Stormy Channel Season

On the last day of July Balmoral called at Weston-Super-Mare, with a close view of the burnt-out Grand Pier, though the expected ‘disaster tourists’ failed to materialise to boost her numbers. On the following day the evening call at Clevedon was abandoned due to wind and sea conditions – with passengers coached home from Penarth- While similar conditions coupled with an exceptionally high tide meant a rare call at Portishead for the coach return. Sunday 3rd August 2008 saw excellent passenger loadings out of Lydney and Sharpness, but the following day the strong winds returned and the vessel was forced to turn back en route to Ilfracombe, though on the following two days she managed to reach Ilfracombe albeit having to cancel the Lundy sector of her trips.

After just two days of uninterrupted sailings, what is likely to prove to be the worst ‘Channel’ weather in living memory returned and the sailings for 9th -11th August were cancelled with the vessel sheltering in Penarth Roads. With Clevedon Pier still untenable, an amended programme was devised for ‘The Glorious’ 12th August, making use of Portishead once again, before Balmoral retreated to Avonmouth Docks for shelter, normal service being resumed on Thursday 14th, albeit starting at Penarth rather than Swansea and with the Bristol City Docks cruise not possible due to late running.

The clear weather was not to last however, on Saturday 18th a short ‘Holms’ cruise out of Clevedon was all that could be offered and on the next day the Lundy leg of the voyage was cancelled. It was then back to Avonmouth for shelter from the storms, with the following three days' sailings cancelled. After just four days of ‘normal’ service (21st-24th August) the complete Bank Holiday Monday programme was abandoned due to sea conditions, as was that of Wednesday 27th, with an amended schedule on both the Tuesday and Thursday of that week (no Swansea or Clevedon calls on both days, with Portishead substituted) There then followed just three days of scheduled sailings (albeit with the evening Clevedon call omitted on the last day of the month, but with Lundy being reached for the first time in over five weeks!).

So ended a month which anyone connected with the ship would prefer to consign to forgotten history!

Balmoral Returns To Ilfracombe
On Wednesday 23rd July 2008,Balmoral steamed from Swansea to Ilfracombe for a cruise to Lundy Island.  At about 12:15, Captain Ted Davies brought Balmoral alongside Ilfracombe Pier, prior to sailing to Lundy. These pictures show her arriving at Ilfracombe.

Pictures by David Waters


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