After completion of her Thames season it was the early hours of Monday 10th October when Waverley made her way down the Thames Estuary to begin her journey home. Her journey to Weymouth provided lively conditions and at a reduced speed, due to sea conditions, it took until the Tuesday morning to reach Weymouth. She refuelled at Weymouth and lay alongside for most of the day waiting for the conditions to ease. After departing Weymouth Waverley sailed directly to Glasgow arriving early afternoon on Thursday 13th allowing her crew some rest before undertaking the final sailings on the Clyde for 2011.
Heading up river early afteroon on Thursday 13th October. (Photo by Dr Joe McKendrick)
On Friday 14th an evening charter had been arranged and this provided well over 700 passengers for a cruise down the Clyde turning at the Tail of the Bank. On Saturday the steamer sailed to the head of Loch Long to Arrochar where she turned off the former Admiralty pier before heading back Blairmore. On Saturday the weather was not so kind but over 500 were carried despite the wet conditions.
The following video was taken as the ship departed from Helensburgh for the last time in 2011. Note Captain Clark waving from the bridge!
Sunday promised to be the best day of the weekend weather wise and after the overnight rain cleared the day promised to be a success.
Sunday 16th just before boarding. (Gary Stevenson)
By the time boarding had started at 9.30am a queue had formed along the Quay. Shortly after 10am Waverley was turned with the help of the tug and proceeded “doon the watter” with over 500 onboard including many supporters who had travelled far and wide to be there for what was a day to remember.
Greenock provided a further 200 passengers which on departure from the Custom House meant that over 700 were aboard. The following link shows a video taken of both arrivals and departures from Greenock on Sunday.
As suspected by the time Waverley reached Largs a good crowd were waiting, unfortunately not all would be lucky enough to get aboard.
The queue at Largs as Waverley berthed, down the pier and onto the street! (Gary Stevenson)
Those with pre-booked tickets were allowed to board leaving just 20 further spaces for non-ticket holders. With an apology and thanks to those unable to sail Waverley departed Largs with 860 passengers, the limit of her class IV passenger certificate.
On passage to Rothesay two sea-king helicopters flew overhead.
On passage to Rothesay. (Gary Stevenson)
Waverley arrived at Tighnabruaich at just before 3pm, the scheduled departure time! However Captain Clark altered the departure time to 3.30pm to give the full 30 minutes ashore. At 3.30pm prompt she departed with three long blasts on the whistle and so the homeward journey had begun.
At Tighnabruaich. (Charles McCrossan)
By the time she reached Greenock day light was failing and on departure from Greenock Waverley’s speed was increased until she was flat out. By Dumbarton she was at full speed and with the engine running at 58rpm she certainly was keen to get home for a well earned winter rest. Unusually the tug was waiting to allow her to be turned before berthing port side to the Quay for winter lay-up. As the gangways were put out the passengers provided an applause in recognition of the efforts of the crew. Indeed two of the final passengers to leave had only stepped aboard Waverley for the first time on the Sunday morning and it was them who were the last to say thanks to the crew for a great day out adding that they would definitely return.
So as thoughts turn to the winter months ahead, the winter maintenance and the sheer hard work required to keep our paddler in pristine operational condition sincere thanks are due to all those for whom this has been a testing season. The ship’s crew, the office staff and the directors of both Waverley Excursions & Waverley Steam Navigational Company as well as the many volunteers they all deserve a massive thank you, not forgetting the passengers for it is them that also guarantee that the ship keeps sailing.
The Waverley appeal remains open and further funds will still be needed to ensure that Waverley operates a 2012 season so if you can donate please do so, full details on the website at www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk
Final fan boards. Timetable sugguestions! (Charles McCrossan)
The Society is a company limited by guarantee (having no share capital), registered in England and Wales No. 2167853, and a charity registered in England and Wales (298328) and in Scotland (SC037603). Registered Office Mayfield, Hoe Lane, Abinger Hammer, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6RS. The Society is governed by its Articles of Association which set out its objects which may be summarised as to preserve in operation paddle steamers, to educate the public in their historical significance and to preserve relics and other materials associated with paddle steamers.
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