Skip to navigation Skip to content
< Back to Saga Sapphire blog

18th May, 2018

Kiel Canal

Another early morning started off with the fresh smell of ground coffee, the sharp bite of cool air caressing the senses, and a brain waking to all the happenings of the world.

So began the pre-departure checks on the bridge as the rest of the ship lay in slumber. By 07:00 when departure was imminent and all required parties were awake, safety briefs were carried out and all stations manned. The inner working of the Sapphire began to teem with activity from watertight doors being shut, breakfast being prepared in galleys to crew going about their morning routines as another day dawned. Saga Sapphire was indeed ready to depart for her Kiel Canal transit.

A brisk wind had begun to blow from the south west and work its way across the German countryside while Sapphire still lay quietly alongside the Port of Kiel protected by the surrounding city. Emmeline, the Chief Officer, began to manoeuvre the vessel off the berth and proceeded towards the locks some 10nm north.

Upon entering the Haltenau Lock, myself, Tech Officer Luke Doyle and Musicians Robert Matthews, Robert Taylor, and Nicholas Webb descended the gangway with bicycles in tow to begin the 110km, or 68mile, cycle to Brunsbuttel lock off the Elbe river. It was a race, Sapphire vs Us. Who would reach the destination first? Would we be left behind?

Due to her size and draft Saga Sapphire requires a tug to be made fast for the entire canal transit. The canal has many passing places called “sidings “where large ships can safely pass and we had to slow down a few times to wait for a ship transiting in the other direction. This is where the tug is really useful, to steady the ship and hold position while waiting. There are many small ferries that cross the canal linking roads on both sides. These ferries are free to use for foot and car passengers with the cost covered by the canal transit charge to ships.

Some 7 hours and 25 minutes later, with head winds for the entire journey, we arrived at the agent’s office at the lock. A successful cycle, only 2 crashes, 1 bicycle chain failing, gearing issues and an attack by a protective goose! We arrived a whole hour before Saga Sapphire at the lock, to our great delight. An enjoyable yet tough day spent cycling to raise money for a great cause. A total of £2156 was raised for Silverline.

To be greeted at the lock by clapping passengers and crew alike was a great feeling for us - one I'm sure our small group won't forget for a long time.

Carl van Heerden

Third Officer

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.