Monday, 29 June 2009

Birthday Boat Balmoral!!!

Waverley's fleetmate Balmoral continued to celebrate her 60th anniversary in style with a visit to Cowes, Isle of Wight on Saturday. This port of call was familiar territory to the former Red Funnel vessel as the Southampton - Isle of Wight service was the one she was originally built to serve.

The photo above (kindly supplied by Chris Jones) shows her arriving at Cowes looking very smart and flying the Red Funnel houseflag from her foremast.

Red Funnel still run this service to this day using a mixture of roll on roll off car ferries (built between 1994 and 1996 by Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd, Port Glasgow) and fast catamaran passenger vessels.

Whenever you see Balmoral visiting the many ports she sails to and from around the UK be sure to give the Birthday Boat a wave - or even better take a sail on her!!

Gavin Stewart

You can't have a birthday without a CAKE

Last week's evening cruise organised by the Scottish Branch of the PSPS had two objectives:
  1. To raise funds for the Scottish Branch in support of keeping Waverley sailing
  2. To recognise that this year the Scottish Branch of the PSPS celebrates it's 40th birthday.
As already reported, the evening was a great success and the weather was wonderful, and despite some enforced changes to plans at the last minute, due to tidal conditions, over 700 passengers enjoyed a memorable evening - and some of that number got a piece of cake to celebrate the 40 years of the branch. I'm afraid I was a bit slow off the mark and the cake was all gone before I got there!.

The following photos will hopefully give just a little impression of the sort of night we enjoyed and the beautiful scenery to be enjoyed in the upper Firth of Clyde.

(My thanks to John MacFarlane for providing the cake photographs)

Scottish Branch Chairman Stuart Mears says a few words before the cake cutting cermony

Waverley's First Officer, Lorraine Gouland, cuts the 40th birthday cake watched
closely by Stuart who maintains pole position for the cake distribution phase!!

Branch Committee member and Cruise and Cake organiser, Peter Reid,
hands out the second piece of cake while in the background - yes!
the first bite of the first piece of cake is well on its way.

We left Greenock bound for Helensburgh (we thought) and it was only when I looked up from conversation with some friends that I realised that we were running parallel to the Gourock - Dunoon ferry, Jupiter, and that Cloch Lighthouse was up ahead. Not the normal course for Helensburgh. It was announced that due to the very low tide at Helensburgh, it had been decided to change the order of calls and eventually we veered away from the parallel course to make our first call at Blairmore. Above Jupiter can be seen continuing on her way to Dunoon, with the Cloch Lighthouse and the chimney of the former Inverkip Power Station in background.

Western Ferries Sound of Scalpay makes her way across the firth

Visibility was very good - scenery was fantastic

Eventually we arrived at Helensburgh where a large crowd was waiting

A photograph kindly provided by Allan Comrie, (one of the crowd on the pier)
showing Waverley approaching Helensburgh Pier

By the time we passed Cloch Light for the second time, the sun was
getting lower in the sky and the white building had taken on a golden hue

Sailing on the upper firth at this time of year, and particularly when closer to the north side of the river, you can see the sun setting several times, over a period of about 30 minutes, as your line of sight changes with different hills and mountains of varying heights coming into view.
This was one of the sunsets seen during our cruise.

Finally back at Greenock, unloading her passengers at 23:00, at this time of year the sky to the north never really gets dark on such fine evenings.

Charles McCrossan

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Clydebank High School Reunion Charter

On 25th June 2009 Waverley was chartered to Clydebank High School for a reunion of former staff and pupils. The following pictures were taken by Mr Tom MacDonald Tom's pictures were taken from the site of the former Beardmore's Dalmuir Naval Construction Works. When Tom started his working life the Dalmuir site was partly operated by Renfrew-based Babcock & Wilcox Ltd (making power station machinery) and partly by the shipbreaking firm of Arnott, Young & Co.

(Click on the pictures for larger views)

The first picture (above) shows Waverley passing the former John Brown shipyard site, originally developed in the 1870s when the firm of J & G Thomson & Co moved downstream from their Clyde Villa Shipyard, a site now occupied by the Glasgow Science Centre and Waverley's current home berth. The second picture shows Waverley rounding the Dalmuir bend, where the great Clydebank-built liner Queen Mary grounded temporarily on her first (and only) traverse of the Clyde on 24th March 1936. The two prominent yellow flags on the paddler carry the CHS logo of Clydebank High School.

The only remaining structure of the former Brown's shipyard site is the giant cantilever crane now known as the Clydebank Titan (below, behind the paddler). Only about 60 giant cantilever cranes were ever built (globally) and, between 1906 and 1971, six of the total were on Clydeside. The first one was built almost on the site where Tom was standing to take this picture - the west wall of the then new Beardmore's Dalmuir shipyard fitting out basin. It was designed by the German-based Benrather engineering company and fabricated in the east end of Glasgow by the Parkhead Electric Hoist & Crane Company. The Clydebank Titan was built one year later by the most prolific builder of giant cantilever cranes, the famous structural engineering company of Sir William Arrol & Co, which was also based in the east end of Glasgow, at the Dalmarnock Iron Works in Dunn Street. Arrol was also noted for other famous structures such as the Forth Bridge and the steel structure of London's Tower Bridge. By 1910 Arrol had taken over its rival's Glasgow works and the firm went on to buid another 3 of the Clyde's 6 giant cranes (at Fairfield's Govan shipyard, the North British Engine Works in Whiteinch, Glasgow and Greenock's James Watt Dock). The Benrather crane at Dalmuir was demolished in the early 1970s and the Fairfield Crane (in BVT's Govan shipyard) was demolished in 2007.

The list of world renowned ships built by Thomson's and Brown's is far too big to reproduce here but it includes such famous names as the Inman liners City of Paris and City of New York, the legendary Clyde paddle steamer Columba, the Cunard liners Lusitania, Aquitania, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Caronia, Queen Elizabeth 2, the warships HMS Hood, HMS Vanguard (Britain's last battleship) and HMS Intrepid (currently being demolished on the Mersey). Sadly, with the recent withdrawal of RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, active Clydebank-built ships are almost non existant, one of the last being the beautiful Kungsholm, originally built in 1966 for the Swedish America Line of Goteborg.

Below, another super picture by Tom McDonald of Clydebank High School's reunion cruise 'doon-the-watter'

Final view of Waverkey heading down river on the Clydebank High School charter - thanks to Tom MacDonald for these pictures.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

PSPS Scottish Branch Midsummer Charter

For many years during the 1980s and 1990s the annual PSPS Scottish Branch Midsummer Charter of Waverley enjoyed superb weather but in the last few years there has been some not so good nights - although the atmosphere on board was always great. For the 2009 charter the tremendous weather returned - a fitting night to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Scottish Branch. Aboard for tonight's sail were Peter Reid (the charter organiser of many years standing) and Ian Somerville - both genetlemen had attended the first Branch meeting away back in 1969. Some of us have only been members for 37 years! Waverley's lady Chief Officer graciously agreed to cut the birthday cake.

The good weather did cause some problems as the high atmospheric pressure left the low water depth at Helensburgh pier well below the value ib the tide tables. So much so that the regular ferry Seebus cancelled her call and Waverley had to go from Greenock to Blairmore first to allow the depth of water at Helenburgh to come up sufficiently for the paddler to berth - thankfully the large crowd of passengers on Helensburgh pier waited around and the paddler left there one hour after the intended depature time. Because of the detour there was insufficient time to do the intended Loch Long cruise - so we rounded Cloch (looking superb in the evening sun and headed south towards Wemyss Bay.

These pictures by Tom Dunlop show the paddler arriving at Helensburgh on the first (delayed call) and departing into the midsummer 'darkness' - a good night, enjoyed by over 700 passengers. Thanks to Peter Reid for arranging the charter and Branch Chairman Stuart Mears for arranging the on board musical entertainment.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Largs Pier - Waverley needs your support and action!

TThanks to John Huggins for the use of his photograph taken in early June

As many will know, Largs pier has been undergoing demolition of the old pier and construction of a new pier over the winter. Plans were that the new pier would be ready by 1st week in July with a contingency plan built in that "arrangements" would be made to allow Waverley to berth and transfer passengers, should there be any delay in finishing the pier.

After her very successful start to what was always going to be a very difficult season, with a magnificent weekend in the Western Isles followed by good loadings during her period on the Bristol Channel, Waverley is today on her way home to the Clyde for the start of her 2009 Clyde season and the disastrous news that the completion of Largs pier has been delayed until end of July and that CMAL have announced, in conjunction with their project partners, that they cannot accommodate Waverley at Largs Pier until the end of July.

The extent to which Largs pier is critical to Waverley's season is immense and this news is a major blow. Largs pier offers a major catchment area of residents and holidaymakers who provide good numbers for Waverley. Largs pier is the most convenient intermediate calling point for potential passengers travelling long distances who cannot connect with the first departure on a particular day but can catch up at Largs - this often includes passengers travelling from south of the border. As well as a later start point, it provides an earlier finish point for the long distance traveller as well. Largs has good rail and bus connections which many use to connect with Waverley. Waverley Excursions also offer coach connections to Largs from Glasgow City Centre on "non- Glasgow departure" days and its not unusual to see 3 coach loads of passengers being unloaded as Waverley hoves into sight around the south end of Cumbrae. A lot of time, effort and money have been invested in planning and advertising Largs sailings and this cannot be recovered and potential passengers will be disappointed if they turn up to find no sailings.
Largs Pier is just so important!

While the safety of passengers and public must remain a priority at all times and, as outside observers, we are not in a position to make any comment on the technical problems associated with the pier reconstruction, as potential passengers and Waverley supporters we can appeal for all involved to proactively seek a way to provide a solution which will allow Waverley to call at Largs and transfer passengers in this most critical season of her 2009 operation.

Please see further details and ACT TODAY - You CAN make a difference!

It is interesting to compare the rather negative image that CMAL chose to illustrate their Press Release on the subject with the photograph above taken in early June. The above photo shows the pier head relatively complete, still needing the final top surface and fitting out but with a small coaster alongside (which I think had delivered the hard core filling for the pier head area). Obviously still much work to be done on the leg leading towards the shore but that was two weeks ago.

Please help by doing your bit and use the link to try and influence the parties involved, particularly Scottish Goverment ministers and local council members who have vested interests even bigger than Waverley's, and who are the people most likely to be able to influence the parties involved to develop a viable alternative solution to the problem.

Waverley's planned first call at Largs is Sunday 28th June - this now seems extremely unlikely at this late date. However, every single day that can be recovered from the month of July is going to be a critical bonus and may just be the one day that makes or breaks the season.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Two Ships Day on Bristol Channel

Entering service for her 60th year, MV Balmoral made her first sailing of her 2009 season on Wednesday 17th June when she sailed from Bristol, down the River Avon and met up with her fleetmate PS Waverley in the Bristol Channel.

The following selection of photos have been provided by Chris Jones.

A well loaded Balmoral with Waverley in the background

Conditions look rather damp, keeping many passengers below
who missed the two ships passing in the channel

Waverley dressed overall to celebrate her younger fleetmate's
big event, salutes in the traditional manner
with her steam whistle as the two ships pass

Waverley alongside at Penarth Pier

A scene from the beginning of Waverley's time on the Bristol Channel
as she arrives into Avonmouth after her journey from Ayr

Her duties for the day completed, and having taken on necessary supplies,
Balmoral sets sail for the Irish Sea and this year's fleeting visit (just!)
to Scotland when she will operate two days of sailings from Garlieston on
the Solway Firth on Friday and Saturday of this week to Douglas, Isle of Man.

Only a few more days and Waverley will also be setting course
back to the Clyde for the start of her summer season -
but first the PSPS ScottishBranch Charter on 23rd

Thanks to Chris Jones for providing his photographs for use on our Blog

Charles McCrossan

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Waverley as a Music Venue

On Sunday 31st May, the Oban Gaelic Choir with the Sileas Sinclair Band, provided an evening Ceilidh Cruise from Oban to Fort William and back in what can only be described as idyllic sailing conditions. The cruise was a joint fund-raising effort between The Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival Committee and Waverley Excursions Ltd.

The evening proved a great success and although the Choir members and Band had to work throughout the eveing, they all seemed to enjoy performing on the unique platform of Waverley's deck - just between the funnels!

A few photos from the evening are below

The music and singing was so good that even the
Engineers were tempted onto deck to take the air!

Waverley is filmed as she passes through the Corran Narrows by PSPS Scottish Branch Chairman Stuart Mears and branch member John MacFarlane. They reported that the music from the decks could be clearly heard above the sound of the paddles and it is hoped that a short video clip will be posted on here in the near future.

Piper entertains on deck

Passenger transfer at Fort William - a few "sunny patches"
evidence of the great overall day enjoyed by many

Passenger transfer continues at Fort William - a very big load from the town on this occasion

Waverly swings away from Fort William Pier and
Ben Nevis appears ahead with snow still visible at the top,
despite the very hot conditions at sea level.

The crowd continues to enjoy the music on board.

A well kent "Waverley face" appears to have given up selling raffle tickets
and joined the choir instead

The sun was setting as Waverley made her way back down
Loch Linnhe towards Oban on this glorious evening

A collection of photos from the Ceilidh evening can be found here

On Monday 1st June, during Waverley's trip to Tiree, the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival treated Waverley's passengers to what was effectively the world premiere of an arrangement by Jonathan Cohen (a Waverley regular) of the ‘The Hebrides’ overture, performed by strings alone, on the leg from Oban to Tobermory.

The musicians entertain in the forward bar.
(Photo kindly supplied by Tom Carreyette)
By the time I got downstairs it was standing room only
the bar for what proved to be a very popular event.

Waverley and Music seem to combine together very well!

Charles McCrossan

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Scottish Branch Mid-Summer Cruise on Waverley

Over many years now the branch have chartered Waverley for an evening cruise - this year is no exception and marks the start of the paddler's Clyde cruising timetable for 2009.
For a taster take a look at Shelagh Holt's excellent article on last year's charter here

Please click on the flyer above to see more details - then print it out and book your tickets.
Alternatively tickets are available from the Waverley Excursions Website

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Waverley at Lundy Island

Some pictures from Waverley's first visits in 2009 to Lundy Island. The photographers are Michael McKinnon (like Waverley from Scotland), who is working for the Landmark Trust on Lundy this summer, and long time PSPS member Ashley Gill. Click on the pictures for larger size images.

The first picture (above) of Waverley's first arrival at Lundy was taken by Michael and, coincidently, it captures the second photographer, Ashley, in the red jacket on the ship's upper deck, abaft the funnels, watching the ship's approach. On the bridge is Waverley's senior master Capt Andy O'Brian and Capt Luke Davies.

The views above and below, also captured by Michael, show Waverley alongside the east side of Lundy pier as her passengers enjoy time ashore to explore the island. The paddler is looking absolutely magnificant despite limited financial resources over the past winter - she is a great credit to her officers, crew, managers and the dedicated band of enthusiatic volunteers that look after her.

First picture by Ashley (below) shows the paddler berthed on the other side of Lundy pier on 7th June.

Below, Ashley's second picture captures Ilfracombe's Town Cryer at work onthe paddler's promenade deck

In the following picture, by Ashley, Waverley has moved off to anchor - this was a familar sight until the pier at Lundy was constructed in recent years.

Finally a super view, captured by Ashley, showing Waverley underway off Lundy

The copyright of these photos remain with the photographers - many thanks to Michael and Ashley for sharing these superb views with us.

Stuart Cameron.

Waverley at Port Ellen

Returning from Oban at the end of her short programme of sailings in late May 2009, Waverley berthed at Port Ellen on the lovely Isle of Islay. In recent times Waverley has had to omit a number of planned calls at the island port due mainly to weather factors.

The 2009 call was captured in photos by a young man called Elliott Bowman who has compiled his own impressive blog of shipping calling at the two main Islay ports or just sailing past.

A visit to Elliott's blog is highly recommended

Waverley in the Bristol Channel

(Photos reproduced with kind permission of Chris Jones)

On Thursday June 4th Waverley arrived in the Bristol Channel to undertake two weeks of cruises. The following three shots show her arrival at Avonmouth.

Moving on to Monday 8th June and the following shots show our paddler approaching, arriving and departing Penarth.

Off she goes to Clevedon and then onwards to Avonmouth for bunkers.

Thanks again to Chris for the photos.
Waverley's first sailing of her 62nd Clyde Season is the annual branch mid-summer evening charter on Tuesday 23rd June - details to follow.

Gavin Stewart