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13th September, 2019


Here we are at Stavanger, day two, yes a change to the itinerary. Here’s the story. Having crossed back-over the Article Circle on Wednesday, wow, that was four days ago, we continued south. By the way, lots of fun on the crossing the Article circle Blue-nose ceremony was loads of fun, you don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps! During that day, Wednesday, the forecasts were worsening. I was expecting a ‘blow’ but nothing to write home about, perhaps 30 knots and 2.5 meters seas. It wasn’t, at that time, so much the sea-conditions but what the wind was like at Kristiansund that was in the back of my mind. Kristiansund was a tricky little harbour that required navigation through extremely narrow channels, yes, more than one, with no ‘get-out’ options. Once in, you had to make it work!

At 0530 on the Thursday morning, off Kristiansund, I embarked the pilot, to the north of Trondheimsleia, the out waterway before heading up toward Trondheim - not that we were going to Trondheim. The wind was now from the west and squalling up to 55knots. I felt obliged to go and have a ’look’ at Kristiansund, you never know, the squalls could dissipate.

Sitting off the island of Kristiansund, I discussed at length with my team various options, as the wind eased to 35 knots, and the risk of attempting to make an entry into the wider channel, let alone the narrower channels. The final gust of wind, recording over 60knots, was the clincher; Kristiansund was off the menu. Negotiating the confined waters, I manoeuvred to disembark the pilot. With the Pilot off at 0815, I was able to start thinking about the ‘days’ plan and next port, and how to get there comfortably. The delivery team, Jemma, Alfred and Abram huddled together and hatched the ‘Today’ plan. Many guests would be disappointed at not getting into Kristiansund.

It was about 0830 by the time I updated the guests, my mind had been ‘elsewhere’. I had plenty of scope to set the ships ‘heading’ to make the ship more comfortable whilst we made passage for Stavanger; the plan being to get there at noon, one day early. The Stavanger forecast was not fantastic and there is one very narrow passage to deal with, however, it should be in the lee of the natural harbour; so I was comfortable at that point.

Having zig-zagged my way down the Norwegian sea, to make the ship more comfortable, at 1030 yesterday I shaped-up for the Pilot boarding grounds off Stavanger. Due to the rough swell, the Pilot declined to embark at the stated station and I was required to navigate further to the east and embark.

Overnight I had ordered a tug to use as a break, I’ll explain later, but once the Pilot was onboard it was confirmed the tug was not available until 1330. So I spent several hours ‘stooging’ around waiting for the tug with the full bridge team and technical teams on stand-by. A lot of man-hours, indeed, the Pilot to berth time was close to 6 hours rather than the usual two hours.

Eventually the tug caught up with us, having come from Haugesund[!], and we made our way down towards our berth. Now then, tugs and brakes? For the Saga Sapphire to have an effective rudder, to control her direction, you need to be a 4 or 5 knots speed or faster. In higher wind conditions the ship sets, or drifts, on the wind, quite literally and you need more speed to maintain direction. The problem with speed is stopping distance and distance is in short supply in Stavanger. The heavy ole Saga Sapphire doesn’t stop that fast. So, in such conditions, I use a tug tied to the back-end of the ship and I get the tug to pull astern, hence, slowing down the ship.

The final bit, the berthing manoeuvre was executed by Kirill, the Safety Officer. This was his first arrival, arrivals require so much more planning and thinking than departures, its all about speed control and approach.

Anyway, we were alongside at 1400 yesterday, nice job Kirill and, Leo the Explore ashore manager, had manged to arrange a tour yesterday afternoon. So, not all was lost and it was better to be alongside than bouncing around outside. It was a pleasant overnight stay; dinning in the peace and quiet of a tranquil port is very pleasing; oddly, often better than being at sea.

So here we are, outbound Stavanger - did you keep up with the story?!

It was a rather wet day today, indeed it was frequently ‘cat & dogs’. I took the ship out this evening as I had negotiated and inside ‘time-passage’ to allow the Farewell Cocktail Party and dinner to be got underway, avoiding the risk of slips, trips and falls, before getting back out into the bumpy briny. I had a very interesting Captains table tonight, but I have told all my Guests to get to bed early, whilst we break through the storm out in the North sea overnight tonight. It was not going to be comfortable!

On our way to Dover, up and down, bash and crash!

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.