Supporters will be aware from the last two reports that progress recently has not matched the admittedly ambitious timing we had set ourselves – and our consultants – in order to achieve the start of the Waverley Rebuild this autumn. The fundamental problem has been one of deciding how to approach new and impending legislation. When the detailed design work started back in February, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) informed us of the current regulations which would apply to the ship and also indicated that the EC Directive on Domestic Passenger Ships, due to become effective later in 1998 would apply to Waverley by 2008. Our wish for the rebuild design to ensure compliance with the legislation which is to apply to Waverley over ten years has made plan approval by the MCA both more difficult and more costly. It has been more difficult not merely because we need the ship to comply with new rules. We – and the MCA – have of necessity had to deal with the new legislation at a time when much of it is still in draft form and is therefore difficult to interpret and apply, especially because of the age and unique construction of the ship. It has been more costly to the extent of requiring unbudgeted resources from the MCA during the current financial year. Regretfully, it will now not be possible to achieve the Rebuild during the 1998/9 winter.
We, our colleagues in the consultancies, and in the MCA are progressing as fast as possible with completion of the design specification so that we may go out to tender at the earliest opportunity with a document of the highest quality. This will then give the successful tenderer a long lead-in period before work starts. In the meantime, we have to prepare Waverley for a further season of operation. While we are all aware that this will need to be done following a disappointing season in terms of the weather and the resultant financial outcome, there are potential silver linings to the clouds. Any boiler repairs needed subsequent to the mild furnace distortion which took place in July should be covered by insurance. Substantial replating of the boiler room will be required, as will repair of the rudder. However, as both these items are included as eligible costs within the Rebuild, it is hoped that at least some of the cost may be covered by the project’s financiers. It may also be possible, if the specification is completed in time, for the work to be carried out at the yard which is chosen to carry out the remainder of the Rebuild work later in 1999.