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5th July, 2018


The crossing of the Norwegian Sea was amazing on Wednesday - like a mirror. Not often you find waters north of the North Sea so fantastic.

Yesterday morning, after such a smooth crossing, the clouds were greyer and the forecast for Force 8 from the North materialised. The fjord passage running to berth at Sedjfordur was only 550 meters which could be tricky, I thought. Approaching the eastern entrance of the Fjord, which runs broadly east to west, I hailed the Harbour Master whom stated it was ‘light airs’ which seemed at odds to what was happening where I was. After a chat with my team, I concluded I did have a get-out if I deemed it necessary and a northerly wind would assist me onto the berth.

We were due to take a pilot close off the berth and having made contact he agreed to wait for us to assess the conditions. He, likewise, said it was calm-ish however, running up the Fjord it was blustery with brisk 45 knots winds and a short sea with spray-spew air; and then we saw a little ‘pleasure’ motor yacht in the middle of the fjord. As we approached and steered clear of him, he kept coming close as if he was magnetised to the Saga Sapphire, until the point he hailed the us on the VHF, stating “I am your Pilot”.  He wanted to come alongside and embark, but I was not prepared to risk embarking him at that time and I asked him to follow me in.

As I approached the turn for the berth, the wind eased and then changed direction to ‘off’ the berth. Blowing on the berth is ideal for this old lady, not off the berth. My dilemma was that the easiest way to berth with off-shore winds was to approach stern first, starboard side alongside. The tricky thing is then trying sail this evening if the wind change direction. You need an ‘off-shore’ wind to sail from this little pier, with an onshore wind it would be nigh-impossible.

Again, engaging with my team, I elected to go with a ‘bow-in’ berthing to ensure we could sail this evening, regardless of wind direction. With the combined efforts by my mooring teams on-board and the shore linesmen we were alongside just 30 minutes later than scheduled, the gangway was landed and shortly after my Guests were going ashore.

The wind increased as the day progressed and we had substantial rain - but, wow, did the Guests enjoy the Excursions. Iceland is It is a fabulous destination and well-worth the journey from Norway.

All Guest were back on-board for 1900 and whilst we weren’t scheduled to sail until 2100, the wind had increased so that it was not safe to sail. It wasn’t about the sea condition, it was the safety of my men on the mooring decks. I had the Harbour Master and the ’local’ weather man on-board for discussions to see what the overnight conditions were likely to be and, hence, help plan my departure. Why the local weather man? Well, all the ‘formal forecast were stating light airs but it was blowing over 60 knots.

I broadcast my intention to the Guests during dinner in that I had concluded to attempt to sail at 0600 in the morning. Overnight the highest winds peaked at 78 knots. Force 12 starts at 64 knots, so it was a rather ‘blowy’ night.

Assessing the situation at 0500 this morning, I remained uncertain as the forecasted ‘drop’ had not occurred. Then, dramatically at about 0530, the wind eased to 25 knots, my self-imposed ‘safe-departure’ criteria. Hand to stations, engines running – I manoeuvred off the berth.

Even in mid-July, fresh snow had fallen overnight on the northern slopes of the south side of the Fjord. As we left the berth in crisp morning air, it was a pleasant sail out and I was surprised to see so many early-risers out on deck before 0630 as we head east for the Norwegian sea.

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.