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22nd June, 2013

Molde - Day 1

We picked the pilot up at 0800 just south of Godoya Island and proceeded to make our way in the fjords towards Molde. The weather was unfortunately wet with some heavy showers, but then with a port named Molde you would perhaps expect it to be damp!

We started to manoeuvre off of the berth at around 11:30 am having just passed the Aker Stadium, home of Molde FK, Norway’s football champions of the last two years and managed by former Manchester United player Ole Gunnar Solskear (probably of no interest to most of you, but as a football fan and more importantly a Manchester United fan, I thought I’d just throw that in).

Once alongside and all fast it was time for me to make a quick change and escort Tour Group number 1 to Haholmen Island.


The tour included a trip along the Atlantic Ocean Road, a 5 mile stretch of bridges connecting Avoroy with the mainland using the islets as “stepping stones” across the water. Stopping at Goat Island the passengers of group 1 and myself stepped aboard a replica of the Saga Siglar (not one of our ships), designed and made in a traditional manner and based on archaeological finds from the 11th Century (apart from the engine that is).

On the island everyone had light refreshments before learning about Ragnar Thorseth’s adventures sailing around the world in replica Viking ships to  prove that it could be done from 1983 – 1986.

On the return journey I received a phone call from the ship advising me that a problem had been discovered on one of the cylinder heads on one of the main engines during the pre-departure checks so that we may be late sailing while they change it! Not an un-common problem and a job that normally takes 3 or 4 hours I returned to the ship expecting to sail a couple of hours late.

Once back onboard I spoke with the Chief Engineer to find out how the replacement of the cylinder head was going, to receive some bad news. Whilst the cylinder head was not a problem and was being replaced as planned, another part had also suffered material failure. Unfortunately this was not a part that would normally fail during the lifetime of the engine so a spare for this was not kept onboard (after all we had two engines so complete redundancy from a safety perspective was assured). To put it into context, it would be like driving your car around with a spare exhaust manifold in the boot.

Of course had this happened at sea it would have been possible to “hang the leg” on the port engine that needed attention and run on the 6 remaining cylinders at reduced speed until reaching the next port. You would not however leave port in this condition except under exceptional circumstances with permission granted from a number of authorities, and you certainly wouldn’t contemplate this if heading up to the Arctic as a matter of common sense for safety reasons.

Naturally, it was a Saturday, on one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year in Norway so timing was exceptionally bad. Phone calls were made, and the engine manufacturers contacted to obtain a spare part. This would certainly not arrive tonight so I went to break the bad news to the passengers with the plan to sail 24 hours late. We’d even asked the agent, a former Chief Engineer on the Vista Fjord (now Saga Ruby), if it was possible to make the piece locally as the area has good engineering facilities. Apparently this was possible, but would take 5-7 days due to having to map an existing part and program the machinery to replicate it.

Meanwhile the Shorex Manager, Chris, had to work fast to secure some complimentary tours that could be offered to our passengers for the next day, particularly given that it was a Sunday on the solstice weekend.

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.