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Return to Inveraray

Words and Pictures by Martin Longhurst

(except where stated)

Friday 20 April dawn with blue skies and a bright sun.  About 9.30 a.m., Waverley tied up at Largs Pier.  As this is currently a work site, passengers had to wait at the pier gates the steamer.  Promptly at 10.00, the paddler set sail for Rothesay.  Visibility was crystal clear and the remaining snow on Goatfell, the Isle of Arran, could clearly be seen.

After the call at Rothesay, Waverley headed for the Kyles.  Following the excitement of Saturday's sailing, Captain Gellatly had been in close contact with the Clyde Ports Authority. The moorings of the buoys had been tightened in the meantime, and the Pilot cutter Gantocks was in attendance to observe the passage through the Narrows.  

The situation had improved, but it was clear that the width of the channel was less than that intended.

The new skylight just ahead of the Pursers Office.

The view of the skylight from within the Engine Room

Second Engineer Steve Leigh polishes the telegraph

After Tighnabruaich, the steamer set course for Tarbert, Ardrishaig and on to Inveraray, for Waverley's first call at the Argyll town since 1996.   This was also the first 'last call' of the season, marked in traditional manner by three long whistle blasts as the paddler backed away from the pier.

Alongside at Ardrishaig (by Frank Gradwell)

Leaving Ardrishaig (by Frank Gradwell)

Arriving at Inveraray (by Frank Gradwell)

Waverley alongside Inveraray Pier with the museum ship Arctic Penguin in the foreground

There was an opportunity for the people of Inveraray to sail on Waverley to Ardrishaig and Tarbert with return by West Coast Motors coach.  One passenger was nearly left behind buying kippers on Tarbert Pier.  Under unbroken blue skies, the paddler crossed Loch Fyne to enter the Kyles of Bute once more.  After calls at Tignabruiach and Rothesay, the steamer tied up at Largs for the night.

Saturday 21 April - Public Charter by Clyde River Sailing Club

This was a sailing arranged by and for steamer enthusiasts.  From Largs, Waverley, under the command of Captain Steve Mishel for the weekend, made the short trip northward to Wemyss Bay Pier with around 200 passengers.   Here about 150 joined the ship at this unusual calling point for the paddler.

In the morning Captain Mishel berthed the paddler bow in at Wemyss Bay

The CalMac gangway was used for embarkation

Then we sailed across the Firth to Toward before cruising the Kyles on the unusual eastern bank, passing close to Ardyne.  The buoys at The Narrows had been adjusted once more and Captain Mishel was able to pass through at Full Ahead. Two calls were made at Tighnabruaich Pier, to allow those who wanted to go ashore to photograph the steamer in action.

Then southward to Arran, passing close to Skipness on the way to Lochranza for a rendezvous with the CalMac ferry Loch Striven.

Then around the Cock of Arran to Brodick.   On the way round, Waverley passed through the Measured Mile in 4 minutes 5 seconds, just over 14.5 knots. 

As the wind grew colder, more passengers clustered round the open Engine Room skylight to take advantage of the constant heat!

Passengers were given about an hour ashore in Brodick during which Waverley made a couple of circuits of Brodick Bay for the benefit of photographers.

Left: Admire the ropework around the handrails of the Landing Platform steps made by Bosun Tommy Reilly

Right: Special broth (or was it hot air?) for the steamer enthusiasts

After Brodick, the weather deteroirated with a strongish wind setting up a swell from the south. The next scheduled call was Milport, but these conditions precluded this.  Instead the steamer sailed round Wee Cumbrae before crossing to Kilchattan Bay.  Waverley followed the eastern coast of Bute on the way to Toward.   She hugged the Cowal coast north to Innellan and almost to Dunoon before crossing the Firth to Inverkip and turning south to Wemyss Bay once more.

With the south westerly wind, Captain Mishel berthed stern in for the evening call at Wemyss Bay

The tide was somewhat lower meaning Waverley's gangway had to be used for the disembarkation

The final leg was made to Largs into the wind.  In the evening, Waverley had been chartered by the Fairlee Yatch Club to celebrate thie 40th Anniversary.  Despite the bad conditions they enjoyed their trip because they had brought their heavy weather gear with them.

Sunday 22 April

Only 40 souls braved the rain to join the steamer at Ayr.  The wind of the previous night had dropped completely and the sea was an oily calm as the steamer set course for Brodick.  Unfortunately, the overnight rain continued to fall. 24 passengers and a black and white dog joined the ship here for Largs, Dunoon and Carrick Castle.

Fortunately rather more passengers were forthcoming at Largs.  As there was plenty of time in hand, Waverley was able to revist Innenllan on the way to Dunoon, where she arrived just ahead of CalMac's Jupiter inbound from Gourock.  

After the passage up and down Lochs Long and Goil to Carrick Castle, there was time for a turn around Holy Loch where Western Ferries' Sound of Shuna was lying at Kilmun Pier.

Joe "don't put this on the web site" McKendrick told me of the tribute paid to Captain Campbell of Kilmun, one of the founders of White Funnel Steamers, by Captain Davis of the Balmoral.

The steamer continued to Dunoon, Largs and Brodick, where she had to wait for CalMac's Caledonian Isles to clear the Pier for Ardrossan. In the foreground, one of Waverley's pilot ladders is strung out to receive attention.

Alongside Brodick Pier, the windsock hung motionless. The paddler regained Ayr on time at 9 pm, just as dusk fell. The turn in the Harbour was accomplished with ease in the flat calm conditions.

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