18th December, 2019
Racing at almost full speed overnight westwards through the English Channel, Saga Sapphire found herself at daybreak in the Bay de Seine, heading south-eastwards towards Le Havre and the Seine basin.
Pleasingly (as I can’t recall when it last happened…) the sun was shining this morning, despite a relatively fresh wind blowing from land. Our local pilot boarded as we negotiated the entrance channel, and in a chatty manner notified us of all the strikes going on in the port. Welcome to France!
We passed the outer breakwaters before then the narrower inner ones, before almost immediately being on top of our berth, requiring both engines to go astern in order not to overshoot. Just after 10:30 we made fast alongside, about half an hour ahead of schedule which is always pleasing.
Today would see the vast majority of our guests heading inland to Rouen, where there was……yes you guessed it – a Christmas Market! Yes, this stunning medieval city also transforms parts of its centre during these months with additions of marquees, ice rinks, and mulled wine vendors to comply with the Christmas norm.
I remained safely on board during our stay in Le Havre – those more loyal blog readers might recall the last time I visited Rouen on Saga Pearl my life was almost brought to an early end on a number of occasions due to encounters with French drivers whilst on my bicycle. Instead, I elected to partake in the much safer sounding task of reviewing risk assessments. Didn’t quite result in the same adrenalin rush, needless to say…
However, for those wishing to stay local and pop off in Le Havre, there is still plenty to see and do – despite it being so vehemently bombed throughout WW2. Alternatively, the beautiful town of Honfleur is not far away either, and that is well worth a visit, trust me. You might even be lucky enough not to be subjected to gigantic booming Christmas Markets here, either…
Well, darkness fell early as it tends to do at this merry time of year, signalling time to return to the ship for the final night of our festive-themed cruise. The wind had picked up and was now blowing a good Force 7-8 outside, which resulted in Captain muggins here having to conduct serious negotiations with some non-striking French tugboat crews in order to secure towage assistance to extract us from our berth and swing the ship short-round in the harbour before sailing back out into the Channel.
A short hop northwards would see us arriving back in Southampton again where Captain Horne will be waiting, his blog-writing fingers at the ready, to take over command of Saga Sapphire for the time being whilst I head off for my holidays.
So until I return, happy cruising and happy blog-reading!
Captain Kim Tanner
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