South Coast - Part 1

Report by Martin Longhurst

Waverley’s last day on the Clyde on Monday 31 August 2009 was considerably disrupted by weather conditions.  The scheduled sailing to Ailsa Craig was replaced by a cruise to Loch Striven and the Holy Loch, terminating at Fairlee instead of Ayr.                     

The paddler then set out for the south at 21.00.   Unfortunately the strong winds caused the steamer to seek shelter at Rosslare from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening.   Then she found a weather window and was able to round Land’s End at 08.00 on Friday morning.   Unfortunately this meant Waverley was unable to give her Friday sails from Weymouth or Bournemouth.   She finally tied up at Southampton’s Berth 48 at 01.00 on Saturday morning.

The late switch from the Western Docks to the Eastern Docks caused a little delay as passengers found their way to the re-assigned berth.   The steamer set out for Portsmouth about 15 minutes late, but matters were complicated here as the Station Pier was undergoing reconstruction to suit the new catamarans Wight Ryders 1 & 2.   Consequently only one berth is available and this is also used by the half-hourly ferries to Ryde.   This meant that the paddler had to wait for a suitable gap in the service to go alongside.   This caused a 45 minute delay which was compounded by the high tide meaning only one gangway could be used.    Then it was off to Yarmouth where, after an exchange of passengers, the steamer left for her Round the Island excursion with over 500 on board.

Leaving Yarmouth, after the counter-clockwise circumnavigation, the steamer proceeded slowly back to Portsmouth, having been advised of a late slot at the single berth.    Finally, she completed her voyage back to Southampton, arriving some 85 minutes late.

Sunday saw the Waverley due to leave Southampton bright and early for her long day cruise to Weymouth and back.   A small container ship was inbound at our departure time of 09.00, so VTS asked Captain O’Brian to wait for it to pass before going astern into the main channel.  This put us 10 minutes late, a deficit which remained constant through to Weymouth.   It was a fairly quiet sail, with the early promise of about 120 from Southampton, not lived up to by the pick ups at the succeeding piers of Yarmouth, Bournemouth and Swanage.

The call at Swanage followed renovation works at the pier, being the paddler’s first call since 2005.   The Mayor and Mayoress of Swanage joined the ship for the sail along the Jurassic Coast to Weymouth.    Just over an hour ashore was given at Weymouth before the steamer reversed her course.    

Alongside Weymouth's Pleasure Pier (Ashley Gill)

There were excellent views of the strata of the Dorset coast and commentator Chris Philips pointed out the rebuilt Cavell Tower which stood out well in the brilliant sunshine.    The paddler was timed at 14 knots on the Durlestone Head measured mile on her way to Swanage.   Here two coach loads of Weymouth disembarked here following their afternoon cruise.   Then north-east across Swanage Bay back to the western berth of Bournemouth Pier for a brief call before heading for the Garden Isle.   

The evening call at Bournemouth (Ashley Gill)

Departure for Yarmouth (Ashley Gill)

Excellent visibility gave us a clear view of Hengistbury Head before we rounded Hurst Spit and passed through the narrows at 18 knots over the ground with the tide flooding strongly.   Unfortunately a passenger had been taken ill and there was a delay while paramedics gave him treatment and evacuated him.

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