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9th May, 2018


After a short night, we shaped up for the Tongue Pilot station, North of Ramsgate, to pick up the river pilot to take us downstream to Tilbury. I was on the Bridge for 0300, hence short night! It was a careful navigation as we increased and reduced speed to limit the ‘squat’ as we passed over the mud banks of the area. Squat: this is the term used to describe how the ship ‘sinks’ when passing through shallow water and the ‘squat’ is created by, effectively, venturi.

After three, or nearly four, hours we approached the berth and took two tugs. Two tugs are compulsory in Tilbury due to the nature of the tidal streams. We were more or less at the top of the tide, so really - did we need tugs? First line was at 0800, and we were complete with manoeuvres and fully moored Saga Sapphire alongside this Victorian berth by 0820. Tom, Staff Captain, drove in this morning, along with the Pilot ‘driving’ the tugs. It was a tidy job, as one might say.

One could describe this part of the lower Thames as having an interesting foreground and skyline, industrial to the north and residential, generally, to the south. Returning guests seemed to have enjoyed their day, having explored the delights of Kent and London.

My last port of call for this tour of duty was drawing to an end, and it was time to brief the Bridge and Engine room teams on our departure plans. Pilot on, tugs ready, and Hugo, my Second Officer, took the ship off the berth.

The pilot disembarked at 2300, or just before, and we set course towards the Dover Straits.

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.