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21st July, 2017


The passage from Kalundborg to Stockholm took us between Zealand to the east and Denmark to the west, passing under the impressive East Bridge that effectively connects Sweden and Denmark, just after 20.00.

This bridge was built between 1991 and 1998 at a cost of US$950 million. At 22,277 ft long, with a free span of 5,328 ft, it’s the world's third-longest suspension bridge, surpassed only by the Akashi Kaikyō and Xihoumen Bridges. The East Bridge had been planned to be completed in time to be the longest bridge, but as it was delayed the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge opened two months earlier.

The vertical clearance for ships is 213 ft, meaning the world's largest cruise ship just fits under with its mast folded. It was an impressive sight as we approached and passed under. Only passing under could you gauge the enormity of the construction.

Passing through the Fermer Belt overnight, we maintained an ESE'ly course to pass off the northern coast of Germany, lying to the south, before turning NNE to close on the Swedish coastline, to the north of our position, during the early morning. Landfall was lost thereafter. It was mid-afternoon on Thursday that we raised a shoreline, with the Swedish island of Gotborg on our starboard side.

A cool easterly breeze had set in during the day, the air mass being cooled by the maritime track over the Gulf of Finland and the cooler landmass of Estonia and Russia, well to the East. The skies were clear and despite the slight nip it was refreshing out on deck as we continued NNE toward Stockholm.

At 0400 on the Friday morning we embarked our Stockholm Archipelago Pilot. What a fabulous morning, the sun was up and not a breeze. The five hour passage through these beautiful islands was enhanced by the breathlessness of the morning air. There wasn’t a ripple to be seen as we glided through these pristine waters with the shoreline perfectly mirrored in the still waters.

We approached the berth shortly after 8 am, where we were 'all -fast' 30 minutes later with the shore excursions proceeding down the gangway shortly after that. We were parked to the north-east of the city as the local authorities have shied away from allowing “larger” cruise vessels 'in-town'. However, with the provision of shuttle buses, this was not an inconvenience. The day remained warm with temperatures reaching 27 Celsius with blue skies. A great day was had by all.

After catching up on my admin, time for departure was upon us almost as soon as we had arrived, or so it seemed!

The passage out through the archipelago followed the similar route up to the halfway point, before taking a more Northerly inside passage toward the northern Pilot ground. This allowed for a five hour, or so, inside passage navigation viewing with a spectacular sunset – much to the delight of our passengers.

I shall regale you with the 'dead-island' explanation tomorrow once we are in Turku, it's all about guano, Cormorants and Sea Eagles...

Captain Stuart Horne

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.