Sunday, 24 April 2011

Waverley on STV News

On Friday evening (22nd April) the STV News reported the following:

"The operators of the Waverley have warned that high fuel prices, combined with a drop in passenger numbers following a string of washout summers, could force the end of a decades-old tradition".

To read more and watch the report click the following link:

Paul Semple

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Wee Taste of Rum

Easter Saturday saw the world's only sea going paddle steamer boarding passengers for a trip to the Isle of Rum via Tobermorey. After a night of strong winds and heavy rain showers the morning was grey and overcast as Waverley backed away from Oban North Pier but by the time she had tied up at Tobermorey pier the sun had forced it's way through although the temperature was still on the chilly side.
As the ship rounded Ardnamurchan her movement became more pronounced which remained the case until she approached the anchorage not far from the ferry slip. After a short wait for the tender Uillin of Staffa to come alongside the process of ferrying passengers ashore began. Time ashore was limited due to there being one tender but sufficient for a quick stroll and some photos. In what seemed like no time everyone was safely back on board and Waverley weighed anchor and set sail for Tobermorey, eventually arriving back at Oban North Pier at approximately 2130.

Gavin Stewart

A Great Day Out!

,Good Friday saw Waverley embark on her annual programme of sailings amidst the scenery of the Western Isles of Scotland.
After a delayed start at Glasgow the ship made calls at Greenock & Campbeltown before heading round the Mull of Kintyre after which she altered course for Colonsay via The Sound of Islay. 
Shortly after a call was put out for a doctor as someone had taken ill. Scottish Branch assistant secretary Shelagh Holt attended with another gent
A little while later,  having taken advantage of the 5 knot tide (the ship was achieving 19 knots over the ground) a Royal Navy Sea King appeared overhead and deposited a paramedic onto Waverley's after deck. At this point the sea king then left the scene to refuel while Waverley continued to Colonsay. On arrival at the pier the patient and paramedic disembarked to await the return of the sea king.
Waverley set sail almost immediately for Oban.  So what time do you think she arrived at Oban's North Pier?
2115 - only 45mins later than timetabled! A great effort given the challenging day. Hats off to Captain O'Brian and his crew.

Gavin Stewart

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Western Isles-A Personal View

With Waverley due to depart Glasgow in a matter of days for her annual visit to the Western Isles I feel it appropriate to be reminded of the magic of sailing such waters aboard a Paddle Steamer.
Waverley may have made her first visit to the Western Isles in 1981 but for me my first visit was in 1997 when she visited in late June/early July, due to her early Bristol Channel visit to celebrate the building and sailing of the replica Matthew. Since then I have been back a number of times, some as crew others as a passenger and again this year I plan to return.
A favourite memory of sailing these waters has to be the 2002 visit to Iona on what can only be described as one of those Waverley days that keeps you coming back for more. On that Bank Holiday Monday I can still recall the atmosphere on board as Waverley rolled her way gently back home to Oban with a very pleased cargo of passengers. Throughout the day the weather had been perfect, Waverley looked splendid as she approached Oban bay having sailed from Fort William. The journey out was filled with a sense of so much to come. As the paddler approached the Sacred Isle passengers busied themselves trying to work out how disembarkation would follow. For me I prefer to be last off and then last back on. Last aboard has somewhat more appeal to me in that by being last back you somehow get longer ashore, but by the pursers calculations we all get “the same time ashore”.

Arriving into Oban having sailed from Fort William, 2002.

Anchored off in the Sound of Iona, May 2002.
As Waverley made for home that day the atmosphere on deck grew more relaxed, indeed on those special days I find there is a collective understanding for how special Waverley is. She represents a way of life that has passed; she is a travelling time capsule that somehow has remained true to her former identity. For me she represents so much that has gone before: a window to the past that somehow through it all has survived. She is a credit to those who have stood by her; she is truly the last of her kind.
A further memory I have of Waverley in the Western Isles is from 1997 when I was asked by a certain purser to accompany 95 passengers from the pier at Fort William to the station to pay the railway fares for the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig. I asked the purser the question “Is there enough time?” to which the answer came “ask if they will let you on as well”. In the end I only had to buy one ticket but that ticket came to over £1600! On that occasion Captain Steve Michel took Waverley further up Loch Eil after departing Fort William before she headed back to Oban allowing her and the steam train to exchange whistles. It was another one of those Waverley occasions.
To those of you who have sailed the western Isles on Waverley before I encourage you to do so again, to those who have never sailed these waters I urge you to do so. This is the first time in a few years that Waverley has offered two consecutive weekends of sailings in the Western Isles, it is therefore vital that she carries as many passengers as possible.
With fuel costs rising rapidly Waverley needs as much support now as she did in the early years of preservation. In operating “the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer” we preserve a national treasure, a link with the past, a living museum and a triumph to the determination of the few. This year as in the past please support her as much as you can.

Tobermory, 2005.

Arriving back at Armadale, 2010.

Armadale again showing off the quality of paint work, perfect paddle box!
Paul Semple