20th May, 2019
Well, the good news is we got into St Johns!
Just before I committed to the ‘narrows’ entrance I almost, almost aborted. The entrance is 65 meters wide, the ship is 29 meters wide - with the wind blowing on the beam at 45 knots, we would set at about 15 degrees making our ‘swept’ width the best part of 80 meters, ouch, we would be to wide. Of course, the amount of ‘set’ you have is driven by your speed - the faster you go the less set. Unfortunately, the distance from the narrows to the berth was only half a mile; going in through the narrows at 10 knots and trying to stop before hitting the berth, 10 knots to zero in half a mile, well that does not happen on the Saga Sapphire. As I approached the wind shifted from the beam to almost right ahead and dropped to 20 knots making my swept beam around 40 meters. Comfy then, 15 meters to spare!
Now the fun started. Given the windy conditions, I had ordered two tugs, both to push the Saga Sapphire into a narrow parking slot against a brisk wind. Coming inside the beautiful natural harbour, with minutes to the berth, the two tugs appeared, tugs, more like rowing boats!. They were in fact ‘workboats’. A good tug for the Saga Sapphire would have minimum of 30 tons bollard pull, these workboats, combined, would have about 1 ton bollard power. Hmm! A change of strategy required, although a little bit of being between ‘a rock and a hard place’ sprung to mind. One option was to put the bow to wind and hold-off and re-asses allowing the wind to ease or to make my way back out of the harbour, aborting the port of call.
Thinking out loud my possible options, few that they were, and sharing with my Navigation team, the wind started to ease and I concluded to make an approach, let’s give it a go. Not quite sure whom was looking over my shoulder, but as I approached the berth, scrapping past the other berthed vessels, the wind dropped to 15 knots. Now were in ‘doable’ country.
Alongside on time at 0800, it took an age for the vessel to be cleared by the authorities. First Canadian call and all that stuff; it must have been 0845 before we were allowed to send our Guests ashore.
It was a pleasant day, if not a little damp, and I had the joy of meeting up with two Newfy’s. I used to have Newfoundland dogs, two in fact, named BBD [Big Black Dog] and Branston, because he was the colour of Branston Pickle, super gentle giants and very protective of children. The day drew to an end and it was time to leave this land of really truly lovely people.
The Chief Officer, Kirill, was driving out this evening. Whilst a straight forward manoeuvre, it required the patience of ‘watching paint dry’. Once clear of the narrows outward, I went on the hunt for Ice-bergs, having promised my Guests that I would conjure this vista at some point during this cruise…
Its early evening and we haven’t found any yet.
Captain Stuart Horne
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