Misty Blue

Words and Pictures by Martin Longhurst

The continuing high pressure brought calm seas for the Waverley, but at the price of grey skies and limited visibility. Occasionally the sun broke through bringing a little blue sky.

After taking fuel after the conclusion of service at Southampton on Sunday night 15 September 2002, the paddler sailed to anchor off Worthing ready for Monday's cruise from this rare Sussex pier. Some 415 joined the ship here for the cruise to Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Swanage and Lulworth Cove. Again the highest number was carried between Bournemouth and Swanage.

Tuesday's and Wednesday's sailings went ahead as scheduled, with exception that Swanage passengers were coached home from Bournemouth on Wednesday, owing to sea conditions. The steamer spent the night at Southampton, after taking bunkers there, before positioning to Portsmouth for Thursday's cruise.

This week we were not significantly delayed leaving Portsmouth, which was just as well as a prompt arrival back in the evening was essential to guarantee a berth at the Station Pier.

Nevertheless, there was a short delay to allow the Commodore Goodwill to leave ahead of us, before the

Blue Launch Colin James assisted us to turn and leave the Harbour.

As we turned we had a good view of ships in HM Dockyard

Looking the other way, Wightlink's FastCat Shanklin arrives, passing the two original catamarans, Our Lady Patricia and Our Lady Pamela, and their largest car ferry, St Clare, all morred on the pontoon opposite the Station Pier

Out in the Solent we saw the withdrawn P&O Ferries vessel Pride of Cherbourg (1) at anchor awaiting her delivery voyage to the Red Sea, in the distance, as St Cecilia heads for Portsmouth.

Good time was made to Yarmouth, where all passengers were picked up in good time for an on-time departure. Bournemouth was reached 30 minutes before departure, catching out the rope men. One ran up just in time to pull first the head rope and then the stern line. Unfortunately in the inevitable haste, the ropes had been secured too close together to allow the ship to be hauled in. Captain Colledge manoeuvred the stern towards the pier to allow the rope to be shifted up to the far end. Finally alongside, there was still plenty of time to effect the safe exchange of passengers before an on time departure.

Crossing Poole Bay, the paddler started to roll although conditions were still bright and sunny. However, it was deemed inadvisable to continue further westward than Swanage lest someone fall and injure themselves. So, instead of Lulworth Cove, the steamer headed for the sheltered waters of Poole Harbour.

At the entrance to the Poole Channel we met the fast catamaran Condor Vitesse outward bound for the Channel Islands.

Heading down the Channel we picked up the pilot from the cutter Vandyke.

The entrance to Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world - second only to Sydney, Australia - is crossed by the Sandbanks chain ferry Bramble Bush Bay. On board was a Wilts & Dorset double decker on route from Bournemouth to Swanage. Inside the Harbour there was a fair number of pleasure boats criss-crossing about on various trips, including the yellow hulled Maid of the Harbour.

Waverley proceeded into the Harbour via the North Channel, the original channel but now rarely used by commercial vessels.

Just off the cross-Channel ferry berth we met up with the Poole Harbour Commissioner's tug Herbert Ballam. She was named after a former Commissioner. After she had assisted us round, we returned to the open sea along the more southerly Main Channel, closer to Brownsea Island.

And so back to Swanage and thence to Bournemouth, where the pier men were ready this time, despite our early arrival. Transfer of passengers - there were 522 into Bournemouth - took up all the time til scheduled departure at 17.15. A swift passage to Yarmouth and Portsmouth followed with final arrival about 20 minutes ahead of time. After disembarking her passengers, the paddler returned light to Southampton for Friday's sailing.

And finally... the world's first steam driven dancing teddy bear!

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