Waverley’s Final Weekend of the 2015 Season
After a successful Thames season Waverley departed Gravesend on Monday 12th October at the start of her long journey home. She refueled at Southampton on Tuesday morning and then made direct for Glasgow completing the passage between the two cities in just under 40 hours. Fortunately the journey back north was completed in excellent conditions. Indeed some of her crew took the opportunity to attend the Scottish Branch meeting in Glasgow since the speaker was David Howie, who gave a presentation on ship handling and in particular Waverley and Balmoral. It turned out to be a very busy meeting and David gave an excellent account of Waverley’s unusual handling characteristics which was very well received by those present.
Waverley’s final sailings of the 2015 season took place on Saturday 17th October and Sunday 18th October. Unfortunately though her departure from Glasgow’s Pacific Quay was delayed on the Saturday by just over 2 hours owning to thick fog on the river. After leaving Glasgow her outward calls at Greenock, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan and Blairmore were all delayed by 2 hours and it was encouraging that passengers waited for her.
Following a shortened afternoon cruise she arrived back in Glasgow around 7:30pm and after a quick passenger transfer she was off again down river on her final evening cruise of the season.
Sunday in Glasgow was bright with no fog and so at 10am Captain Andy O’Brian rang the telegraphs to signal the start of his final sailing as Waverley’s Senior Master. Andy first joined Waverley Excursions as a permanent crew member back in 2006. He has sailed as master on both Balmoral and Waverley since 2007 having taken on the position of Senior Master in 2008.
A good crowd was picked up at Greenock before Waverley made for Largs where the queue stretched the full length of the pier. With everyone aboard she was near compliment. Arrival at Tighnabruaich was slightly behind the advertised arrival time, mainly due to the number of passengers being transferred at each pier. After a brief stop at the remote village pier it was time for Waverley to retrace her steps on her final voyage of 2015 back to Glasgow.
All too soon she was making her way back up river but on doing so she was slowly opened up to full speed. Engineering superintendent, Ken Henderson, was on hand to show what engine number 520 can still deliver when pushed. For about 15 minutes she was operated at around 56 rpm but with a tide against her she never reached a previous record speed on a river sprint.
After arriving at Glasgow a number of PSPS members and friends gathered in the forward lounge to allow PSPS National Chairman, Iain Dewar, to make a presentation to Captain Andy O’Brian on behalf of PSPS Council. Iain referred to Captain O’Brain’s committment to the ship over such a long period noting how he had done a job that few would want to do and very few have the capacity to do. Andy was pleased to accept the engraved whisky glasses along with something to put in them! He noted that it had been a complete privilege and on the odd occasion a pleasure as well to command Waverley. Andy noted that he had worked with a lot of very hard-working and dedicated people and he was very proud to have been a part of Waverley’s preservation.
And so another Waverley season in preservation came to an end. Over the winter both the ship’s full-time crew and office staff will work very hard to ensure her continued operation and for that we as members of the PSPS are very grateful. 2016 will be the 42nd year of Waverley operating in preservation – a remarkable achievement against all the odds.