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9th July, 2013


East Bridge

After edging in front of the Tall Ships, Saga Sapphire made her way down through the Belts, entering the Great Belt (Storebaelt) in the early evening. At around 8pm Saga Sapphire passed under the East Bridge, part of the Great Belt Bridge system.

The suspension bridge known as the East Bridge has the world’s third longest span, the longest in Europe (in fact the longest outside of Asia). The two pillars from which the bridge is suspended are Denmark’s tallest structures excluding radio transmitters standing 833 ft above sea level.

Saga Sapphire exited the Great Belt just after 11pm, heading east, passing south of Gedsa and then north, passing to the west of Gotland towards Sandhamn pilot station. Arriving at 3:30 am to pick the pilot up, Saga Sapphire commenced the 4 hour passage through the archipelago towards Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm.

Despite the sunshine, there were not many passengers up at that hour to see the majority of the passage through the archipelago, but they would have the opportunity on departure to see the same route in reverse so you can hardly blame them.

Arriving alongside our berth at Frihamnen, Stockholm we were joined by the Seabourn Sojourn and the Aurora. Originally we were scheduled to anchor in Stockholm and tender but as our draft was less than normal by about a foot due to the fact we were running low on fuel (we will fill up in St Petersburg), the harbour authorities gave us dispensation to use the berth normally allocated for slightly shallower drafted vessels (and the only one not in use by a passenger ship on this day).

Oscar Fredriksborg Fort

5pm arrived and it was time to leave the cleanest of capital cities, with the sun still shining. We joined the procession of cruise ships and ferries heading out into the Baltic Sea tagging on the end just behind the Aurora. After winding our way through the first part of the archipelago, populated with numerous pleasure craft taking advantage of the fine summer weather, we slowed down to pass through a cut flanked by the Oscar Fredriksborg fortresses. Shortly after this we found ourselves breaking away from the convoy, watching the Aurora take the northern route through the archipelago along with the ferries due to the fact that they are too large to take the more scenic route towards Sandhamn.

ABBA Island

We passed Viggso Island, often called 'ABBA Island' by cruise ship Bridge Officers due to the fact the ABBA wrote some of their hits whilst staying on the island. The summer house that used to belong to their manager can be seen looking back as we sailed past on the way out towards Sandhamn. Dropping the pilot off at around 9 pm, we were soon on our way towards Helsinki, which incidentally is where the first leg of the Tall Ships Race ends though it is unlikely that many would have made it this far yet!

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.