Momentous twelve months – On Monday 3rd August while cruising along the Gower coast Prince Ivanhoe struck a submerged object and was deliberately run ashore. The captain was in command though not on watch. It is reckoned that his prompt action in beaching the ship prevented substantial loss of life. All the passengers were taken to the beach by the ship’s boats and local craft. Prince Ivanhoe sank as the tide rose, water pouring in through a sixty foot gash in the hull. The ship was later declared a total constructive loss. It is not known what the ship struck. To turn to happier things, Waverley’s fuel bill is down 17% on 1980 following successful re-boilering. One big advantage is the speed with which steam can be raised. From cold, a full head of steam can be achieved in as little as 45 minutes compared with up to 72 hours with the old system. The increased range of the ship has also cut out the need of expensive re-fuelling stops. Waverley’s longest continuous voyage was undertaken in April – direct from Glasgow to Poole in 35 hours.
The big event in August was the arrival of parts for the new paddle wheels. Each spoke has been hand fitted to its location on the hub. The rim sections are formed from four quadrants; the assembly being made with fitted bolts. Each component has been carefully marked so assembly should be straightforward. All asbestos lagging has been removed from the boiler and pipework and will be replaced by mineral wool. The inspector has been able to examine all the seams and the boiler has been declared basically sound. The manhole doors need replacing and a firm which specialises in this equipment will provide new doors free of charge.
Scottish Branch news – On 11th July the branch had a nominated excursion on Maid of the Loch from Balloch to Inversnaid. Overall the steamer is smarter and better running this year with CalMac making a determined effort to promote the steamer. This included all-over painting of 4 buses in the Strathclyde area depicting Maid of the Loch and Loch Lomond. In addition a further 20 buses had side panel posters advertising the ship. Colourful billboard posters were erected. The advertising worked. In 1981 Maid of the Loch carried 114,000 passengers, a 20% increase over 1980.
Tattershall Castle moved to Kent – The future of one of London’s landmarks has been assured with the purchase by Chef & Brewer of PS Tattershall Castle. The new owners have commissioned Acorn Shipyard to implement modifications and the first stage began on September 7th when the top section of the funnel was cut off to pass under Blackfriars Bridge. The tow to the Medway began on the following day.
Faithful withdrawn – An era came to an end on September 4th when the paddle tug Faithful undertook a final day’s work at Devonport Dockyard. Faithful was one of the seven Director class paddle tugs built on the Clyde between 1956 and 1958 and designed with a low profile to go right alongside aircraft carriers.
White Swan completes 125 years – Known popularly in Norway as ‘The White Swan of Mjosa’, Skibladner has consistently carried around 24,000 passengers a year since returning to service in 1970. The celebrations reached their climax on August 1st and 2nd. Crowds were out all round the lake for two special voyages.