An Exciting Weekend on the Waverley

Supporting the preservation and operation of paddle steamers Waverley and Kingswear Castle

An Exciting Weekend on the Waverley

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Saturday 14 August 2021 saw us at Glasgow Pacific Quay to board the Waverley for a cruise to Greenock, Dunoon and Tighnabruaich. The sky was grey and unpromising but we just got through the day with no more than a few spots of rain. The sailing was well supported throughout.

The work boat pushes us away from Pacific Quay.

With the easing of Covid restrictions, the one way systems around the ship had been removed. The paddler was well presented, a credit to the management team led by Paul Semple.

The ship’s bell from PS Jeannie Deans on display in the forward bar.

Although the current Saturday timetable does not include a call at Rothesay, we still picked up a hen party at Greenock bound for an afternoon of merriment in Dunoon. After casting off from the solid pier it was direct to Tighnabruaich.

Today was the annual Tighnabruaich Pier Association fundraising cruise which raised a tidy sum for them, repaying their support during the Reboilering Appeal. The short cruise took us down the Western Kyle.

The Tighnabruaich Pier Association fundraising cruise attracted nearly 500 passengers, a new record.

The low water at the beginning of the sailing coupled with the large numbers transferring at each pier put timekeeping under pressure but in the end, the deficit was reduced to 20 minutes.

The steamer spent the night at Pacific Quay before steaming down to Greenock at 0900 on the Sunday morning. Although this was essentially a positioning journey, passengers were carried on a one way basis.

We boarded at Greenock for the first trip to Ardrishaig by Waverley for 20 years, calling only at Largs and Tarbert on the way. The Society’s Scottish Branch had chartered the ship. Once more the sailing was well supported, with enthusiasts from all parts on board. Among them was Society President Douglas McGowan.

Arriving at Tarbert.

The outward passage was via the Kyles of Bute while the return took us via Garroch Head, thus completing a circumnavigation of the Isle.

The good folk of Ardrishaig turned our visit into an occasion, with craft stalls, vintage cars and miniature kelpies! There were crowds of people just watching the Waverley berthing.

On the quayside there was not only a modern coach from West Coast Motors but also a preserved Maudsley Marathon bus in traditional MacBrayne’s highlander livery.

At Ardrishaig with the Crinan Canal sea lock in the foreground.

Monday’s cruise was scheduled to leave Largs at 11.30 for Keppel and Brodick to steam round Ailsa Craig. Waverley had spent the night alongside Custom House Quay, Greenock, departing at 0900.

Waverley commencing her turn downstream at Greenock.

All didn’t go to plan as some crew members of CalMac’s Caledonian Isles had tested positive for Covid, so she was laid up in the second berth at Brodick undergoing deep cleaning and a crew change, meaning there was nowhere for he paddler to call. So regrettably the Brodick call had to be cancelled.

The rest of the cruise went ahead as planned, viewing hundreds, or maybe thousands, of gannets nesting on the Craig. Among the passengers were the Society’s Patrons, Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

Leaving Ailsa Craig.

The weekend was very enjoyable and a visit to sail on Waverley on the Clyde is highly recommended.