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16th October, 2015

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Our final port call for this voyage to Canada was to be Sydney on Cape Breton, and the plaque exchange ceremony (my thirteenth) was to be somewhat unusual to say the least. The sight of a Town Crier in full regalia complete with hand bell sort of gave the game away plus a gentleman who introduced himself as Captain Sou’wester confirmed my first suspicions. In a somewhat pantomime ceremony in the Drawing Room I, and several passengers who were ‘volunteered’, ended up having to wear a yellow waterproof fisherman’s hat while being inducted into the ‘Order of the Cape Breton Sou’wester’. There was a hardly a dry eye in the room, although those who were slightly more hard of hearing continued to read their books pretending (I assume) to be totally unaware of the unfolding events. Fortunately I do not have to wear the said yellow hat on the bridge wing while berthing the ship.

Meanwhile the tours had gone off by tender to the shore side. I had hoped to go on the Cape Breton Miners Museum excursion which had thirty minutes underground, time did not permit however and probably for the best as it would have done my back no good at all. The Fortress of Louisbourg tour was very popular as was a run over to the small community of Baddeck where Alexander Graham Bell spent the last thirty seven years of his life. That particular excursion included a trip out on the sailing vessel Amoeba, where the skipper turned out be a rugged jovial character happy to pose with his copy of ‘Sailing for Dummies’.

Back in the harbour was another cruise ship whose Captain was an ex colleague of mine from the days of Saga Rose and Antarctica, where he was my Staff Captain. A rather handsome Ukrainian fellow called Max, ‘Mad’ to some of the crew I believe, in a friendly way of course (as far as I know). It was good to have a brief chat over the VHF radio.

It was another very fine day, although the wind picked up during the late morning, causing Max to have to re-position his anchor. We both sailed, not quite in tandem and, with the wind now coming from astern, many passengers stayed on the top deck until the last views of land finally disappeared. We have six days at sea now, crossing the ‘pond’ in much the same way as I did for ten years on QE2 over thirty years ago. The forecast is looking quite reasonable, always a blessing.

Captain Philip Rentell

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