Friday, 29 October 2010

Chairman's Blog No 14 - Branch Festive Lunch Cruise 2010.

Yes folks it getting towards that time of year again - you know - the one where we all eat and drink far too much, watch the Wizard of Oz and The Great Escape for the zillionth time on Christmas Day and then eat Turkey for the next month!!
Well how about getting away from all that for the day with the Scottish Branch Festive Cruise?

On Monday 27th December the Branch have once again chartered Clyde Marine Motoring's mv Cruiser for our popular festive cruise into Loch Goil via Blairmore for a short stopover while the caterers setup a delicious buffet lunch for passengers to enjoy amidst some of the Clyde's most beautiful scenery.

We have been blessed with excellent weather in recent years so heres hoping for a repeat performance in 2010!
Cruiser will leave from Greenock's Victoria Harbour at 11am - returning at 3.30pm.
The Buffet Lunch is optional but is highly recommended!!
Click on the booking form below and select "Print" then fill it out as required.
The form also contains further details of the day.
See you on board!!

Click on Image then Print
 Gavin Stewart

Monday, 25 October 2010

Swiss Steamer Rudder Riders

Re following link - officially its not alllowed but its been going on since my first paddle steamer trip in Switzerland in 1975 and probably much longer. Youths of the lakes, especially Lake Leman, surf on top of the large rudders of the lake steamers until distance from shore or a swift turn of the helm 'encourages' them to depart. Some even hold onto the support spars under the sponsons aft of the paddles and eventually let go when the vessel gets underway - getting washed out of the paddlebox at high velocity.  On one occasion a lad's swimming shorts got washed out before he did - he had to swim very fast to retreive them and save his modesty!

Although I was still a teenager in 1975, and was in a group of teenage lads camping in Switzerland, I can't remember any of us wanting to have a go at this!

Crazy Boat Surfers
(Sorry, cannot get YouTube embeds to work here0

Monday, 18 October 2010

Au Revoir 'Jimmy Tickets'

Jim the Purser, on the paddlebox of his beloved Waverley, at the Isle of Tiree
(picture by Helen Strachan)

Waverley's final sailing of the 2010 season on Sunday 17th October brought the retiral of one of her longest serving crew members, Chief Purser Jim MacFadzean, after 23 summer seasons 'Just Behind the Funnels' of the World's Last Sea-going Paddle Steamer. Undoubtedly, he is the longest serving purser of Waverley's 63 years and few, if any, pursers can have been associated so closely with the operation of one vessel for such a prolonged period in the entire 198 year history of the Clyde Steamers.

Although he had often been on the paddler as a passenger prior to joining the crew, when he was appointed Purser in May 1988 it was his first professional association of any kind with the sea and ships, a fact that is hard to believe nearly quarter of a century later. Coming from an Ayrshire farming family, Jim had been closely associated with that vocation in his native Ayrshire, in other parts of the UK and in North America. It was in the latter period that he caught the bug for his round-the-world wanderings which he has often pursued during his 'winter leave' from Waverley. While the ship has been in hibernation back on a cold and frosty Clydesside, Jim has has undertaken safaris in Africa, visits to the Orient and even some seaborne adventures on definitely larger, arguably more luxurious (well for Jim anyway!), rarely more famous and never more historic vessels than the World's Last Seagoing Paddle Steamer!

I well remember his first weekend as Purser, out of Oban in the spring of 1988 and it was something of a baptism of fire. After a 'single 'in service training day by the late Mr David Duncanson, then General Manag'er of Waverley Excursions, it was over to Jim - since then he has really made the job his own. His prediction on that first day that it would be a 'fill in' job for a couple of seasons before returning to farm management proved to be somewhat inaccurate. As the 'public face' of Waverley he is unrivalled. Thousands upon thousands of people know the purser of Waverley and not just from Clydeside or the ships other operational areas around the UK - he has been recognised as such during his winter wanderings in distant shores as far flung as Cape Town, South Africa and Hong Kong.

During the 2010 season Jim has received kindly given gifts, thanks and good wishes from people and Branches of the PSPS around the UK - a mark the genuine affection which so many people around the country (and even further afield) have for him due to his tremendous contribution to the preservation of Waverley and due to his genuine care for his passengers and fellow crew members, his friendship and good humour.

During Waverley's penultimate sailing of 2010 Jim was joined by several of his former assistant pursers from the last 23 years for an unique 'Pursors Collection' picture on the paddle box steps.

Jim and his Assistant Pursers
(Back Row l to r: Simon Morgan, Paul Semple, Jim, David Edwards and Tony Gamblin
Front Row: Campbell Watt, Gary Stevenson and Scott Adams)
(Photo by Dr Joe McKendrick)

On the ship's last call of the year at Blairmore, at a short ceremony on the pier, Captain Alistair McLundie, Chairman of the Friends of Blairmore Pier Trust, presented Jim with an honorary membership of the Trust and a wonderful retirement cake. A short video of the  ceremony can be seen at

Captain McLundie of the Blairmore Pier Trust making the presentation to Jim
(Photo by Dr Joe McKendrick)

The Certificate and Cake presented to Jim by the Blairmore Pier Trust
(Photo by Dr Joe McKendrick)
During the last sailing of Waverley's 2010 Season, signal flags spelling out Jim's initials 'J M C F' were flown from the paddlers foremast in his honour.

Signal flags J M C F for Jim's last day as purser
(Photo by Dr Joe McKendrick)

While the vessel was sailing Round Bute, at a special ceremony Jim was thanked on behalf passengers, crew, PSPS and Waverley Excursions. Speaking from the perspective of a passenger, PSPS member and Scottish Branch committee member Paul Semple described Jim as the best 'people person' he knew, a comment that drew applause from the audience, a quality that was obviously a mainstay of Jim's long successful 'Pursership'. Paul presented Jim with a large cheque being the aggregate sum of donations contributed by regular passengers of the Waverley. In his alternative role as a crew member, Paul thanked Jim for the wise counsel and advice that was freely available to fellow crew members of all deparments and ranks. PSPS Scottish Branch Chairman Gavin Stewart presented Jim with an engraved decanter (and some 'stuff' to put in it) as a mark of the thanks of his 'home' branch and Waverley Excursions Ltd Chairman Graeme Hogg thanked Jim for all his efforts on behalf of the Company. (subsequently WEL hosted a retirement dinner for Jim , attended by many of his colleagues, past and present, in the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Sobcross Quay, Glasgow on 18th October). Finally Jim cut a tremendous, large retirement cake - thanks to Catering Manager Craig Peacock and the catering department for that)

Jim's Retirement Cake
(Picture by Andy Gilmour)

On the return sailing Jim sported an unique version of Waverley's world famous wooly hats. The special hat, produced personally by Waverley's Chief Hat-knitter Jenny Longhurst, bore the appropriate legend 'Dun Pursering'. As Waverley returned to her home base at the old No 81 berth at Plantation Quay, Glasgow and her giant paddlewheels beat their last beats of 2010, Jim 'signed off' with his final announcement over the 'Tannoy', thanking everyone for their gifts, kind comments and good wishes and for making his final day so memorable.

Au Revoir Mr Purser. Thanks for giving us so many wonderful days out around the beautiful British coastline. Please don't be a stranger in future; come back to see us often but, most of all, have a very long, healthy and happy retirement.

'Jimmy Tickets' looking back on a long and illustrious career
 on the World's Last Seagoing Paddle Steamer
(Picture by Tom Dunlop)

Stuart Cameron
on behalf of Scottish Branch Committee

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dr James Moore

On this day, Waverley's last sailing day of the 2010 season, it is with deep regret that we have to record the passing of one of her greatest supporters during the 35 years that she has been under operational preservation. PSPS member Dr James Moore answered the call during the early days of the paddler's operation by Waverley Excursions and took on the significant task of distribution timetables, leaflets and publicity thoughout the Ayrshire coast and its hinterlands. His wife Mona also played a big part in this all important work. During the 1980s and 1990s Dr Moore served as the Chairman of Waverley Excursions Limited, the paddler's operating company, for a period of well over a decade. We will never know how he managed to fit in all of these tasks in parallel with his professional commitments as a surgeon in Ayr but we will be eternally thankful that his dedication to Waverley was so strong during that crucial period of her preservation. James and Mona continued to support the cause right into the current sailing season and it was good to see both of them on the upper deck of Waverley, enjoying the sunshine as the paddler cruised round Ailsa Craig from Ayr, on the final day of her main Clyde season at the end of August.  Following his retirement a number of years ago he embarked on a project that had interested him over a prolonged period, researching and ultimately producing a fine little book on the history of the Port of Ayr.

To Dr Moore's widow Mona and the family we wish to record our sincere thanks for all of the hard work that he performed on a completely voluntary basis over the last 3 decades and offer our condolances on your sad loss - he will be long remembered by his many friends on the Waverley.

During her final sailings of 2010, 16th and 17th October,  the Red Ensign at Waverley's stern will be flying at half mast as a mark of respect for her great friend and supporter Dr James Moore.

                                                                                                       (Photo: Tom Dunlop)

Stuart Cameron
Scottish Branch Committee

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Waverley says Bon Voyage to new Cunarder.

On Tuesday 12th October Waverley undertook a sell out cruise to view and escort newly delivered Cunard cruise ship Queen Elizabeth leaving Southampton on her Maiden Voyage.

This is the second cunarder Waverley has escorted in 2010, the first being QE's Vista class sister Queen Victoria when she visited Greenock in July.

Photos can be found here & here.

The Clyde sees visits from two of the Cunard fleet in Sept 2011 with Queen Elizabeth visiting as part of her round UK tour and flagship Queen Mary 2 as part of her round UK tour (in the opposite direction to QE) - this will be QM2's second visit to Greenock.

Chairman's Blog No13 - ps Lincoln Castle Update.

As you may recall the PSPS were offered the former Humber Car / Passenger paddler Lincoln Castle earlier this year. For very real reasons the society council made the difficult decision not to take on the ageing vessel due to the level of work required to make her a viable entity for ongoing preservation whilst not posing a risk to Waverley, Kingswear Castle and Balmoral.

It transpired at the time the PSPS council were making the decision another potential buyer had appeared and all (we thought) was well. HOWEVER this was a false dawn and despite the forming of a preservation group the owner of the vessel took matters into his own hands and demolition of the 1940 Inglis built vessel started.

I recently received an email from Chris Woolley containing the following link which takes up the story and has photos of the vessel in the stages of demolition.

ps Lincoln Castle update.

It is my personal opinion that any potential preservation candidate should of course be considered but in these difficult economic times the financial implications not only of the project but the effect on existing interests must always take precedence. The society's volunteers have helped it keep it's vessels in service through good and bad. Taking on Lincoln Castle would have been a paddler too far.

Thanks to Chris for sending the update link.

Gavin Stewart
Scottish Branch Chairman

Friday, 8 October 2010

La Suisse 2009

After looking at the video clips suggested by Stuart I thought I could share some pictures taken of La Suisse when I visited Lake Geneva in 2009.

Arriving Montreux

The standards of the recent rebuild are very high and I was particularly impressed by the main dining saloon.  I tend to take a number of interior photos as they help to give an impression of what it is like to sail aboard a certain vessel. The following pictures give some indication of the high standard of finish which was achieved in the rebuild of La Suisse.

The main first class dining saloon in neo-classic "Louis XVI" style

The staircase from the main deck to the upper first class deck. Note the "glass" deck aft of the engine.
This is also a feature on the other recently rebuilt Lake Geneva paddle Savoie.

The upper deck dining area during a busy lunch time service

Upper deck looking forward

The Sulzer engine

Departing Lausanne-Ouchy

Paul Semple

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rebuilding La Suisse

Some interesting short High Definition videos of the recent circa £12m (if I remember correctly) rebuild and re-entry to service of the Lake Leman (Lake of Geneva) paddle steamer and flagship La Suisse, which has been celebrating her 100th year on the lake in 2010.

The videos appear on YouTube and, as I could not get the embed codes to work here, I've just posted a normal links. For best viewing quality click through to the YouTube site, select the highest definition version and full screen viewing on the bar below the video window. Some of the 720p HD versions are biggish files, so they might take a while to load on first viewing depending on the speed of your internet connection (may be impractical if you are on a dial-up connection but you can select lower res versions) - but they are definitely worth waiting for.

First up video shows La Suisse entering the covered drydock at her owners' (Compagnie Generale di Navigatione sur la Lac Leman) shipyard at Ouchy in the city of Laussane on the north (Swiss) shore of the lake at the start of the rebuild on 1st October 2007. The rebuild lasted until spring 2009 so La Suisse did not sail at all in 2008. She is a big paddler in Swiss terms (slightly longer than Waverley) so she has to be 'shoe-horned' into the drydock. Her masts are removed as is the top of her funnel as she proceeds into the dock. This video is not HD - max res is 360p

Jump forward to 6th April 2009 with underwater hull work complete there are two videos of her re-emerging from the dock, still with loads of work to do at the steamer lay up berths. In the first video the wee tug take a while to build up some momentum. PS Savoie also undergoing pre-season preparation work (max res 720p HD)

and, with views of four of the other CGN paddlers, including the now redundant DPV Italie lying, forlornly, at the outer quay wall. DPV Vevey was withdrawn from service in Sept 2010 and, with plans to re-convert them to steam effectively gone, the future of the three diesel engined paddlers on this lake does not look great at present

The next two videos, from 17th April 2009, show La Suisse heading out of the yard for the first trial of her rebuilt 99 year old compound steam engine , originally built by the famous firm of Sulzer Brothers of Winterthur. Sulzer built quite a number of paddle steamers for the Swiss lakes commencing  with the Schwyz and Victoria in 1870 for Lake Lucerne. Recently it has emerged that they apparently sub-contracted at least part of these vessels (possibly the design and the hulls) as the records of the famous Clyde shipbuilder Barclay Curle & Co show paddle steamers of these names being supplied to Sulzer Brothers in that year.
In the first video engine entablatures still in undercoat paint colour. With her windows blanked and deck fittings still missing it is obvious that there is still a lot of fitting out work to be done (720p HD)


Next one seems to be from a TV news programme talking to people involved in the rebuild - some of you may recognise Didier Zuchuat from his visits to Waverley some years back. (afraid my French isn't up to providing a complete interpretation!) Sometimes an advert plays at the start but it doen't last long - some nice views of the wonderfully restored 'Belle Epoque' interiors

Next, the big day arrives, 16th May 2009, and the magnificently rebuilt 99 year old paddle steamer La Suisse goes away astern from the passenger berth at Ouchy with her steam whistle blowing, balloons rising and her special decorations giving new meaning to the terms 'flagship' and 'dressed overall'. Good for another century. There is even the sound of a few Alphorns near the end

Next a high res video of the departure from a different view point (720p HD)

and out in the lake off Lausanne (720p HD)

Now another great HD clip, passing the wonderful chateau de Chillon on the rebuilt paddler one of my favorite parts of Lake Leman (720p HD)

Another HD of her arriving at Lausanne Ouchy with the Savoy Alps and the French shore of the lake as the background (720p HD)

Short one on 16 June 2009 of her coming round the headland between chateau de Chillon and the world famous Swiss riviera resort of Montreux, calling there then departing again in the direction of Lausanne and Geneva

and finally another of her arriving and leaving Montreux (from up the hill this time) passing the now redundant DPV Vevey - something we might never see again

Stuart Cameron