Waverley’s Last 2016 Sail – A Day of Thanks
Sunday 16th October saw our paddler complete her 69th season. This proved to be a great day despite mixed weather and some problems.
After leaving Pacific Quay at 1000 prompt, those on deck were soon treated to the sight of Clyde shipbuilding. Although the building blocks for the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers at BAE Systems Govan yard are familiar sight for Waverley’s passengers, what was new this weekend was sight of a ship being fitted out at their Scotstoun yard. This was Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) HMS Forth which was sort of launched on 31st August. The term “launch” is perhaps debatable as the 1,600 tonne ship was introduced to the water by being moved on a 160-wheel platform from its construction shed onto a sinkable barge which took her to the adjacent King George V dock where the barge lowered her into the water.
Soon after Scotstoun yard, our ship passed the familiar sight the Clydebank Titan crane, but this time with someone doing 150 ft. free-fall abseil from it.
Although arrival at Greenock was on time, it soon became apparent that the departure wouldn’t be. Captain Ross Cochrane advised everyone that a technical problem had to be fixed before we could depart which turned out to be a problem with one of the boilers. Ross kept us informed as the engineers investigated and fixed the problem. However, as this had taken an hour Ross advised that, unfortunately, the cruise would be curtailed at Rothesay rather than Tighnabruich.
Greenock also saw the first of a number of rain squalls which cleared the open decks of all but the most hardy. These who did remain on deck were treated to the sight of an OPV, HMS Severn as she passed stationary coastguard cutter HMC Valiant at 19 knots off Innellan.
With a horizontal windsock denoting a strong off-shore wind, the approach to Largs was particularly tricky. The aft rope was caught and secured but the forward rope fell a few feet short of the pier. With the ship being blown off-shore, the rear rope had to be released for Waverley to go around for a second successful attempt at the pier.
At Rothesay the sun came out and changeable weather rewarded those strolling along the promenade with the sight of a rainbow ending somewhere special.
The weather stayed then fine and the wind abated on the return cruise when each pier’s staff were thanked for their work during the season. More shipping was seen on the return trip. The 25,219 GWT container ship, MSC Edith, seen loading at Greenock, was making 18 knots en route to Antwerp off Toward Point. In contrast, at the same time, Waverley overtook the tug, Biter of just 67 tons’ displacement. On closer inspection it could be seen that Biter had a camera boom on its deck which positioned the camera just above water level.
On the night-time cruise up-river Captain Ross marked this last trip of the season by a thoughtful announcement thanking passengers and crew for their support for the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer during the season. In acknowledging the crew’s contribution, he made sure to include everyone including catering crew, deckhands, shop keepers and the engineers, headed by Alex Sneddon for whom this was his last trip as Chief Engineer.
As Waverley approached Pacific Quay, Alex was at the engine room controls for what must have been a poignant moment when finished-with-engines was rung for the last time after over over 2.73 million revolutions during the season. He then thanked his engineering team from the engine-room platform, to a round of applause from the two dozen or so around the engine room. Alex has made a significant contribution this season and PSPS Scottish Branch wishes him well.
Yes, it was rightly, a day of thanks for those who work long-hours and overcome various challenges to keep our paddler steaming. However, the one person who wasn’t thanked was Captain Ross. PSPS, Scottish Branch would like to correct this by thanking him for his contribution to a successful season. We look forward to sailing with him in 2017.