Nosing into Lulworth

Words and Pictures by Martin Longhurst

Waverley spent Monday 9 September 2002 off service at Southampton, which was just as well as it was very wet and windy all day. Tuesady saw a restoration of the previous good weather and the paddler was able to complete her scheduled sailings to Sandown and Portsmouth Harbour from Swanage and Bournemouth.

On Wednesday a private charter was given from Bournemouth to Portmouth, rounding the Needles as far as Freshwater Bay and thence via the Solent.

On Thursday she returned to public service from Portsmouth to Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Swanage and Lulworth Cove. At sailing time, the Queen's Harbour Master held the Waverley to allow the departure of the Commodore Goodwill for the Channel Islands.

A further delay ensued to allow the Naval patrol vessel Guernsey to sail (slowly) out of the Harbour. This meant we left the berth just over 15 minutes late.

Waverley's exit from the Harbour was assisted by the launch Peter James

A family snapshot taken on deck

Approaching Yarmouth, Waverley turned about to stem the ebbing tide in order to take the Pier. The main channel out of the Harbour runs parallel to the Pier and just as the steamer was making her turning approach a small cabin cruiser was coming out, forcing Captain Colledge to reduce speed, losing steerage way. The easterly wind soon caught the bow, putting the paddler on the wrong course. The engine was reversed but the easterly wind made getting into position to make a fresh approach to the Pier very difficult. Finally, this was achieved and the effort was rewarded by a healthy pick-up.

The final approach to Bournemouth Pier as close as possible to the Landing Stage

Note how far the paddler has moved off the Pier under the influence of the easterly wind

Now about three-quarters of an hour late, Waverley headed for Bournemouth, taking the westerly berth astern of Croson's Poole Belle. Then the short hop to Swanage with out about 580 on board. Approaching St Alban's Head the red flag was flying indicating that firing was taking place on the Lulworth Range. This meant the steamer had to go six miles out to sea to avoid the Danger Zone. Despite the late running the crew were determined to give the full cruise. Unfortunately it was very misty and we soon lost sight of the cliffs.

Note the waves breaking around the eastern side of the mouth of the Cove

Meanwhile small boats can be seen within the Cove on the western side

Returning to the coast from the south the mouth of Lulworth Cove could be seen looming out of the mist. Conditions were favourable and Captain Colledge was able to put the bow just inside the Cove, while Commentator/Quartermaster Quinn reminded us of past exploits of paddlers at this spot.

Some good luck at last - Firing Control relented and we were able to return to Swanage in shore, keeping the cliffs in sight through the mist.

So back to Swanage and Bournemouth, where the sheer volume of traffic added a further 15 minutes delay, putting us an hour down leaving Bournemouth.

Yarmouth Pier was taken without difficulty and soon we were on the final public leg to Portsmouth. Yet again the Queen's Harbour Master intervened and we had to wait for Britanny Ferries Bretagne to clear the Harbour mouth before we could enter. Final arrival was some 75 minutes in arrears. The crew's day was not over, however, as the paddler was to sail light for Southampton ready for Friday's sailing.

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