Winter 1978

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

Winter 1978

Westward Ho! with Balmoral – This year’s 4-day cruise was considered to be the best ever. Balmoral, commanded by Capt. Jack Wide MBE, left Weston at 9am and arrived in St. Ives Harbour at 7pm Saturday October 7th dawned fine, and the 186 cruise passengers were joined by over 100 local school children. Balmoral rounded the Longships at 10.40am and arrived off Penzance before noon. After a cruise to the Lizard and Newlyn, the vessel arrived back in Penzance at 4pm, and entered St Ives Harbour at 7.40pm Sunday lived up to expectation and Balmoral headed for Scilly in steep seas and brilliant sunshine. Arrival in Hugh Town was a little late, but after an afternoon ashore there was an excellent passage back in a following sea. The ship set sail on Monday and by lunchtime the sun had re-emerged. Very heavy stern swell was encountered in Bideford Bay, and almost equatorial temperatures were experienced on deck due to the brilliance of the sun and the stern wind. Ilfracombe was reached at 4.35pm, giving half an hour before the final leg to Weston.

Commemorative plaque unveiled – Waverley’s captain and fellow officers were pictured with Mrs. Anna Summers after she unveiled a special commemorative plaque on board the steamer to the late Bill Summers, Waverley’s Chief Engineer from 1947 to 1969 and Superintendent Engineer for WSN from 1975 to 1977. The ceremony took place on Waverley on September 18th.

Medway Queen sinks – During July, Medway Queen was hauled out into the River Medina and secured alongside the hulk of an old three masted schooner. In August a serious set back occurred. Settling down on a falling tide she was holed by an underwater obstruction, and despite the efforts by the local fire brigade to pump her out before the next high tide, she was subsequently flooded to the level of the main deck. Further holes appeared, and thus the ship remained for at least a week, presenting a very sad spectacle. Fortunately the damage has now been temporarily patched and she is afloat once again.

Ryde Queen re-opened – Following the fire which gutted her fore part in 1977, Ryde Queen is now undergoing extensive restoration. The forward lounge on the main deck was re-opened on September 22nd, and it is hoped to have the remainder opened in time for the 1979 season.

An evening cruise in Amsterdam – The Kapitien Kok is a remarkable paddler and her restoration was completed in only six weeks last year. Every improvement was made to enable the easy working of the ship, so that the crew say they like working on a paddle ship as it is so easy – would they say that after a summer on Waverley? Built in 1911 she paddled up and down the Lek from Rotterdam until 1950 when she was sold to be a restaurant ship at Mannheim. In 1976 the hull was towed back to Holland. On board was her last master in operational days and the ship was renamed in his honour. A diesel engine and a new hydraulic converter were fitted – coupled independently to each paddle, giving the ship the capability of turning in her own length. The bridge is the control centre with a console including lights, stereo, engine controls, radar and VHF. The only crew apart from catering staff were the captain, and two boys to handle the ropes. The capacity is 400. The cruise took us up and down the various canals and docks, and at the end of each making that remarkable 180 degree turn. Leaving at 7.30pm, and returning at 1am, the band playing and the party eating, drinking and dancing, every dock in Amsterdam harbour, with the exception of the petroleum harbours, was visited.