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24th September, 2019


Morning blog readers, another early morning. This is going to be a bit of a story because the ‘one’ day call in Bordeaux, effectively covers three days for a one day visit!

It was a relatively comfortable run across the Southern seaboards of the Biscay on Monday. We had been working on a 2030 Pilot at Buoy BXA, the Pilot station to enter the estuary for the river Garonne. However, on sailing from La Coruna Denis had up dated his stability requirements and the planned deepest draft of 8.4 meters became 8.6 meters in saltwater, which is 8.81 meters in freshwater. At our designated berth, the ship would be in fresh water, so that extra 20 cms depth is important.

Sailing up, or down, the Garonne we have to do so with the tide. At low water we’d be stuck in the mud, so we had to go with the ‘rising’ tide. Because of our deeper draft, this made our Pilot time later, 2215 at the BXA buoy rather than 2030. As we approached the ‘buoy’ we were advised that we would navigate in under ‘Radar assistance’ until we got to the inner river station, not sure why, but there you go.

Approaching Le Verdon Sur-Mer, coincidentally our Port-of-call after Bordeaux, the Pilot launch raced out to meet us. Embarking the Pilot at just passed midnight we proceeded upstream with a steady depth of water under the keel, allowing for Squat, of about 1 meter. We approached our berth at 0330 at high water, so the ‘flow’ was slack allowing for an easier manoeuvre alongside. Using the tug as a ‘brake’, you know all about that now, we swiftly came down from 10 knots to 4 knots, giving me the ability to us an ‘astern’ movement on my engines, if needed.

All fast at 0440, lots of mooring ropes are required here, the tidal steam gets up to 6 knots on the ebb and pushes the ‘bow’ off the quay, hence lots of string required.

It was another hour of ‘messing’ about with gangway arrangements, to ensure we could provide a safe and secure egress, it took some smart thinking. The tidal range is significant and we needed to change gangway locations frequently, deck 5 to deck 7 and vice-versa, without the assistants of a shore crane. So, it was after 0600 by the time I got my head down. Up again at 0800 for the ‘ship’ opening and morning Broadcasts.

On the bridge at 0800, it was tipping it down and more ‘safety’ arrangements were required before I let the guests go ashore. What a miserable ‘berth’ and place with road traffic Jams to boot. After rounds of the ship, I had a number of meetings to attend, a bit of desk tidying before going to bed early afternoon, as it was another long night ahead.

A catch up with the team of our day in Bordeaux, despite the shuttle bus challenges and traffic jams in town, the rain did clear up a little during the afternoon, reports back was not bad at all. After all, it was a food and wine cruise and that is not affected by the weather. It’s now 0230 Wednesday morning as I pen this blog! We are due to sail at 0330 for Le Verdon, a 3 to 4 hour passage downstream, so I am off to the Bridge for departure preparations.

See you in Le Verdon, or is that Le Verdon sur-Mer?

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.