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7th July, 2013


No sooner had we left the harbour at Dover and crossed into the northbound traffic lane of the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme), when the visibility started to drop until Saga Sapphire was enshrouded in fog. Preceding with all the usual precautions for such weather we finally broke into clear skies just after Midnight.

The following day at sea the weather remained fine and sunny, though temperatures didn’t climb any higher than 19 degrees Celsius, and the sun was still shining on us to the following day when we arrived in Aarhus on Saturday afternoon.

We were to dock in basin 7 on berth 77 (if seven is your lucky number it would be a good day to pick your lottery ticket numbers!) just on the starboard side through the inner harbour wall. Having just passed through the entrance with sufficient speed to steer with the ships engines were ordered astern to arrest the ships forward motion. Once speed had started to drop the vessel was turned to port before moving astern into position on our designated berth. Here we would remain overnight in the lovely Danish Port.

Of course Aarhus was where the tall ships would start this year’s race from and it was no coincidence that we were scheduled to leave just after the last of the tall ships. Well the cruise is called “Tall ships in the Baltic” for a reason.


As the tall ships left the harbour on a hot sunny Sunday lunchtime one by one, tall ships expert, Amanda Butcher gave a commentary on each of the entrants from the bridge. Certainly some of the ships were a little more theatrical in their departure than others: the replica warships “Gotheborg” and “Shtandart” firing cannons in clouds of smoke (blank charges obviously), whilst the Mexican’s three masted barque “Cuauhtemoc” had her rigging fully manned with a large battle ensign flying from the stern and played patriotic music as she sailed from the port (patriotic provided you are Mexican that is).

So it was all a very grand affair as the multinational armada left Aarhus’ harbour. Naturally this was not a quick event with over a hundred sailing ships, so inevitably we sailed a little later than planned (1 ½ hours late by my watch). Of course the problem with following such a fleet of sail driven ships out of harbour was that inevitably they were all in my way!

Combined with the sail past, which was perpendicular to the approaches of the port, and then the whole flotilla heading towards the narrow navigable channel south of the Slatterhage lighthouse 10 nautical miles from the port, it made for a rather interesting departure.

Unofficially Saga Sapphire had now entered the 2013 Tall Ship Race (we are quite tall and being slightly longer than 40m would be considered a Class A vessel). Had we officially entered I would have got the tug I used for free…. Hmmm worth considering for next time even if we would be disqualified for using the engines. It took me just over an hour to get ahead of the forerunners, literally just the other side of the lighthouse, but this did afford our passengers the chance for a few close up photos of some of the more competitive entrants under full sail!

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.