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5th November, 2013



Having been in Freetown a few months ago on Saga Ruby, I knew that there was a strong current running in and out of the port. So I ordered a tug to help us berth this heavy ship. The pilot boat approached us just off the berth and I duly reduced speed to about 3 knots as requested by the pilots. The pilot boat then made a series of approaches and missed the ladder on every occasion so the pilot was seen signalling the helmsman to go astern etc. I thought, a simple manoeuvre like this is being made a meal f so this doesn’t bode well! However the pilots were very jovial and friendly chaps and said to carry on with berthing the ship. I asked where the tug was and they pointed to the pilot boat! Mmmmm I thought, that’s no use. Anyway a bit of good old fashion seamanship again. (I have been doing a lot of that this trip so I am glad I studied my books on ship handling when I was an apprentice). So with 3 knots of current running past the berth, I turned the ship. During the turn the ship is swept upstream with the current so you have to have room to drift. The Bowthruster just managed to power against the current and brought the ship head to current. Then I slowly moved ahead and when the Officer Aft told me the stern was clear of the cargo ship also on the berth, I reduce the ahead engine to stem the current. So the ship was about stationary. Then using the rudder and Bowthruster, moved the ship bodily towards the pier, making sure I didn’t get the current too much on the starboard bow otherwise the ship would get pushed onto the quay too quickly. So it was all about balance and patience. Anyway once again with an excellent team work, we were soon alongside in scorching temperatures.

Coming in alongside early this morning the guests were already in the Britannia Lounge eager to explore Freetown when the port authorities typically then decided shore passes were needed in order to venture ashore today. Delaying the tours slightly we did however have everyone away come 10 am where those then staying Onboard experienced our crew performing a mandatory crew drill.


Sierra Leone is a country we don’t often come to in West Africa which has an estimated population of 6 million, with its tropical climate and diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforest there’s plenty to see here. Sierra Leone in actual fact has the third-largest natural harbour in the world in Freetown. For many years this country has relied on mining, especially diamonds for its economic base. We do however always recommend that our guests and crew don’t try purchasing these ashore.  

Many of the tours today really went into depth about Freetown’s fascinating history, how it was founded in 1787 by the British as a settlement for freed African Americans and West Indian slaves. The most popular tour today was the Freetown Orientation excursion. Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary tour was also a hit with the guests today as they were able to view the chimps in a sanctuary committed to rehabilitating orphaned or endangered chimpanzees. With a portion of the tour cost going towards the sanctuary, it’s always lovely to see how donations can help a good cause. The highlight for many on tour today was being escorted by several police officers throughout the tour due to the sheer volume of traffic. 

Once returning back to the ship there was just enough time to freshen up before another fabulous lecture with oceanology and marine biology lecturer Gloria Barnett. Terry Bishop entertained the guests through in the main show lounge this evening shortly followed by our female explosive production singers upstairs with their Girls night in cabaret.

We sailed straight out using the current to pull us away from the pier, and headed out to seaward.

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.