus indicating that we had at least found the correct port. Nicely tied up on the side of the Motlawa River by 08:00, everyone was then free to go ashore and enjoy their day.
A healthy choice of excursions ashore were laid on today, ranging from cathedral tours to private steamboat cruises. There were the usual city sightseeing tours offered, and even a trip Stutthof Concentration Camp - a stark reminder of the past - opened on the second day of WW2 and the first camp outside Germany.
I decided to wander into town to see the sights and was overwhelmingly surprised by the picturesque old town, it being for some reason a lot nicer than I expected. I tried to find a local restaurant to sample some authentic Polish food, however Gdansk seems to be obsessed with Italian food, and everywhere as far as the eye could see were pizzerias. So I settled for one of these instead and tried the duck – which stood out as the only non-Italian dish on the menu. I was also pleasantly surprised by this, however judging by the amount of ducks swimming around the river nearby I supposed it was probably a locally authentic & fresh dish…
Late afternoon came about and it was time to leave, and the sun which had blessed us throughout the day turned quickly into a nice big thunderstorm and the heavens opened, just as I had to go out onto the open bridge-wing and manoeuvre Saga Pearl II back out of the river. This is what we refer to in nautical terms as ‘Murphy’s Law.’ But looking at the forecast it seemed that we would not be short of sunshine in the days to come, so it was with this positive thought that we headed off towards our next port of Tallinn, in Estonia.
Captain Kim Tanner
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