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13th July, 2018


It seems an age since we were overnight in Brest, but it was only yesterday. The morning dawned in Brest in lovely clear skies and it was a joy to sail out, leaving the berth in glacier calm waters, the forecast for the day at sea was splendid and temperature in the mid 20’s with a following breeze creating rather idyllic conditions on the open decks. Given the rather pleasant conditions, we went from our ‘quasi-blues’ uniform to Whites which are synonymous with good weather, the tropics, the Caribbean… but this is the first time I have put my Whites on since joining Saga, 14 months ago!

This morning, Montoir, a maiden call for me and a few of my navigating officers. It was an early rise for Montoir, as will be many of the ports on this cruise; the nature of sailing up rivers, I guess. However, we were scheduled to be alongside at 0600 even though the first tours were away at 0800. I had thought it was for tidal considerations but the passage up the Loire was 12.5 meters deep, plenty of water for the Saga Sapphire.

Of course, Montoir is an industrial area, there was not a lot near the ship and it was a rather an industrial berth. However, we were there as a gateway for our Shore Excursions and the beauty of the Loire wines; and what great Excursions Andy & Nat had to offer. The nearest urbanisation of recognition to our ‘berth’ was the town of Saint Nazaire, just a few clicks up stream of where we were berthed. Interesting coming in this morning as we passed St. Nazaire, the mega ship yard on the river were building two blocks for other cruise lines. You couldn’t tell them apart really, just high-rise blocks of steel.

We embarked the Pilot at 0400 and meandered our way along the Loire. I did the parking in Montoir this morning - well, I have to earn my living sometimes! It was a straight forward manoeuvre, left hand down a bit, reverse gear and park up. Being docked early means we can enjoy our ‘bacon-butties’ on the bridge - a bit of a morning treat after an early start and great team bonding.

We had full crew drills this morning and today we were going to stretch ourselves on a number of fronts. End of drills is another excuse for team bonding on the bridge, but with coffee only!

One of the challenges of French-Atlantic ports of call is the range tide. I have attached a picture of Saga Sapphire at low tide against the quay - she looks as if we have chopped of the ‘lower decks’! It was beautiful day and it soon drew to a close.

My last guests were back early, I had request ‘all on-board’ early as it was a fast run down to Bordeaux, so thanks to my passenger I was ready for a prompt departure.

The Safety Officer, Andy was sailing out tonight. A nice manoeuvre for him, he needed to swing the vessel in the river on a strong flood tide – you can’t do this without a tug. Once swung we proceed downstream out to the Biscay, yes Biscay - unbelievable conditions for the Biscay! The Pilot disembarked at 1915 as we swung more or less south to head for Bordeaux. Sunset was at 2202 and a lovely sight it was too.

Off to bed, at 0200 call awaits me I the morning!

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.