20th September, 2021
We set our course North once we cleared the waters of the Thames. Onto the new adventure that took us to what once was called “the Land of Vikings” with ports of Bergen and Stavanger and the fjord of Geiranger. On the first sea day, while we were crossing the North Sea, the weather forecast came through with strong winds expected on our departure from Stavanger. We assessed our options and decided that the most comfortable way to deliver the cruise would be to swap Bergen with Stavanger, as Bergen is a wider port with more room for manoeuvring in adverse conditions.
The next morning, my day started at 05:00 as we had to pick up our fjord pilot at 05:30. I like to have my cup of Turkish coffee in peace before the action starts. 20NM of scenic pilotage, narrow harbour entrance, swing to starboard and we were alongside in Stavanger. We got a visit by the local police to check that all of our guests had filed the COVID protocol paperwork correctly. The last time I was in Stavanger I went on one of our organised tours to Pulpit Rock. This time, I stayed on board. My only visit ashore was to inspect the pier and say hi to our agent and the police.
At noon the following day, we took on the pilot called Stole, who assisted us on our 58NM scenic cruise to the end (or beginning) of the Geiranger Fjord. At 16:20 we slowed down from 12 knots to 6 knots, as the Seven Sisters Waterfall appeared on our port side. The view was great, and slowing down allowed even more time to admire it. Half an hour later we approached our mooring buoys. Our Pilot originally wanted us to swing on arrival, but as we wanted to use the seawalk instead of our tenders to go ashore, bow-in was the only way we could do it in order to successfully connect to the seawalk, owing to our gangway shell door position. Six mooring lines were sent to the buoy ahead of us and four lines to the buoy astern. Once we were all fast, the seawalk was connected, we arranged for our crew to go and stretch their legs along the seawalk and the landing area ashore. It was an early night straight after dinner for me as I was tired!
As much as the sail-in was great, our sail-out was magnificent! Although it was windy, the sun was shining and the view was breath-taking.
My next wakeup call came at the crack of dawn again in order to be alongside by 08:00 in Bergen. Hawkeye Pierce from M.A.S.H. said once that he knows why people used to get shot at dawn. “Who wants to be alive at 05:00?” Then, 15 minutes and a cup of coffee later, dawn broke. At which point you stop being grumpy and start enjoying the view, feeling grateful to be here and be a part of this experience.
The pier that we were supposed to use was reassigned and I was not happy with the new one – a 200m pier with a bend. That would mean that regardless of how close we would come with the bow to the bend, we would still have 40m as a minimum of overhang on the stern. The forecast predicted SE wind with gusts of 20+knots. I did not want to find myself trying to keep the ship alongside while we still had guests ashore and the gangway connected. As I am familiar with the port of Bergen, we asked our agent to allow us to use the even shorter pier of 140m, but with overhang on both sides. Bollard distribution is good and regardless of the 50m overhang each end, the ship stays well alongside. And the view is great! Outside temperature was 15°c with a sea temperature of 13°c. A bit nippy, but that didn’t stop a few locals from having a swim - I felt a chill just looking at them! Departure was easier than expected as the wind did not pick up as forecast. Another pleasant sail away, ahead of our North Sea crossing back to Dover.
Captain Franko Papić
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