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Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs

8th September, 2018

Well, if it is actually mist & rain that many people associate with Wales, then there would be little disappointment today!

It was around 04:30 in the morning, and the Bristol Channel narrowed as we approached our next port of Cardiff. The reason for this somewhat anti-social arrival time was again because of the high tidal range here – today we expect a range of some 11 metres. The channel we must use to gain access to the port entrance and lock has only a charted depth of some 1-2 metres, therefore it is entirely necessary to utilise the height of tide for our transit in and out of here today.

Our next challenge here is the lock leading to the dock area – which is only a few metres wider than that of the dimensions of our ship. With a blustery wind and driving rain, it was just the sort of fun challenge I always look for early on a dark, wet Saturday morning.

We breathed in as we entered the lock at about 05:30 (well, I certainly did – most sensible passengers remained soundly asleep) and then popped out the other side into the docks about half an hour later once we had been raised to the appropriate level. Cruise ship calls to Cardiff are very rare (there were just 6 visits this year, I was told) and so we received a warm welcome from locals alike on the quayside, despite the very Welsh weather.

Next to the docks, the River Taff winds through the city centre and flows into the freshwater lake of Cardiff Bay, where much regeneration has taken place of recent years. Plenty of restaurants and bars occupy the waterfront now, along with the so-called Senedd (I was told this contained a seat for someone in the National Assembly. What a large bottom he or she must have). Cardiff’s immediate outskirts offer lovely green attractions such as Dyffryn Gardens, Llandaff Cathedral and Blaenavon – an historic mining town that is now a World Heritage Site.

Venturing further out of town, for those who so wished, gave passengers the chance to visit Brecon Beacons, Tintern Abbey or Caerphilly Castle. I was subsequently told that it did actually stop raining on the Beacons, giving those who had prepared their cagoules and ponchos for this excursion instead a lovely dry experience. What a nice surprise.

Well, time was nigh for us to depart again later that evening, as the tide was high again. We went back through the narrow lock and into the Bristol Channel, heading west replacing daffodils for fiddles, as our next Celtic stop tomorrow will be Ireland. But not before I finished my freshly-baked Welsh Cakes.

Captain Kim Tanner

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