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10th September, 2019


The overnight passage was busy, I feel I have been up all night, oh I have!

We were running late due to the number of ‘pilotage’ change outs we had to execute overnight and my desire to have more ‘daylight’ for transiting the narrows at 0430 this morning. Pitch-black in confined waters makes me a little uncomfortable, regardless of how may ‘electronic’ aids we have, they are only aids and you cannot beat the reality of the eyeball.

As things go this arrival time for Narvik was crucial to get in on time because one of the tours included a scheduled public train service and the train would go regardless of Saga Sapphire Guests being on the train or not. Staffy Captain Denis was driving in this morning, so he was under pressure. Whilst a ‘straight-in and park’ manoeuvre he did require to position the ship rather carefully due to the awkward angle of approach and the non-availability of tug services.

We were indeed, 35 minutes late alongside however the ‘smooth-talking’ Explore ashore manager, Leo, managed to re-jig the tour content to allow the ‘train’ bit of the tour to be done on-time and the rest of the content completed later in the experience. So, all happy, I think!

The weather held all day, cloudy but dry with the fresh snow looking quite stunning as a backdrop to the town. The Guests returning from ashore appeared pleased with their experience in Narvik.

Sailing out tonight was the Safety Officer, Kirill. Whilst the weather conditions were good, it was impossible to lift the Sapphire stern off the berth sufficiently to find safe water astern, so a Tug was ordered. With the Guests back at 1700, Kirill started his slow manoeuvre, using the tug aft and the bow thruster forward, moving the ship parallel off the berth, before swing the bow to the north to exit the bay. The route out was the same as coming in this morning, congested! I forgot to mention that the other ‘barrier’ to a speedy arrival, and departure for that fact, was an anchored vessel constricting navigable water requiring us to ‘slip’ between this anchored vessel and a mega-bulk carrier vessel alongside. A fabulous spectacle for the Guest, a bit of ‘breath-in’ for the ship.

It was a pleasant sail-out dropping the pilot at Lodingen station, before commencing our south-westerly passage inside the Lofoten islands at 2130.

The forecast was to be a little lumpy and once in the open waters the angry conditions were quite a spectacle at full speed - the attached picture depicts the romance of a cruise ship under full way in stormy, but comfortable conditions. I was off to say ‘hi’ to my guests then off to bed.

A day sea tomorrow so a ‘desk-clearing’ day, or is that an email-clearing day?

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.