A brand new Russian ship, on her first voyage, brought 6,600 tonnes of grain into the tiny Gloucestershire port of Sharpness during January.
The Pola Sevastiana, at 140 metres long, is one of the longest ships to visit Sharpness for many years. The ship was so long, (as long as the outer basin) that she was too long to swing around in the main dock. This meant that on sailing the ship, she would have to leave stern first, from her berth at the top of the dock, into the lock and into the outer basin. After locking down, she would then have to leave stern first out into the fast-flowing River Severn, no mean feat with the strong tides that flow past Sharpness.
On a gloomy winter’s afternoon, the Pola Sevastiana left her berth, watched by many local people and gingerly edged into the lock with only a small gap either side to play with. Safely through, the ship was moored in the centre of the basin and locked down to wait a few hours for the evening tide. Even on this cold evening, many people waited alongside the piers to watch as the ship slowly went astern through the narrow entrance and out into the river.
A short time later, the Pola Sevastiana had swung on the end of North Pier and began heading down the estuary bound for Ventspils in Latvia. But first, as a thank you to those loyal local people who had braved this cold night, the ship gave one long, deep throated blast on her whistle.
E-Mail: chriswitts@ hotmail.com