Thursday, 31 July 2008

Special Waverley Cruise for the Vine Trust

On the evening of 30th July 2008 Waverley visited the Ayrshire port of Ardrossan for the first time in over 20 years. During her years with the Caledonian Steam Packet Company in the 1960s she had visited Ardrossan Harbour quite frequently especially at holiday weekends when she assisted the Arran car ferries on the busy service to Brodick. After she transferred to the Waverley Steam Navigation Company she continued with occasional calls and for a few years in the early 1980s she called at the former Glasgow & South Western Railway Company terminal at Winton Pier on a weekly basis on her Sunday schedule which entailed sailing from Ayr to Troon, Ardrossan, Millport, Largs, Rothesay and Loch Riddon. After the change of the Sunday schedule to Glasgow her calls at Ardrossan became infrequent. The picture above (click on picture for higher resolution) shows the vessel berthed at Winton Pier on 20th May 1985 for a special evening cruise as part of the local Three Towns Festival (Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenson). This was the only time that I saw her berhed 'port side to' at Ardrossan. She spent that night at Ardrossan and left the following morning, sailing direct to Barry Docks on the Bristol Channel. Little did we realise at that time that it would be over 20 years before the paddler returned to the port.

Berthing charges at Ardrossan inhibited Waverley's operation from there. It was not until 2008, when local man Mr Stuart McMahon decided to charter the paddler for a special sailing to raise funds for the Vine Trust, that the paddler returned to Ardrossan . So just before 6pm on Wednesday 30th July Waverley entered Ardrossan Harbour for the first time in 23 years.

Unfortunately it was not so sunny as it had been for her last call at Ardrossan but that did not discourage a large number of people from assembling on Winton Pier to support the very worth aims of the cruise organiser. In fact 670 people boarded the vessel for the cruise. By a quirk of fate, Waverley was under the command of Captain Steve Mishel (allowing the ship's normal master, Capt Andy O'Brien, a few days well earned leave). Capt Mishel had served aboard the paddler during her previous visits to Ardrossan in the early 1980s.

Waverley approaching Winton Pier (photo courtesy S McMahon)

Above, Waverley at Ardrossan Winton Pier - historially an unusual combination with a steamer displaying the livery of the North British / LNER railway fleet at the rival G&SW / LMS Railway base. In the days of intense railway fleet competition it would have been very rare to see a steamer with this livery at Ardrossan. As the paddler loaded her large complement of passengers the Cal Mac Ferries Arran vessel set out for her regular service to the island (below). Waverley and Caledonian Isles have met many times in Brodick bay but this was the first time that the two ships had met at Ardrossan.

Purser Jim counts them on (Photo courtesy S McMahon)

With all passengers aboard Waverley set off. Prompted by the ship's purser Jim McFadzean they offered up three loud cheers as the vessel went astern through the harbour mouth into the famous Ardrossan swell. A number of PSPS Scottish Branch members supported this venture while others recorded the visit for posterity

At the end of the day it was announced that the sailing had raised the magnificent sum of £4200 for the very worthy Vine Trust. Stuart McMahon is to be congratulated for his hard work and determination in organising this superb event.

The cheque presentation with Capt Steve Mishel, cruise organiser Stuart McMahon and WIllie Macpherson

Three vessels formerly serving on the Clyde are now in service for the Vine Trust in South America. The former naval tenders Milford and Ixworth, refitted for the Trust by BAE Systems plc, have been renamed Amazon Hope 1 and Amazon Hope 2 and carry vital relief supplies to people living in distressing conditions in the Amazon basin. Also the small tender Inverkip 1, which originally tended the mooring ropes of tankers at Inverkip Power Station jetty, was donated to the Trust by Scottish Power plc

After returning to Ardrossan at the end of the charter Waverey departed for her overnight berth at Greenock (photo courtesy of S McMahon) Wonder if she'll return some day!

Stuart Cameron

Sunday, 27 July 2008

PSPS Summer Charter

Hi. Thought I would post a few pictures taken on the PSPS Scottish Branch Summer charter on 11th July 2008. I've been involved with Waverley and the PSPS for a few years now. What started as a sail on Waverley a few years back for the first time as an adult has become now a major hobby (some may suggest obsession). People get different things out of PSPS membership and involvement with the boat. For me, involvement has resulted in me meeting some great people and getting the chance to unwind at weekends, enjoying a relaxing sail with beautiful scenery.

Waverley arriving at Custom House Quay.

What didn't seem a particularly promising day weather wise turned into a beautiful evening.

This is one of the things I think is special about Waverley-people getting the chance to meet up and chat.

It's also a fantastic place to enjoy a drink as well (from a cup of tea to a variety of stronger drinks) - I think in Nicola and Alison's case it may be cider.

Talking of enjoying a drink - one of the new features on Waverley this year is the setting up of the Maltman bar. From here you can enjoy a wide range of Malt Whiskies and bottled ales - served by some friendly crew.

After a successful evening with good numbers on board, we returned to Greenock - watching the sun go down.

So if you've never sailed on Waverley or sailed once as a child - why not come on board and see if you find the experience as enjoyable as I do.


Friday, 25 July 2008

The Path to Self Enlightenment - Chairman's Blog 2

......Or how I learned to love selling Olsen Draw tickets!

Bet the first heading of this post got your attention, or sent you reaching to click off this site!

Let me explain.....

It’s amazing what you learn about people when you’re on the Waverley….again, don’t panic!

It’s even more amazing what you can learn about what you can do yourself to help the Waverley if you just give something a wee try. This follows quite neatly from my first Chairman's Blog about “doing”.
Speaking personally I’ve attempted quite a few things over the years on our fine vessel with varying degrees of success / confidence, washing dishes in the galley as a thirteen year old (yes we had dishes back in those days), crawling through EVERY frame of the ship’s bilges (as part of survey work) during the winter that the Clyde froze solid as far down river as where the Crown Plaza hotel now stands, and even driving the "Mighty 2100IHP Triple Expansion Steam Engine" when I was second engineer at one point….but that’s a whole other story - or two……………
However, I think it’s fair to say that for me, the prospect of selling Olsen Prize draw tickets round the deck is only marginally preferable to having my wrist broken by the second engineer. Again you’ve guessed it, that’s a whole other story!
However when I was onboard on Thursday, as Derek was not available, I took a deep breath and had a go at selling prize draw tickets….sort of. You see, as an alternative to actually wandering the decks with tickets, we have an arrangement (see photo below) for the shy ones among us whereby we can set up a wee folding table (Loaned by the Scottish Branch) outside the pursers office and sell the tickets from there.
Well over the course of the run from Millport to Brodick, during the Pladda Island afternoon cruise and as far back as Largs, Margaret Skee and I sold over £150 worth of tickets to passengers who came to us. And I found to my surprise and delight, it was actually really enjoyable! There was the ever present chance of a bit of friendly conversation with people who wanted to know a bit more about the boat while they were buying the tickets, and the view from where we were sitting is actually pretty good.
I short, if I can do it, anyone can. So please - this is a rallying cry to all our committee and “usual suspects” (you know who you are!) - if you can spare even just a wee while to sell tickets, even if you THINK you won’t enjoy it, PLEASE have a go. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised. This year more than ever, with rocketing operational costs and a shortened opportunity to sell the tickets (following Waverley’s extended period undergoing repairs instead of sailing and earning her keep); it is vitally important we all do whatever we can.

Thank You,


Glasgow River Festival - Part 1

Last weekend saw the branch in action again at the annual Glasgow River Festival held on the River Clyde at Glasgow Science Centre.

The branch have attended this event every year since the festival was first held in 2005. That year we were part of a dedicated exhibition marquee.
There was no marquee for 2006 so the branch, thanks to the generosity of the Clyde Coastguard (via Gordon Reid) and Waverley Excursions, were loaned a gazebo and two tables – add a local company also generously donating the use of a petrol generator for the weekend and we were good to go!
So back to 2008 - the weather the day before the event was due to start was horrible to say the least but thankfully Saturday dawned dry and actually reasonably bright. The following pictures show our committee members in the throes of setup.

Our current branch chairman has an unusual way of dealing with issues which arise during exhibitions............

But soon we were ready to receive our public - but not after a much needed brew!!!

to be continued......................


Thursday, 24 July 2008


Good Evening, Lads & Lassies, Branch President reporting from English airspace!
Unlike all you lucky people up there, I am having severe withdrawal symptoms as a result of lack of paddling in 2008. However, I am now on a different lot of tablets.
Seriously, this is the first year since 1974 (when there were no paddlebeats anywhere in the UK!) that I have not been aboard Waverley and it will soon be August. Hopefully we will be coming north week comm. 17th August .......if not before. Hope the fantastic warm weather we're having in the Cotswolds is being replicated in the West of Scotland giving our paddler a chance to catch up on much-needed business.
Congratulations to those responsible for setting up the new Blog facility and I look forward to seeing Uncle Peter and others contributing regularly.
See you next month!
Douglas McGowan

Video Clip - Steam Capstan from Flying Buzzard

Not about paddles but definitely steam!! Click on the play button bottom left to play the video clip - please note that it may take a few seconds to start depending on your internet connection speed.

Steam Tug Flying Buzzard is a harbour tug built by Ferguson Bros, Port Glasgow in 1951 for the Clyde Shipping Co Ltd. She was one of three near identical vessels the others being Flying Merlin and Flying Petrel.

She was sold from the fleet in the 60s and after a spell in Dundee ended up residing in Maryport at the then new Maritime Museum. When the Museum went to the wall in 2001 she was bought by a private owner who removed her boiler and brass fittings and effectively left her to rot in the harbour.

In 2004 she was bought by Mr Mike Nelder, the steam plant was removed and replaced by an oil motor from a scrapped trawler. The redundant main steam engine and ancillary equipment was sold to the Scottish Maritime Museum and is being restored at the moment. The capstan was on display at last weekend's Glasgow River Festival and was being operated by compressed air.

For more information on Flying Buzzard visit her website here

The museum had another working exhibit on their stand which was a compound steam engine from a floating crane - more on that one another time.

Cheers for now!


Thursday, 17 July 2008

Come & See Us at The Glasgow River Festival 2008!

The branch will have their usual stand at the Glasgow River Festival this Saturday & Sunday. We will be in the same place as 2007 which is in front of the Crowne Plazza Hotel (North Bank of the River Clyde in front of the SECC).

You can park the SECC carpark (approx £4 per day) or in the Glasgow Science Centre carpark on the opposite side of the river (£3 per day) and walk across Bells Bridge or the Millenium Bridge.

In addition to our photo displays there will be an Audio Visual Presentation telling Waverley's story, movie footage of her in various sailing areas as well as information on Scotland's other paddler Maid of the Loch.


Buy One get One 1/2 Price Vouchers for all of Waverley's Sunday sailings to Lochranza until the end of her Clyde Season (Sunday 31st August)


The chance to win a cruise for 2 courtesy of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines - tickets are only £1 each - all proceeds from River Festival sales will go towards the continued operation and preservation of Waverley.


You can join the PSPS at our stand by filling in a membership leaflet.

A full adult membership is £17, Junior (ages 8 - 18) £12, Senior Citizens £12 and Couples £24
You will receive a unique membership pack to take away with you on the day!!

As well as our stand there are numerous things to see and do over the Saturday & Sunday - visit the official festival website

So you've no excuse now - come along and see us!!

Gavin Stewart - Branch Exhibitions Manager

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Chairman's Blog No 1

Whilst chatting with some of my colleagues on the committee we thought that a chairman’s blog, to use the modern parlance, might be a useful inclusion to our new Scottish Blog.
But I’ve been wondering what to put into such an article. I suppose the obvious choice is a wee bit about what we have been doing in recent months.

Why the emphasis on the word “doing” in the previous sentence?

Put simply it is because in this era of Paddle Steamer Preservation, it is what we do, that will count in the end. Now don’t get me wrong, reminiscence has its place and I can and do tell salty sea tales with the best of them, but if we don’t take action as well, then we won’t have much to reminisce about before very long.

Our ships’ futures are not assured.

So, in terms of what has being occupying the Scottish Branch over the last wee while, here’s a small and certainly not exhaustive selection.

Organising and the 2008 Midsummer Nights cruise on Waverley.

Given that this was postponed twice due to “technical difficulties” (See One Wheel On Our Paddler articles elsewhere in this site.), the amount of people involved and hours expended were considerable.

Winter Work Parties.

From January until Waverley left Glasgow for the western isles, several members of the society including several committee members turned up regularly on Saturdays, and other days to help out with the winter overhaul work.

Notice boards

Last year the Branch funded the additional notice boards that can be seen in Waverley’s Engine Room alleyways. Towards the start of this season a lot of thought and effort has gone in to producing some striking displays custom printed to fit these notice boards. By the time you read this they should be just about ready for display!

This blogspot!

This is a radical development for the Society to have its first Branch Website.
From what Gavin tells me, a blogspot is just a sort of mini website. Our intention is that the site will be updated by members of the Scottish Branch Committee, and for it to be a 21st century addition to our quarterly newsletter, to be informal but informative and perhaps even humorous from time to time! It’s already packed with interesting articles and previously unseen photographs, with such headings as: "A Blast from the Past", "Making an Exhibition of Ourselves!", "Class of 2007", "Welcome. Come Away In!", "Paddling In The Western Isles", and “One Wheel On Our Paddler Parts 1 & 2".

Please forward the address of this innovative new facet of our Society to all your family and friends, especially any younger potential members who may be put off joining our society, believing we are stuck in the past!

Christmas Cruise Details

It’s already time to think about the Christmas 2008 cruise….sigh / humbug etc! At the last committee meeting we spent a fair bit of time on costs / ticket prices / boat availability and itinerary. Things are now going on in the background. Watch this space!

Olsen Draw

After the success of last years “Olsen Draw”, the Society threw down the gauntlet to the Scottish Branch to have a go in 2008. After some teething troubles with P.O. Boxes and the like, the tickets have been printed and are on sale.
We have a lot of lost ticket selling opportunities due to Waverley being out of service after the Western Isles sailings so, PLEASE DO YOUR BIT to help us catch up and exceed the 2007 success. Remember the first prize is a cruise for two on any Fred Olsen ship sailing from the UK!

ps Maid of The Loch Masts

The Society funded the supply and installation of new aluminium masts for Maid of The Loch (Scotland’s NEXT operational Paddle Steamer!) and these were installed just last week. The difference in the Maid’s profile following the replacement of the masts is very striking to say the least and she now looks very much like an operational-paddler-in-waiting. Go have a look and spends some money on her! The ship and adjacent winch house are both very much worth a visit.

AV presentations

Last year the Branch funded the supply and installation of the large screen television in Waverley’s lower bar (now renamed the Maltman Bar due to it’s extensive range of Malt Whiskies and Real Ales). Committee members (you know who you are!) have been hard at work producing entertaining as well as promotional and educational presentations for this facility. There’s something for every taste in the background music including, gentle traditional Scottish tunes as well as the Proclaimers and even a little Status Quo.

2008 National AGM

This year The National AGM will be held aboard the Maid of the Loch. Much thought is already been given to how, in the nicest possible way, we can upstage our Bristol Channel Colleagues who hosted the 2007 AGM on Balmoral!

Now, the $64,000 question what can you do too? Well, I dunno, what can you do? One thing I know is that I’m sure you can do something to help.

For now let’s just think about the simplest thing that we can all do without exception, and the very least we should all be doing which is:

Sailing on our ships and spending money as often as we can whilst encouraging all our friends, family, colleagues to do the same.

Kinda obvious really!

Don’t wait for someone to ask you about our boats, land the first blow in yourselves, so to speak.

Anyway I think that’s enough for now. More soon, I promise!

Oh! p.s.

Quite a few of the Scottish Branch Committee, as well as other branch reps who were in Glasgow for the council of management meeting (that’s probably a whole other article!) enjoyed a great day out on Waverley on Sunday sailing round the Ailsa Craig. If you were there we hope you enjoyed yourself. If you weren’t, why not?! Anyway I’ve included a couple of shots of the ship arriving at Ayr just to make those of you who missed such a great trip feel jealous!


Thursday, 10 July 2008

Location, Location, Location!!

Fancy a wee challenge?
Identify where this shot of Waverley was taken from!!

Use the comment facility to post your guess.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

One Wheel On Our Paddler!! - Part 2

(All Photos by Iain McCorkindale)

We left this story with the paddler's Port wheel and shaft leaving the yard of Garvel Clyde Ltd in Greenock for a specialist machine shop in Manchester to have remedial works undertaken to resolve the wear issues identified during routine inspection whilst in dry dock.
This time we pick the story up as the wheel returns to the yard at around 10pm on Saturday 28th June. The job had taken a little longer than originally anticipated but as I'm sure anyone would agree it is more important to get it right rather than hurry proceedings!!
The wheel and shaft were also re-united at the machine shop to ensure that the fit was correct and also to save time when re-installing the equipment in the ship.
The photo above shows a very relieved Chief Engineer as the low loader reverses the wheel / shaft assembly into the yard. Gordon Reid is currently Waverley's Chief Engineer but he was also Project Manager of both phases of the paddler's heritage rebuild (2000/2001 & 2002/2003).
The next photo shows the low loader preparing to reverse round the head of the dock to the ship. This was no easy task even with rear wheel steering but it prevented any unecessary lifting and laying of the assembly prior to refitting.

As you can see from the photo the wheel has no floats fitted. After the assembly has been removed from the low loader this was the next task. A team made up of Garvel Clyde & Waverley engineers worked through the night to refit all but the two lowermost floats - these would be fitted when the assembly was back in it's rightful position on the ship.

The following photos show the wheel after being removed from the low loader (below) and completion of the re-fitting of the floats early the following morning (below right). The huge wing nut which is fitted to the end of the shaft can be seen clearly in the photo below - this ensures that once assembled the unit stays in position.

The following shots show the assembly being lifted back into the ship. As you will see it is not to be rushed!!

Lifting over the dock wall.

Lowering into the waiting paddle box.

Almost there!! The bright metal area is the part of the shaft that locates in the bearing housing - which can be seen at the worker's foot in the photo below. This bearing is lubricated using tallow. One of the remaining floats and the feathering gear can be seen on the dock floor ready for refitting when the time comes.

Not far to go now! The relationship between shaft and bearing housing is clearer in this shot.

A shot of the wheel in position - rebuilding of the paddlebox facing has already begun.

The familiar wooden paddlebox facing in the yard waiting to be refitted to the ship.

Hmmm! Something not right here!! The top of Waverley's paddlebox on the dockside waiting to be refitted. The platform and lights will be located on top of this part.

This was a heartening sight! Work continues apace.

Branch chairman Stuart Mears points to Waverley in the background - she's on her way back to rude health once again!!
So we leave our little paddler in the dry dock - she was refloated on Wednesday 2nd July and after running trials that day returned to service with a cruise to Brodick on the Isle of Arran on Thursday 3rd July.

We've got two wheels on our paddler again!!!!!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

One Wheel On Our Paddler!! Part 1

On Wednesday 7th May Waverley entered the dry dock of Garvel Clyde Ltd for her annual overhaul and survey
Amongst this year's tasks was the re-painting of the ship's famous red, white & black funnels and the repainting of the hull. Numerous other small tasks were also being undertaken at the same time.

During routine inspection wear was found on the port side paddle wheel and the shaft that connects it to the crankshaft of Waverley's mighty triple expansion steam engine.

This find could not be ignored so preparations were made to remove the wheel and shaft assembly from the vessel for further inspection. When this was achieved the wear was significant enough to require the assembly to be remachined before refitting. After a great deal of searching a machine shop was found in Manchester that could undertake this exacting work.

The photo (right) shows Waverley - now out of the drydock to allow another vessel in - minus her port side paddle wheel and shaft. Concrete weights can be seen to ensure the ship remains on an even keel despite more than 11 tons having been removed from her.

Work continued within the vessel whilst she lay alongside the quay (photo right). Some of her scheduled Bristol Channel sailings were undertaken by fleetmate mv Balmoral as it was obvious at this point that Waverley would be out of service for a few weeks.

The photo (left) shows the wheel and shaft on the low loader ready for transportation to Manchester.

The paddle floats have been removed and the centre of the wheel - called the bobbin because of its shape - was dye penned to make sure there were no cracks in the casting (the white coloured piece in the photo)

So here we leave for the time being - one wheel on our paddler - the other in Manchester!!

To be continued...................

Paddling In the West Highlands

Friday 2nd May - 7.00am

Paddle Steamer Waverley was rudely awoken from her winter slumber to sail from Glasgow to Oban for her annual programme of sailings from the West Highland town.
After calls at Greenock, Largs and Campbeltown our little paddler left the River Clyde and rounded the Mull of Kintyre. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the scheduled call at Port Ellen on the Isle of Islay had to be cancelled so Waverley headed north for Oban berthing at Oban's North Pier on time at approx 8.30pm.

Saturday 3rd May - 10.00am

The first cruise from Oban was to Armadale, Isle of Skye. Despite changeable weather a healthy crowd (photo above right) turned up at 9.30am ready to board the paddler. Unfortunately the weather report received from Armadale Pier around one hour later was not favourable and the cruise was quickly re-scheduled to give passengers either time ashore at Tobermorey or a scenic, sheltered water cruise. Whilst a few (myself included) disembarked at Tobermorey, a good number joined the already healthy numbers on board for this revised outing.

Sunday 4th May - 7.00am

Waverley quietly slips her moorings and departs Oban - destination Fort William. On arrival at 10.00am she boards the waiting passengers and sets sail for Oban where after boarding another healthy number she leaves at 12.15am - in the foulest of rain showers - for an afternoon cruise via three lochs and ultimately arriving at the notorious Corryvreckan Whirlpool. This whirlpool - located between the north end of Jura and south end of Scarba - can be heard many miles away when in full voice but Waverley is only permitted to sail through either side of slack tide. Even at these times there is usually much activity due to the underwater peaks causing strange currents and tidal races!

After disembarking her Oban passengers the paddler headed back to her temporary overnight berth of Fort William.

Monday 5th May - 11.15am

Around 10.30am saw a crowd gathering on North Pier for what is the jewel in the crown of Waverley's Western Isles sailing programme - the annual Bank Holiday Monday cruise to the sacred Isle of Iona. The weather was looking good and forecast to be thus for the remainder of the day so spirits were high!
After an extremely pleasant passage from Oban Waverley arrived on time in the Sound of Iona and prepared to drop anchor in a favourable location. Steamers have always tendered their passengers ashore and this time was no exception.

The tendering process (see photo left) was somewhat slower this year due to the local company only being able to supply one boat but due to the usual slick organisation by Waverley's purser Jim McFadzen, passengers were still afforded their full time ashore.

Once ashore a group us scurried off to climb to the highest point on Iona which is called Dun I. This point gives you the best views of Iona and across to the adjacent Isle of Mull. If the weather is very clear then views as far west as the Isle of Staffa are also possible.

If you look closely at the photo (right) which was taken from the top of Dun I you will see Iona Abbey to the left of centre and Waverley at anchor centre shot.

After a celebratory dram from our hip flasks we descended Dun I and headed for the hotel which is handily located near the tendering slip and also has an excellent outdoor area with views across the sound.

All too soon is was time to return to Waverley and make our way back to Oban. As we weighed anchor there was time for one last photo of the Iona shore from the port paddle box steps - a great place to sit of an afternoon - before we set sail. A couple of us went below to the dining saloon and returned with cups of soup (Waverley's soup is to die for!) and some chips as we dined alfresco enjoying the early evening sunshine. As we tied up for the last time at Oban North Pier we reflected on another great Western Isles weekend!

At 9.30 the following morning Waverley slipped her berth and headed back to the Clyde and ultimately Greenock where she arrived at 9.30pm. The following day she was due to head for Garvel Drydock and her annual overhaul and survey.

But that is another story..................