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14th June, 2012


Our new lady is not exactly a light weight, and at 37,000 tonnes she needs to be treated with a great deal of respect when it comes to manoeuvring. So when it came to departing from Dover on a windy June afternoon two tugs had been ordered to assist with the undocking. The trainee pilot, an ex Royal Navy chap used to driving fast grey vessels, gave us a somewhat amusing thirty minutes of trying to emulate his previous experiences. The theory was perfect and the efforts made by the two tugs, ferociously straining from bow and stern, first to one side and then the other, made for a spectacular display of foaming water, flashing paint work and over generous horse power.

Eventually, with the entertainment over, we left the white cliffs behind and headed north. The sea passage was without incident and we arrived off the Norwegian coast with the north westerly wind still a tad on the blustery side, and blowing directly into the small inner harbour of Stavanger, which we were to share with three other larger passenger vessels. A second tug was ordered to ensure we did not proceed further than the quay wall, into the shallows ahead or closer than hailing distance of the others. There was little room for error, and so, with far less huff and puff, we berthed in a somewhat more lady like fashion than our previous departure.

It was a chilly day, but the sun came out in the late morning making it feel just that little bit warmer and allowing us beautiful views across the fjords towards the mountains. The tours all managed to get away in time despite the initial slope of the shore gangway, which required a certain degree of Alpine knowledge, climbing poles and crampons until we had re-sited it into our lower ‘tradesmen’s entrance’ on deck four. Behind us the other ‘icebergs’ managed to block the view and, I presume, disgorge their thousands into that side of town. No doubt the shopkeepers were smiling a little more broadly.

Our departure was delayed for thirty minutes while the last of the chrome and plastic leviathans backed off and turned, and even she, with all her thrusters and manoeuvrability, was using two tugs. They all headed out to sea while we headed up towards the north taking the more spectacular inside route where our air draft allows us to pass under the 40 meter high bridges. We passed Kopervik and Haugesund in beautiful evening sunlight before heading out into the southern Norwegian Sea.

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