The 2011 Purser's Tale - Part 2
Tony Gamblin's Notes from on board
September began on the Bristol Channel with a beautiful summer's day and Balmoral cruised from Minehead and Ilfracombe to Lundy Island on what is your scribe's favourite trip. Similar weather conditions prevailed on the following day for a long-day excursion from Weston and Penarth for Ilfracombe and a cruise along North Devon's Exmoor Coast. The ship set out from Bristol and Clevedon on the Saturday in cool and dull conditions, but the increasing wind dictated that she could proceed no further than Penarth- missing for the second year running her annual open day for the resort's Festival of the Sea. After a cruise around the Holm Islands, the vessel waited at anchor for the tide off Penarth before embarking her homeward-bound passengers. A gale warning then led to the decision to seek shelter in Avonmouth Docks the following morning- and here Balmoral remained in what can only be described as horrendous conditions, with the cancellation of all sailings.
On Tuesday 6th September a planned evening charter out of Clevedon was replaced by a static event alongside in Avonmouth, with the kind co-operation of the Harbour Master. It emerged that the charterers were a company specialising in the construction of wind farms, so they could hardly be expected to raise many objections when told that 'wind stopped play'!!!
With strong winds persisting, it became clear that Balmoral would not be able to operate her short series of cruises on the Irish Sea- even if she managed to get there- and with a dire weather forecast for the week ahead the Company decided late on Thursday 8th September to lay the ship up for the season with the cancellation of the planned extra week of sailings on the Bristol Channel. On the Friday, she proceeded to her winter berth at Princes Wharf in Bristol and the next day the crew were signed-off. Thus there was a rather sudden end to what had been a short but encouraging season.