Autumn Bristol Channel Weekend

Having sailed from Tilbury earlier than planned at 19.30 on the evening of Monday 15 October 2001, Waverley made port at Weymouth on Tuesday afternoon at 13.20. She remained there stormbound until Friday evening, when she set sail for the West at 19.32. Unfortunately this meant that the timetabled cruises on Friday and Saturday had to be cancelled. Conditions were lively until she rounded Land's End, but were calmer once an easterly course had been set. A call was made at Ilfracombe from 14.10 until 17.00 for minor repairs and Penarth was reached at 19.40. Here various papers and files from the shortly-to-close Penarth Office were loaded to go back to Glasgow. Finally, the paddler left at 20.20 to anchor off Clevedon at 21.20.

Blue skies and light winds greeted the steamer on Sunday morning as she went alongside Clevedon Pier to commence her last sailing from the Somerset port in 2001. This was to take her to Penarth and Ilfracombe for two hours ashore. Leaving the Glamorgan shore 660 souls were on board for an afternoon out in Devon. The Pier at Ilfracombe now looks complete.

Passengers re-boarding at Ilfracombe

On leaving, the Waverley gave the traditional three long blasts on her whistle to mark the last departure of the season. Darkness fell with an attractive sunset on the return passage to Penarth and Clevedon. Then the paddler had to proceed to Avonmouth to lock in for fuel, before anchoring for the rest of the night.

Waverley came alongside Penarth Pier again just before eight o'clock, just as the sun was rising, to take water before her last main season sailing. The sun shone brightly as she slipped away across a silky smooth sea. Rounding Lavernock Point fog banks could be seen ahead, and there were only intermittent views of the coast after Aberthaw.

The steamer then turned into the coast to make her final pick-up at Porthcawl's stone harbour arm. There were just over 200 aboard for the cruise to Milford Haven. Unfortunately there was quite a heavy shower while we steamed across Swansea Bay, but it was dry while we passed the Gower Coast.

The unusually shaped Worms Head marks the western extremity of the Gower Peninsula. There was some more light rain as we crossed Camarthen Bay, heading straight from Tenby on its western shore.

This course took us to the north of Caldey Island and then Captain Gellatly doubled back along the island's south coast. The firing ranges to the west were firing, so we had to head off out to sea to maintain the required course at least five miles from the Pembrokeshire shore. By now the sun was shining brightly under a blue sky.

In the distance we could see Irish Ferries' Isle of Inishmore leaving Milford Haven, on route from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare.

The silhouettes of the two Pemrokeshire isles of Skokholm (left) and Skomer. The paddler turned within a mile of their shores before entering Milford Haven.

The pilot joined the steamer for the final leg within the Haven itself.

Waverley docks at the town of Milford Haven at the entrance to its small harbour.

A careful approach is needed to place the paddler in the narrow stone lock entrance, which leaves the stern out in the tidal stream.

Disembarkation was up a stone ramp, which pierces the quay wall.

Passengers then had to walk across the lock gate to join the waiting coaches for Porthcawl and Penarth.

As the coaches left, preparations were being made to warp Waverley across the entrance so she could take water before steaming home to Glasgow. Turn right outside the Haven, head for the Bishop Rock light then due north...

The steamer berthed at Anderston Quay, Glasgow, bow up-river, at 16.05 on Tuesday 23 October 2001.

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