Waverley on the Bristol Channel 2011

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

Waverley on the Bristol Channel 2011

After an extended delay in dry dock due to an unforseen  problem with the rudder, Waverley departed Greenock in the evening of Wednesday 8th June.  Arriving at Swansea in the evening of the following day to take on bunkers and water and for an overnight stay.

Friday 10th June.  Waverley departed Swansea early bound for Penarth to take up her first public sailing – a cruise up the river Severn and 2 Holm Islands cruises.  Good loadings were carried, though heavy rain set in for the late afternoon and evening trips.

Approaching Penarth – photo Chris Jones
A good number aboard as she nears the pier – photo Chris Jones

Saturday 11th June.  With improved weather there were good numbers aboard for the trip from Clevedon and Penarth to Ilfracombe with an hour ashore.  The return was to call at Clevedon only – with coaches for Penarth passengers. 

Morning arrival at Penarth – photo Chris Jones
Leaving Penarth – photo Chris Jones

Sunday 12th June.  With strong south easterly winds the scheduled cruise to Porthcawl and afternoon Heritage Coast cruise had to be cancelled.

Monday13th June.  It remained windy with longer sunny spells, the cruise from Clevedon and Penarth to Minehead went ahead though the short cruise to Porlock Bay had to be curtailed due to tidal constraints.

Arriving back at Minehead from the short pm cruise – photo Chris Jones
Alongside at Minehead – photo Chris Jones

Tuesday 14th June.  Waverley had an off service day in Avonmouth (best days weather of the week!!)

Wednesday 15th June. With cool conditions and an overcast sky todays cruise called at Clevedon and Penarth taking passengers to Ilfracombe where some disembarked and more embarked for a cruise to Clovelly (first visit since Balmoral in 1997(?) ) A very limited number were able to land by launch – unfortunately one of the two launches that had been booked, didn’t turn up.

Thursday 16th June.  Again wind and sea conditions caused disruption.  The scheduled call at Sharpness was cancelled and passengers were coached to Clevedon for the cruise to Ilfracombe, however that call was abandonded when the ship was in Woody Bay, due to the deteriorating conditions.  All passengers were landed at Penarth and coached home.  The ship headed for Avonmouth to take on more bunkers, but the strong winds across the lock entrance prevented her from entering so she anchored off  Blue Anchor Bay ready for the following days charter.

Friday 17th June. Very strong westerly winds in the channel caused the private charter from Minehead to be cancelled.

Saturday 18th June.  The continuing strong winds forced the cancellation of the days sailing. Waverley alongside in Avonmouth Docks.

Sunday 19th June.  With the winds forcast to decrease during the day Waverley locked out of Avonmouth early to start her days sailings.  The swell across the front of Clevedon pier prevented a call, so she sailed direct to Penarth where she waited alongside for any passengers prepared to drive around from Clevedon.  The departure was delayed until 11.00 which meant that there would be no time for the Lundy cruise. Instead there was a choice of 3 hours ashore or an Exmoor Coast cruise.  Sea conditions were lively but the sun came out making for a pleasant trip.

At ‘Combe most passengers landed, those that stayed aboard were joined by about 100 more for the afternoon cruise.  At 1715 Waverley departed to the sound of The Bideford Pipe Band playing  a medley of Scottish tunes.  The return journey was delayed slightly when Waverley turned back towards Ilfracombe and rendezvoused with local fishing boat Kingfisher to land 2 passenger (stowaways!) who hadn’t intended going to Penarth (one had a medical condition but no medication, it was deemed prudent to put them ashore).

Arriving back at Penarth only slightly later than planned.  The rubbish was put ashore, water tanks filled and Waverley headed off on her next trip to “Greenock Direct”.  All in all, not a successful visit – badly affected by the unseasonal winds.  Lets hope that July, August and September are affected by unseasonal calm, dry days with lots of sunshine!!

Arriving at Penarth. A good crowd on the pier – photo Chris Jones
About to depart for the Exmoor Coast Cruise
Backing out from Ilfracombe
Rolling in the slight swell, back from the pm cruise
Back at Penarth. Bathed in the last of the evening sunshine.

My thanks go to Chris Jones for the use of his photographs and to Tony Gamblin for his Bristol Channel Report on which this piece has been largely based.

Peter Havard