Mid Term Report
Pictures by Martin Longhurst
The main part of Balmoral's Thames season passed off much as scheduled and in reasonable weather conditions, though the calls at Southend were omitted on Sunday 6th July 2008 due to sea conditions and the following day's sailing completely cancelled for the same reason. Due to the port of Folkestone now being closed to commercial traffic, calls from there and Ramsgate were replaced by a direct run from Whitstable to London on Tuesday 8th July. The ship had a scheduled 'off service' day at Tilbury on the Wednesday, but unfortunately lost Thursday's sailing due to the weather - instead sailing light direct to Great Yarmouth to pick her schedule. On Friday 11th July Southwold passengers were once again coached to Harwich, though the rest of the weekend passed without disruption - the Thames season ending a "high" with nearly 600 passengers cruising to London on the Sunday.
Balmoral then departed Tower Pier direct for North Wales and her short season of cruises in connection with the Tall Ships event in Liverpool, but the weather played havoc with her schedule. She only managed a short afternoon cruise from Menai Bridge on Thursday 17th July and was forced to advance her departure time from Liverpool on the Friday in deteriorating weather conditions. Saturday's sailing was completely cancelled and after a good day on the Sunday she lost the main "Tall Ships" cruise on Monday 21st July.
On arrival back in the Bristol Channel, the main season started on a "high" with good loadings in excellent weather conditions. Highlights were the River Parrett cruise from Bridgwater to Lundy and the Avon, Severn and Wye cruise - though this latter trip ended on a damp note with torrential rain on arrival back at both Clevedon and Penarth. The following day, Tuesday 29th July, saw similar wet conditions and with worsening sea conditions the ship sailed directly from Minehead to Swansea, cancelling both her evening cruise out of Porthcawl and the next day's trip to Lundy Island.
Balmoral is attacked by a giant butterfly as prepares to turn to berth at Dunball Wharf, Bridgwater, on 24 July 2008
Turn completed, the steamer comes ahead to complete her manoeuvre
Captain Ted Davies views the River Parrett as the ship heads downstream
The pilot cutter prepares to pick up the Bridgwater pilot
Approaching Lundy, MS Oldenburg passed heading back for Ilfracombe
Safely berthed at Lundy's pier
Balmoral alongside at the end of her voyage at Minehead shortly after sunset
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