Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
31st May, 2018
Sun shining brightly but still relatively low in the sky, at 06:00 on Wednesday morning we commenced weaving through the Finnish archipelago of islands in the Gulf of Finland, for some 25 miles towards a new port for us – Kotka.
A small city at the mouth of the River Kymi around 75 miles to the east of Helsinki, this little establishment boasts a strategic location; hence its turbulent history. Over the centuries, the Russians, Swedes and Germans have all had a good stab at possessing it. Now though it is a peaceful, very green place with very strong ties to the sea; Kotka has hosted the famous Tall Ships Race three times now, and its nearby container port is a bustling one, despite being relatively small.
The welcome we received upon arrival was quite something – a full orchestra on the quayside complete with cheerleaders, and flag-wavers. They were clearly excited by our visit. In fact, we were received with such open arms, I decided to stay a little longer and we therefore remained in port a full 24 hours for everyone to make the most of this new destination for Saga.
Today’s tours included an exhilarating RIB adventure (a high speed boat trip whizzing amongst the archipelago of islands), or even a river rafting excursion. For the non-adrenalin junkies, a much more sedate tall ship experience sailing a large century-old barge cruising gently in amongst the islands was offered too. There were the usual city tours and trips to surrounding highlights as well of course - for example an Imperial Fishing Lodge.
We decided to offer some of the crew the chance to hop off the ship and enjoy themselves here too, as there was a large outdoor paint-balling field located nearby. For those unfamiliar with this sport, it involves a lot of running around and hiding, armed with guns filled with pellets of paint. The aim is to avoid becoming splattered with paint; the cleanest participant at the end is the winner. Or something like that. I was delighted when various crew keenly invited me along to join them, however upon reflection I suppose it was probably only so that they could shoot the Captain…
Another fine day passed with clear sunny skies, light winds and unseasonably high temperatures, everyone returning to the ship towards the end of the day to prepare for the evening or head back out again into the town to see what was on offer in the evening here. Unfortunately I did not experience it myself, however some passengers informed me that there was even a nightclub in town called “Captain’s.” Next time, maybe…
The following morning brought another crisp, clear day and we quietly departed our berth at breakfast time, with the ever-keen flag wavers present to see us off too. What a great little spot – we shall be back again, I’m sure!
Captain Kim Tanner
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