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18th July, 2013


After picking the pilot up a little down the coast at 0630 we arrived in Sandefjord at 0900, with the sun shining and the winds abating to allow for a smooth operation coming alongside the berth.

As chance would have it, it also happened to be a special “shopping day” in the town. Initially I thought it was just some sort of market day but apparently every year the streets fill with vendors on stalls as some sort of mass summer sale. The agent told me that this has been the case for around 40 years and that people from all over the region come to shop in Sandefjord on this day. From my perspective despite the huge discounts I thought it was still less expensive in the UK, but then Norway is a rather expensive country to buy anything.

Historically Sandefjord was a whaling town right up until the end of the 1960’s. The first whaling expedition to the Antarctic Ocean took place in 1905 and at its peak Sandefjord had 15 factory ships and 90 whalers. There was a large fountain in the town that served as a monument to the towns whaling heritage. Docked up in the town there was also the Southern Actor, a historical whaling vessel that was built in 1950 and whilst no longer whaling it is still sailing between Norwegian ports as a working museum.


It was free to walk around the whaler; you could even go into the Engineroom where its 3 cylinder steam engine was located. Apparently the use of steam pistons made it a lot quieter than diesel engines enabling it to get closer to the whales without scaring them off! Whilst not exactly a politically correct vessel to look around, it was interesting to see some of the equipment used onboard in the 1950’s. The old style telegraphs, of which there was even a repeater by the harpoon on the bow, were like something out of the old movies and were in English having been made in Liverpool ( Saga Sapphire’s telegraphs are in German, due to its original owners and the yard it was built in).

The crewmember on the gangway of the Southern Actor told me that it used to take 1 month to get to the Antarctic Ocean, and then they would work for 6 months before making another 1 month return journey. And we complain now about the length of time we are away from home!

We sailed at 7pm that evening having to move astern for nearly a mile before it was wide enough for us to swing around and proceed out through the short fjord, to the sea and onwards to Dover.

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.