Last Weekend on the Clyde

Report by Martin Longhurst



Waiting to sail on Saturday 17 October



Waverley arrived back on the Clyde on Wednesday 13 October 2009, berthing first at Greenock before proceeding to Glasgow Science Centre.   The voyage north had been undertaken by Captain Ian Clark, assisted as Chief Officer by his son, Bruce.

The Friday saw two short cruises from the Science Centre to Clydebank, where the paddler was turned by a tug.   These were planned as an experiment to assess the value of this offering as it was the last day of Glasgow’s school half-term holiday.   Unfortunately only 102 sailed on the first and 90 on the second sailing.

The weekend saw a return to traditional timetabling, with Saturday’s cruise taking the paddler from Glasgow to Greenock, Helensburgh, Kilcreggan, Blairmore and towards Arrochar and Lochgoilhead.   By now, Captain Andy O’Brian had taken over the role of Chief Officer.     It was a cold, bright day and just over 600 were aboard leaving Blairmore.   The afternoon cruise was notable for two visits to Carrick Castle on Loch Goil.   Captain Clark turned the steamer about half a mile from Arrochar which lies at the head of Loch Long.   After her arrival back at Glasgow, the steamer offered a non-landing show boat evening cruise which carried about 150 revellers.

Chief Engineer Gordon Reid shows off his uniform


Sunday was a grey day as Waverley departed Glasgow for Greenock, Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay for time ashore at Tighnabruiach.   Rain had been forecast and it started in earnest as the steamer departed Greenock.   There was a little delay at Dunoon awaiting the departure of the car ferry Jupiter, to free the berth at the Old Pier.   By the time we reached the Kyles of Bute, the rain had eased to a very fine drizzle and subsequently stopped altogether by the time we tied up at Tighnabruaich.   Although we were about 15 minutes late arriving, Captain Clark decided to give us the scheduled 30 minutes ashore – really only just time to buy an ice cream from Suzy’s Tea Room.   The evening turned out to be very pleasant and we were able to sit on deck all the way back to Glasgow.

Leaving Dunoon HMS Illustrious steamed past on exercise

There was quite a lot of heavy rain overnight which washed a considerable amount of detritus into the River Clyde.  It was a grey, overcast morning but the Waverley’s first scheduled cruise of the day left the Science Centre at 11.00 just in the dry with over 300 on board.  

HMS Defender on the stocks at Govan awaiting her launch

Unfortunately, we had not proceeded very far more the rain started again.   After Bowling the visibility closed in and we retreated below into the warm and dry.   The objective of the cruise was to view Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 alongside at Greenock.   Commentator Iain Quinn naturally mentioned the original Queen Mary II, the Clyde turbine steamer.  



The paddler proudly steamed past the new Cunarder, saluting her with her steam whistle, before turning just east of Gourock.   The paddler then returned to Glasgow, pausing once more to view the magnificent bulk of the QM2.

 The paddler made a further trip to view the QM2’s departure and associated fireworks, leaving Glasgow at 16.00 and also picking up from Greenock’s Custom House Quay, the excellent loadings bringing in a fantastic revenue boost for the steamer's final day in public service.

The final sail of the season was on Wednesday 21 October, on charter to BVT, to view the launch of HMS Defender from their Govan Yard.   To meet the requirements of the charterer, the steamer moved to the north bank of the Clyde to commence her sailing.   About 350 invited guests (mainly naval officers) joined the steamer at about 12.30, walking down from the Crowne Plaza Hotel.   Waverley cruised downstream to be turned by two tugs by the mouth of the River Cart.   Having turned she returned to the Govan, berthing in Fairfields Basin to disembark the launching party before crossing again to the north bank at Meadowside Quay to watch the launch take place.   Finally back to the Science Centre to berth for the winter with her bows downstream.   For a full account visit the PSPS Scottish Branch Blog.

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