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Brest

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

11th July, 2018

Passing through the Western Entrance of the English Channel overnight we adopted a more South Westerly course heading to cross the traffic lanes towards Ushant, off the NW corner of France - the navigation point where sailors consider this line be the start of a Biscay crossing. Entering into Brest is a pleasant arrival; the transit in, which is around 9 miles, passes north of the Peninsula called Roscanvel, to the south of us is a National Wildlife Park and then on the north side is the sparse urbanisation of Plougonvelin, then going east; the region of Plouzane before passing the French Naval base and the old Submarine Pens.

The Pilot time was set for 0600 and sunrise was at 0629 today. The run-in is on an easterly course so my early-bird guests on the open decks had a spectacular arrival with clear skies, a cool summer-morning breeze, glass-like waters and then the sunrise on the bow at 0629 to boot. Franko, the guitar-strumming Staff Captain was doing the parking this morning. On days like this you’re reminded how good life is!

The low water conditions in Brest do limit our arrival and departure times, there just isn’t enough water at ‘low-water’. Swing the ship close off the head of the pier, Franko positioned the ship beautifully for a well-controlled astern manoeuvre back onto the berth. Alongside for 0715, the ship was ‘all-fast’ by 0730. One of the challenges of northern European ports is the tidal range and the need to change the gangway-deck, during the call. All a bit of a nuisance, but necessary!

The saving grace of Brest, which is not an attractive berth, is the long gangways that they provide which eases the frequency you have to switch from deck 7 door to deck 5 door.

A great array of tours here, of course, being a wholly French cruise, lots of focus on wines, cheese and food - just my kind of ‘activity’. Because the port is industrial in nature, no one is allowed to walk from the ship to the gate, hence a shuttle bus service into town was provided. We are in ‘overnight’ tonight but there is a curfew from 0100. Why, you ask? To allow for the preparations for the ‘men-in-lycra’ because the Tour de France is coming to town; not that many of my guests would be revelling ashore at 0100 in Brest!

A great day today, good feedback from the Shore Excursions team, Andy & Nat, so good job boys. A peaceful night tonight, there is something nice and surreal about being on a ship overnight, just lovely.

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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