Last Clyde Cruises of the Millennium

by Mike MacKenzie

The last week of the Clyde season had a bad start on Monday 23rd August when a combination of planned leave and unexpected sick leave left the crew below the minimum required by the MCA rules and the day’s cruise had to be cancelled. That was indeed a pity as the weather was glorious and the views of the Ayrshire coast and Ailsa Craig would have been impressive. The ship sailed light to Ayr during the day so that Tuesday’s cruise to Tarbert and Loch Fyne took place as normal and again with glorious weather.

Wednesday (Campbeltown and Sanda) was mild but cloudy and damp all day and showery in the afternoon - indeed a large party of walkers from Ayr OIR got quite wet during their time in Brodick. On Thursday (Arran, Holy Isle and Pladda) it was again cloudy and damp with a lot of rain evident, though the ship seemed to escape the worst of it. On Friday Graeme Gellatly had returned from leave, with Luke Davies as First Officer. The weather was a bit brighter for the usual Rothesay run and in the evening a private charter with entertainment was reported to be well-behaved and not too noisy.

During the week two members of the Deck Crew who have served for several seasons left the ship to take up career opportunities elsewhere and we wish them well in this.

Saturday was a glorious day and there were 887 on board when we arrived at Dunoon at lunchtime, most of them to disembark to visit the Cowal Games. After the last call at Tighnabruaich for the season, WAVERLEY lay at Dunoon for nearly three hours and then took the Cowal Games visitors back up the river, another long day. Sunday morning was showery but the afternoon and evening were fine. Unlike the previous Sunday when Loch Goil had been denied us by the Queen’s Harbourmaster because of military exercises, this time we were allowed as far as Carrick Castle.

Monday 30th August was dull and showery for most of the day. We had the Bank Holiday cruise from Glasgow, calling at Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay, Largs and Brodick, with a cruise to Holy Isle and Pladda. Helendburgh gave us a reasonable number of passengers and Largs provided a good crowd but numbers at Dunoon and Rothesay were rather small. By the time we left Helensburgh in the evening we were about 30 minutes late and numbers on board were fairly low, but the weather had improved, we were running with the breeze and it was very pleasant out on deck. We had noticed that for a couple of days there had been some trouble in opening and closing Bell’s Bridge, an inflatable boat being used to tow it round, so it was not too much of a surprise to hear that we would not be returning to Anderston Quay. Instead we nosed into King George V Dock and worked carefully astern round the dock wall to lie alongside Shieldhall Wharf, facing down river. The low tide added to the difficulties of getting gangways ashore in an unfamiliar setting. Coaches were waiting to take passengers to Glasgow’s Central Station, where there was a dash for "last trains", and to Anderston Quay. Transport had also been hired to ferry stores from Anderston Quay to Shieldhall in readiness for WAVERLEY’s departure for the South Coast on the following morning.

So that’s it on the Clyde until BALMORAL’s cruise on 24th September.

Our thanks to the members of the Deck Crew, the Stewards, the Engineers and Firemen team, the Shopkeepers, the volunteers, the Purser and his assistants, the Masters and Officers on the Bridge, and others behind the scenes, for their efforts during the season.  Patience and good humour have been maintained in spite of sometimes long hours and hard physical work and the passengers who have crossed the gangways have been treated with care and consideration.  Many thanks for giving us great pleasure.

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