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21st May, 2019


Well here we are safe and sound in Gaspe. Yes, correct, we are in the wrong port for the day. Today we were due in Sydney and despite our good fortune with the weather, the forecast for Sydney today was a Gale Force 8, from the north. An impossible direction for the Saga Sapphire to try and navigate down a narrow inlet, let alone try to berth is such wild conditions.

Indeed once clear of the southern point of Newfoundland last night we went through that storm approaching Sydney. The storm was NE bound and we were on a westerly track approaching it from the east. That is to say we were on a collision course with the storm and there was nowhere to hide. At 0300 this morning, as we tracked north of our intended port of Sydney, the storm came through and create quit tumultuous seas – the seas took on a ‘boiling’ effect. The old girl just sailed through it, a bit of rocking here and there, but not a lot to write home about.

However, back tracking with my scribblings about last night’s departure from St John and our hunt for Icebergs. Steaming of the western shore we spotted the familiar glow of an iceberg, it was a beautiful sunny evening making Berg spotting easy. We adjusted course towards the Berg and as we did, more and more came upon the horizon. Navigating with caution and at slow speed we had some incredible ‘sail-by’s close in on some rather large chunks of ice. The decks were packed and the vista really appreciated by the berg-watchers. Some photos attached.

At 1300 this afternoon we entered the Gulf of Gaspe, the sun was bright, but the wind brisk – and that would be a challenge to get alongside for there are no tugs in Gaspe. I opted not to take a pilot, it’s not compulsory for Gaspe arrivals and I always prefer a quieter navigational environment. Many Pilots are very good, but they tend to bring that added dimension of challenge when trying to achieve clarity of thought when there is so much chatter!

Rounding the narrow spit of land I made my approach to Gaspe pier; my abort option was to go to anchor if the wind was too strong. I had planned to line the ship up about 150 meters, parallel to, but off the berth. This would then allow me to use the engines against the wind and slowly set down on to the berth.

As I slowed down, north of the berth, the 25 knots brisk wind just vanished, literally, just stopped. Now I had the challenge to get the ship to go sideways without the wind. We got there in the end, but it was like watching paint dry!

The ship was cleared on arrival and Guest were able to go ashore from 1500. Shuttle buses were laid on, but no tours as our scheduled call was tomorrow when we had a full excursion programme. An overnight in Gaspe for the Saga Sapphire, not entirely sure what there is to do locally, but a great opportunity for some R&R for the crew.

Early night for me.

Captain Stuart Horne

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.