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St John's

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

24th September, 2017

After a rather “breezy” night I awoke at 0530 to discover we still had 40 knot N’ly winds. For a Captain who hadn’t been to St John’s this might have been somewhat concerning, however having called here several times before I knew the harbour was well sheltered from the North.

At 0700 we slowed to 5 knots to embark our pilot but with 40 knots on our stb’d beam we had to create a good lee on the portside for him to “shimmy” up the pilot ladder. With the pilot on board we increased to 10 knots to reduce the amount of “drift” and proceeded into the Narrows as they are appropriately named, which you can see in the attached photos.

Having navigated the Narrows we entered the harbour at 8 knots and put the “brakes on”, swinging round to stb’d before moving astern towards our berth. The great news was that the wind was only 10-15 knots inside the harbour.

We were all fast alongside by 0745 with gangways ready. As this was our first Canadian Port it took approximately 45 minutes for Customs and Immigration to clear the ship to allow our Guests ashore.

St John’s is known as the oldest city in North America (European Fishermen first visited in 1497) and was once an exceptionally busy harbour. Despite its lesser importance as a port today, much of the appeal of St John’s centres on the seafront, whether walking through the streets of quaint colourful wooden houses or relaxing in the harbour’s cafes, bars and restaurants.

With several tours on offer including Memorial University Botanical Gardens, Old St John’s and Cape Spear, Rum and Rascals, and St John’s Coastal Hike, many Guests went to Signal Hill. This the site where Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi received the first Transatlantic wireless signal. Cape Spear, another fantastic viewing point, is North America’s most easterly point.

During the morning we had a visit from the local Mayor who presented us with a beautiful gift of jams, chocolates, books, postcards, fridge magnets, etc (photo attached).

Mid-afternoon I decided to jump on my bike and challenge myself to cycle to the top of Signal Hill and get a different view of the main Harbour and the “Narrows”. Well it was some climb but I made it and the views were certainly worth the effort. I have attached a few photos as evidence!! Having met a few of the Guests on tour to Signal Hill, I hopped back on my bike and it certainly didn’t take very long to get back into town!!! I think I free wheeled 70% of the way down.

With everyone on board we slipped off our berth and retraced our tracks. As we left the Narrows we were given a 5 gun salute from just below battery point. We, of course, returned the courtesy with a rousing blast from our ship’s whistles. Once clear of the harbour we set sail for the French Territory of St Pierre et Miquelon.

Captain Julian Burgess

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.

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