Waverley Drydock Report No 4 - Overhaul Nears Completion

Photos by Gary Lucas, Alistair Black and David Edwards
Words by Stuart Cameron

Waverley’s 2005 refit has been quite extensive and on Sunday 24th April, with five days to go until her first public sailing of 2005, the effort stepped up to complete a plethora of tasks. This was a combined effort by the ship’s crew, the team from Garvel Clyde Ltd (ship repairers) and the ever-faithful band of PSPS volunteers. There follows a collection of wonderful images of that day captured by Gary Lucas. In the first two it is evident that the paddler is getting all spruced up for her 58th season of Clyde excursions.

The deck crew are busy re-varnishing the taffrail for another busy season

Meanwhile, with the boilers back in steam, Chief Engineer Ken Henderson (right) has turned his attention to getting the steam powered windlass, used for anchor handling and warping mooring ropes, back into service. (below).

The next picture shows a feature of Waverley that sets her apart from most modern ships – apart from her magnificent razor sharp bow. That is the detail and standard of paintwork. Close examination will reveal several lines of decoration and significance – look closely for the almost imperceptible thin brown line immediately above the black. This represents the level of the taffrail of the old open main deck paddle steamers of the 19th Century. Intentionally, the line stops just short of the stem (bow) as did the taffrail.

Meanwhile a lot of effort is concentrated around the port paddle box, the main centre of this year’s overhaul. In this view two Garvel Clyde personnel are hammering up the large steel pins that fix the steel facing plate to the ships wooden belting; it protects the ship’s sides when she berths at piers and quays. The new port spring beam (see earlier reports) is now in position and can be seen above the man with the yellow helmet. The new but incomplete paddle box facing is in position above the spring beam.

Meanwhile painting of the starboard paddle box advances.

Waverley looking good from astern


And another two from the floor of the Garvel Graving Dock, which has been the scene of this type of activity for the best part of two centuries


She is leaving drydock tomorrow – as can be seen below there is still quite a lot to do on the port side!

However, the new banner proclaiming the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund to the ship’s £7m rebuild in 2000-03 is already in place.

Below, the welder finishes off the ends of the metal facing plate to minimise the chance of it catching on pier faces – all of these little details are important.

Up forward, Waverley’s Bo’sun, Tan, is busy cleaning and painting the links of Waverley’s long anchor chain – this is a job that you cannot rush.

The next set of pictures comes from Alistair Black who has been a stalwart member of Waverley’s volunteer winter work parties over many years. Alistair has a strong family tie with Waverley; his grandfather participated in the creation of her magnificent triple expansion engine at Rankin & Blackmore’s Eagle Foundry in Baker Street, Greenock in 1946-47. The type of engine that Waverley has is a Clydeside invention – the work of engineering pioneers like John Elder, Alexander (A C) Kirk and Peter Ferguson and its wide application in the 19th / 20th Centuries helped to give the Clyde premier status in world shipbuilding. In the first picture volunteers Gavin Stewart (erstwhile photographer) and David Edwards (sometimes relief purser) are refitting the protection bars in Waverley’s promenade deck, engine-room ventilation hatch.

During a quiet moment (eh?) Alistair catches David taking a breather in the Costa-Clyde sunshine.

But David gets his own back and puts Alistair behind bars!

But they better watch out as the ‘paintbrush devil’ (I’ll probably live to regret that description) is about and she’ll paint them if they don’t get moving, The irrepressible Shelagh, a Giant among Men, fresh from her success of repainting the engine room, gets to work on remedying the slightest blemish in on-deck paintwork.

This next one didn’t happen – must be fake!

Suddenly, with the scary roar of a diesel (!) crane engine, this monstrous octo-pod creature called Jenny Nettles rose from the quayside and made a dash for the port paddle box. An onlooker described the shipyard personnel’s actions towards this creature as ‘footering’ – (‘footering’ is a Scottish term whose explanation in English confounds me!)

However, the final two views must be of the star of the show, the last Clyde steamer. Firstly, Alistair catches the sunshine reflecting off her shiny new paintwork.

Then Gary’s final shot fairly whets our appetites for another season around Britain’s spectacular coastline. As someone said – ‘the best looking ship on the Clyde’ – looking good (with apologies to all the other good looking ships – we’re biased!)

Stuart Cameron
25th April 2005

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