Waverley offered to Society – Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, has been withdrawn by Caledonian MacBrayne and is being offered to PSPS subject to two conditions. These are that PSPS should not sell the vessel for scrap, and that Waverley should not be operated in competition with routes served by Caledonian MacBrayne. During the 1973 season Waverley carried many more passengers than the turbine vessel Queen Mary II, and this despite being forced to spend a number of days lying idle at Gourock with boiler tube defects and troubles caused by paddle wheels and bearings. Waverley last sailed on the Clyde in September and is now laid up at James Watt Dock, Glasgow, where some work on re-tubing the boiler is in progress. Attention has again been focused on Waverley by the national press and TV with the result that more passengers now appreciate the unique character of the vessel.
- MV Venus: June 23rd – Cruising in brilliant sunshine, seldom had conditions been so ideal for Wessex charters. Besides the two landings at Cowes and Buckler’s Hard, other features of the trip were the stop off at the Medina Marina to pause and admire PS Ryde Queen and PS Medway Queen, and later the slow meandering of the vessel up the beautiful Beaulieu River. Demand for this trip substantially exceeded the 100 tickets.
- PS Waverley: June 29th – The Society’s first Scottish evening charter. Heavy clouds darkened the scene as Waverley appeared out of the mist, returning from her Round Bute cruise. Our “resident orchestra”, Charlie Harkin’s Kit Kat Band boarded first followed by the Branch Committee who set up the Sales Stand in the forward lounge. Some 100 passengers embarked at Gourock and soon the band were heralding the start of the evening’s entertainment. Despite what was now appalling weather, about 75 were taken on at Dunoon to the accompaniment of bagpipe music. As we headed across the Firth to Largs the rain went off and our passengers were thoroughly enjoying themselves and were to be seen dancing on deck from bow to stern.
- PS Lincoln Castle: August 26th – Lincoln Castle was on this occasion bound down river towards Spurn Head, and at New Holland embarked some cars for Hull to aid Wingfield Castle in moving the Bank holiday traffic. Unloading the cars caused a slight delay and it was 14.45 when we set sail from Hull with over 450 aboard. Nearing Grimsby, we turned back up river, now sailing with the tide and a slight south easterly breeze. By this time Captain Wright was holding “open house” on the bridge, while a visit below found assistant stokers in the shape of Scottish Branch members hard at work in the stokehold as Lincoln Castle’s engines made a steady 40 rev/min.
- PS Waverley: September 29th – For the Five Loch’s charter there was an air of mystery – enough in fact for a competition to guess the distance sailed. Waverley lost time during the morning in a fresh north westerly wind, and taking time at Rothesay after visiting Lochs Riddon and Striven. We circumnavigated the assorted relics dumped by the US navy and then hurried off into Loch Goil and Loch Long. There were 453 folk aboard, but such is the cost of operating Waverley in 1973 that passage moneys only exceeded expenses by a modest sum. As Waverley headed back to Gourock, news came from the bridge that the answer was 118.2 miles – and the winner came from the engine room!
Kingswear Castle report – Bottom plate painting! – many will breathe a sigh of relief now that this job is complete, together with the topsides, although a decent water line has still to be “cut in”. Progress has been made on preparation and varnishing of the fine teak deck structures and the wheelhouse is looking quite smart. The funnel now sports a smart steel hat to keep out the elements. Our first “open afternoon” was held on September 22nd an proved to be an enjoyable affair, giving members, families and friends an opportunity of seeing how restoration work is progressing. The makers plate and brass whistle were mounted, and with the PSPS flag flying KC looked smart and attractive.
Right round Lyme Bay, 1923 – RC Stallard recalled a day trip in PS Victoria.
We left Weymouth at 7.30am, rounded Portland Bill and proceeded along Chesil Beach to West Bay. Landing there was by putting the bow on the beach, then on to Lyme Regis where we berthed alongside the Cob. Then on to Seaton and again put the bow on the beach, finally arriving at Torquay at 1.30pm. We left after about two hours, returning by the same route. It was a small steamer for such an exposed route and the sea did get up quite a bit on the return and we had it quite rough rounding the Bill. However this was typical of Cosens – and we were tough in those days.