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18th July, 2018

Le Harve

It was a reasonably leisurely pace from La Pallice to Le Havre, exiting the Biscay by rounding Ushant, off the NW corner of France, early yesterday and continuing into the Western Approaches. Passing north of Guernsey, a mere 16 miles to starboard, yesterday evening before crossing the Bai de Seine overnight.

Pilot time this morning was a respectable 0630, running into the Harbour on a SE’ly course the sun rose at 0612 behind heavy horizon cloud. Franko, the strumming Staff Captain, was parking this morning. I have been to Le Havre so many times in my Pilot days, it is like a second home when it comes to docking. It is quite a tight manoeuvre and as always, Pilots think the Saga Sapphire handles like any other ‘toy’, but we all know she has a heavy stern and is slow to respond, but when she does, she does. The secret to Le Havre is slow speed and mountains of patience required. With the swing complete, Franko backed her down onto the berth. All tied up for 0800, just bang on schedule.

As it turned out, and having managed down the Guests ‘weather’ expectations for the call, the sun burst through mid-morning and by noon it was glorious blue skies and a real heat in the day. The berth was reasonably convenient with a short ride-around the town and the starboard side had a lovely view of the town and the architecture was quite splendid.

We were scheduled for a 2100 departure; however all Guests and crew were on-board by 1915 and rather than keeping many of the technical team out on duty unnecessarily, I opted to sail an hour early. Third Officer Adam was driving out tonight; an evening ‘on-berth’ breeze had picked up a tug was ordered. Slipping our moorings, the tug lifted the stern in a quite a fresh breeze from the wrong direction whilst Adam balanced the vessel with the bow-thruster. Once 50 meters off the quay, the engines were started and with the ship moving through the water, we let go the tug. Making for the harbour breakwater exit, we cleared the Harbour of Le Havre within 20 minutes of letting go.

The Pilot was disembarked by 20.40 this evening and we turned NE’ly to head up to the mid English Channel and join the Traffic Separation Schemes for Dover Straits.

The conditions were lovely and the sunset, of which I thought would be too cloudy in the evening to see, turned out to be stunning. What a fabulous last night on-board. Dover tomorrow and a 04.45 morning-call awaits me.

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.