Waverley Dry Dock 2023 Appeal

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

Waverley Dry Dock 2023 Appeal

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An appeal has been launched to urgently raise the funds needed to afford Waverley’s upcoming dry dock in March and the start-up costs before she enters service.

Paul Semple, Waverley’s General Manager, has made the following statement explaining the current situation:

“Each year before Waverley can enter passenger service, she must be taken out the water by going into dry dock. This allows for the hull to be fully inspected, cleaned, and repainted. It also allows for the rudder, paddles, anchor, and other components to be inspected and maintained.

Waverley is booked to dry dock in late-March and then re-enter service in May. We now know that there is extensive steel work to be replaced in both of the ship’s paddle boxes and therefore this coming docking will be an expensive one.

2022 was a successful season in many respects – we celebrated Waverley’s 75th Anniversary, the ship returned to Oban and the Inner Hebrides, the South Coast, and the Thames after an absence of four years, and over 100,000 passengers were able to enjoy the truly unique experience of sailing on a paddle steamer. The feedback and sense of appreciation by so many people was heart-warming and helped keep the whole team, both ashore and afloat, buoyant and motivated to succeed.

However, last year we faced staggering fuel costs with an increase of over 60%, or in real terms by over £300,000. Other costs such as coach hire, catering supplies, insurance and berthing fees all increased. The charity which owns Waverley was not able to withstand such increases which has now led to a funding crisis.

Operating a historic steamship like Waverley is inherently expensive. We are now spending over £600,000 a year just to maintain her in operating condition. Spare parts for a paddle steamer are rarely ‘off the shelf’ and come at considerable cost. Dry docking is the single largest expense of the winter maintenance work, it is though essential if the ship is to carry passengers.

We urgently must now raise funds to be able to afford the dry dock fees and start-up costs for this coming summer season. The only way to raise funds quickly is to ask those who wish to see Waverley sail this summer for support. We have therefore today (19th January) launched a public appeal and kindly ask for your support. The Dry Dock 2023 Appeal has a target of £180,000, but I am delighted to report that we already have £35,000 towards this target thanks to members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

If you can support the appeal the whole Waverley team would be very grateful. We all want to continue to sail the World’s last seagoing paddle steamer because she means so much to so many people. We hold a sense of pride in operating a ship which brings so much pleasure to tens of thousands of people each year. She is an expensive lady to maintain and operate, but I believe she is worth it.

The story of Waverley’s fight for survival can’t come to an end just yet. The ship is essentially in very good condition and has many years of operational life in her, but she needs your continued support to keep paddling.

If you can, please donate to our Dry Dock 2023 Appeal today and THANK YOU for supporting Waverley.  We would be grateful to hear from any businesses or organisations who feel they could offer support to Waverley at this challenging time.”

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society’s trustees have already agreed to contribute £200,000 from the Society’s reserves, but more is required from Waverley’s supporters, including Society members.

Donations can be made online by click here or you can send a cheque payable to PSPS with your name and address to the PSPS Treasurer, Mayfield, Hoe Lane, Abinger Hammer, Dorking, RH5 6RS.

A video has been posted to the Waverley Excursions YouTube channel where Paul explains the current situation and the Appeal launch.

All donations towards the Appeal can be recorded on our Virtual Donor Wall to show support for Waverley. Everyone that donates by 1st March will be entered into a Draw to be selected for the unique opportunity to visit Waverley and see her out of the water in dry dock.

Those who donate at least £100 will receive a supporter’s tea towel as a token of thanks. Those who donate £250 or more will receive an invitation to sail on Waverley in 2023 and visit the ship’s Bridge. Donations can be made in memory of someone and recorded as such on our Virtual Donor Wall.

Heading photograph: Waverley in dry dock in 2022.