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24th June, 2018


It was an early start for Dover. The usual Pilot time is 0700 with berthing at 0800. However due to the length of Saga Sapphire there are restrictions when we may enter the Eastern breakwater. The restrictions exist because of the strength of the tidal stream across the entrance and in the inner harbour. Therefore it was an 0500 Pilot, so early!

And what a fabulous morning. I usually associate Dover with a reasonable chop on the sea and brisk winds. This morning it was a mill pond situation, blue skies and breathless conditions. Even the Pilot said “savour this moment Captain, it does not happen so often”. By 1130 my passengers, save for those carrying on to the next cruise, the “Adventure to the North Cape Cruise”, were in their Limos on their way home.

I am looking forward to this cruise - my first cruise, the first four days back from leave, my feet didn’t touch the ground, or is that the ‘Deck!

I had elected Franko, Staff Captain, to drive out. There was a reasonable wind in from the NE. When we have a full height of tide we can sail without a tug, using the principle of bowsing onto the quay. However, with very low tide, and we were sailing at low tide, the flare of the bow would be too close to the steel shuttering on the quayside. This negates the ability to bowse off and I didn’t want to scratch the paintwork. Having assessed the conditions earlier in the day, I had ordered a tug. I asked Franko to sail with the Tug just on stand-by with a slack towing line, so effectively of no benefit. Having let go all the mooring lines Franko tried to manoeuvre off the berth, the old girl just sat there pinned on the quay by the wind and low water conditions. Nothing Franko could do to lift the stern – hence, the benefit of having the tug. With the Tug lifting the stern Franko swung the ship inside the basin and we headed out of the Western Entrance - turning North East to set course for Lerwick.

A lovely day in Dover complimented by a super evening sailing off the Kent coast and up into the North Sea with a lovely sunset to enhance the start of the cruise.

Captain Stuart Horne

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