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Riga

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

16th August, 2018

After comfortable day at sea yesterday it was time for Riga; one of my favourite calls. It was a rather cloudy morning as we shaped up for the Pilot station, indeed it drizzled persistently from 0500 through to about 0930 - what we call a ‘docking’ shower! Embarking the Pilot at 0600 on time, on station, we progressed towards the river mouth. The river mouth is protected by two out breakwaters to stop silting at the entrance.

There was a fair ‘set-on’ as we passed the breakwaters, meaning to say we were steering in one direction, but going another - then as you get into the river it switches to an ebb flow, one does need to stay sharp. It’s a 12 mile river passage to the berth, which is reasonably pleasant under good conditions. I did advise my Guests to be up early, and indeed, there were quite a few out on deck braving the warm drizzle, at least it was warm-wet!

Sunrise was at 0552, but you wouldn’t know it due to the cloud. The passage upstream, whilst not stunning, is interesting - a lot of shipping activity and ships alongside undertaking various cargo operations; then as we approached the final ‘bend’ in the river it opens out to reveal the city centre. Yes, one of the ‘greats’ about Riga - we park right in town.

The wind was slight and onto the berth so it was an easy manoeuvre; like having a car with ‘park-assist’! As you can see from the Photographs, we are truly in town.

Once again, I had the opportunity for an informal trip ashore with my good lady, Nat (Explore Ashore), Maja (Social Hostess) and Alina (2nd Purser) for some local cuisine. Food was good, style of service was interesting….! Two hours later I was back on-board and getting ready for departure.

Hugo, the 2nd Officer was taking the ship out tonight. The manoeuvre called for a tug to lift the stern across the river and swinging the bow close off some military vessels - as in the photograph; that is Chris the 4th Officer ‘looking out’ in the ‘eyes’. The ‘eyes’ are called as such because of the two forward fairleads situated in the bow, hence looking like ‘eyes’ when viewed from ahead of the bow. Leaving the berth at 1700, the ship was swung and pointed downstream by 1730 and Hugo gave the ’conn’ to the local Pilot. It was about an hour and a ‘bit’ before we were in a position to debark the Pilot. At this time I had passed the ’charge’ of the vessel to the Staff Captain - allowing me to attend the ‘Newcomers’ cocktail party, so many duties!

I popped back to the bridge just after 2030, to see that we were well on our way north toward the entrance of the Gulf of Riga. What a great team I have.

Tomorrow is Liepaja, an inaugural call and quite a tight manoeuvre. I believe the last cruise ship in Liepaja was 12 years ago - interesting day ahead!

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.

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