Ferry from the Mersey

Words and pictures (except where stated) by Martin Longhurst

Waverley's Bristol Channel spring public season came to its conclusion with a single voyage from Penarth to Milford Haven, with a coach return, on Saturday 16 June with about 250 people on board. This was a preparatory move for Sunday's Bird Watchers Charter out of Milford Haven. This visited the islands of Skokholm, Skomer, Grasholme and Ramsey Islands together with the cliffs of St Bride's Bay - a full house!
Then the paddler set off for Liverpool, anchoring in St Bride's Bay before steaming across Cardigan Bay to Holyhead for fuel. She spent Monday night anchored off Llandudno before finally proceding to the River Mersey, where she arrived about 9.30 a.m.

She had to stem the tide for some time before Royal Daffodil cleared
the Mersey Ferries berth to allow the paddler alongside.

The Liver Bird watches as about 550 passengers embark for Waverley's first departure from this port since 1978.

The Mersey pilot boarded before departure.

Bosun Tommy Reilly and Seaman Willie Cumming make up a fender from an old mooring rope, ready for the forthcoming calls at Red Bay.

A strengthening southwesterly wind accompanied this part of the sailing, but this did not deter many from staying on deck to view the North Wales coast.

After a prolonged call at Llandudno to exchange a large number of passengers, the steamer headed west once more, now with over 600 on board. Visibility deteriorated and there was a little rain as we encountered the Isle of Anglesey, just beyond Puffin Island in the foreground.

Within sight of The Skerries lighthouse, Captain Gellatly turned the paddler off Wylfa Power Station, the furthest west that any public sailing had gone, previous cruises turning at Point Lynas. Taking advantage of the improving conditions, Waverley followed the coastline more closely on her return voyage.

This view by Frank Gradwell shows the improved conditions. Puffin Island is in the centre with Great Orme to its left.
Snowdonia dominates this view of the channel between Puffin Island (left) and Anglesey.


Great Orme's Head by Frank Gradwell
Approaching Llandudno Pier on the return voyage by Frank Gradwell

Passing Little Orme's Head by Frank Gradwell
Nearing the Formby Buoy one of the floats on the port paddle wheel broke and Waverley anchored for about 30 minutes while the damage received attention from the Engineers.

Waverley re-entered the River Mersey at dusk, with the Liverpool shore to the left and the Cheshire shore opposite.

On arrival back at the Pier Head, the steamer took the Isle of Man berth, which the seacat Rapide had cleared, for us. The paddler spent the night alongside Mersey Ferries' Woodside Pier on the Wirral shore.
Conditions on Wednesday morning were less fair, but it was still possible for the short day cruise to go ahead, although passengers were warned that it might not be possible to get beyond the Mersey Bar. However, the sea was calmer than expected and a sailing to "off Rhyl" was given, and the Blackpool Tower was just visible. The evening jazz cruise was very popular, with many fans of the Merseysippi Band in evidence.
Thanks are due to the Liverpool Daily Post, Mersey Ferries and Seacat for their support and co-operation in making this visit possible.

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