Bristol Channel 2

Report by Martin Longhurst

Waverley had a good but uneventful week until Friday 12 June 2009 when the outward sailing times had to be advanced by 30 minutes, meaning that departure time from Penarth had to be amended from 08.15 to 07.45, owing to tidal conditions at Minehead.   Although most ticket holders were phoned and others found out from the notice at the end of the pier, unfortunately there were about 40 disappointed passengers still left behind.

Saturday saw the steamer locked into Newport Docks.   At Newport all passengers have to join the ship by coach from a town centre car park.   Unfortunately two coaches were misdirected inside the Docks and by the time they had been redirected to the right berth, a very substantial delay was incurred.   Then there were difficulties manoeuvring the steamer from her confined berth, as she was packed in between two other vessels.   Finally, she got clear and steamed towards the lock, then to be further delayed while a small problem in the Engine Room which was soon fixed by the Engineers.

Once at sea, she headed for Penarth where she arrived over an hour and a half late.   Fortunately there were still 140 people waiting.   By careful adjustments to the rest of the day’s timetable, the paddler was able to give the remaining elements of the schedule, including a coastal cruise from Ilfracombe and a Showboat cruise from Penarth.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny as the Waverley headed for Porthcawl to start her day’s sailing at 10.00.   Over 250 joined the ship here.   Promptly the steamer headed west for Swansea.   The approach to the berth here is quite tricky.    The steamer is headed towards the lock entrance to the Docks, and brought against the knuckle on her port side.   The stern line is landed and used to haul the ship astern round the knuckle before she berths adjacent to the disused linkspan of the ferry terminal.  

There was a large crowd to join the ship here and this and the complicated manoeuvre put the paddler about 25 minutes late.    She headed south for Ilfracombe across a lively Atlantic swell which set her rolling nicely.   Soon we made our landfall and berthed at the Stone Bench, the inner steamer berth.   Most of the nearly 600 on board disembarked but we soon sailed for the mystic isle of Lundy with over 250.

As arrival back at Porthcawl had to be before one hour after sunset (and there had to be sufficient water) the departure time from Lundy had to be kept at 17.00.   Nevertheless, we managed two pints of Lundy Experience/Lundy Light each and a quick squint at Lundy’s new colt, Harry, peacefully grazing in his field.   I was wearing my T-shirt from The Old Forge at Inverie (the remotest pub on the British mainland) so it has now also visited another of our remotest watering holes!

The return voyage proceeded accompanied by the sight of the setting sun.   The calls at Swansea and Porthcawl were successful and the steamer headed back to Swansea Docks for two days off service, following the cancellation of a charter planned for Tuesday.

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