South Coast & Thames Part 1

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

Waverley enjoyed a good passage south, arriving without diversion, at Weymouth at about 7 p.m. on Wednesday 2 September 2010.  After a day off service, her South Coast season started at 13.00 on Thursday for a well patronised afternoon sail along the Jurassic Coast cruise to Lulworth and back. Subsequently the paddler offered an evening cruise to Bournemouth and Southampton with coach return.


Alongside Weymouth Pleasure Pier on 3 September 2010 (Geoffrey Vickery)


Portland Bill Lighthouse (Geoffrey Vickery)

The steamer’s normal berth at Southampton was not immediately available so for her first day she sailed from Berth 104 instead of Berth 49.   There were four cruise liners in port on Saturday morning causing mayhem to Southampton’s traffic and it took 45 minutes for the transfer bus, to pick up any passengers going to the advertised berth, to get from Berth 49 to Berth 104.   The remainder of the Round the Island cruise went ahead with the timing deficit gradually being eroded.   The ship had a good crowd on board but the number of passengers to be exchanged at Yarmouth caused further delay.   The passage around the Island started via The Needles.   

Having arrived back at berth 104 on Saturday evening, Waverley’s first move on Sunday was to move to Berth 49 for her departure to Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Swanage and Weymouth.   She moved off astern a few minutes after time with an unpromising weather forecast.  


A Southampton bound Red Jet speeds towards the tankers moored at Fawley

The passage to Yarmouth was made in good time but it became apparent after clearing The Needles that sea conditions were worsening.   Approaching Bournemouth the report from the Pier indicated the call would not be possible.   A slow passage towards Swanage followed so as not to have to lie alongside the pier for an extended period.   This took us near the Poole harbour bar and a local trip boat was observed turning back rather than carrying on to Swanage.   Leaving the relative shelter of Studland Bay, it seemed unlikely that a successful call at the Dorset resort would be possible.   Captain O’Brian started his approach to the Pier but turned away after observing the swell running along its face.  

The steamer then headed south for a mile or so to gauge the likely conditions to the west.   The forecast was for deterioration, so the prudent course was to head for the sheltered waters of the Solent.   This was a decision many passengers appreciated as they were finding the sea conditions somewhat uncomfortable.   Back inside The Needles, Purser Jim McFadzean (now in his last season after 22 years of service) announced we were heading for a Portsmouth Harbour cruise.   This was quite enjoyable as there were a good number of warships to observe, either undergoing maintenance or awaiting their next call to duty.  


The Fleet’s in!


Black and Wight – Black Watch heads for warmer climes while Wight Sky heads for Yarmouth

Then back west to Yarmouth to give Southampton passengers a couple of hours ashore while we waited for the 13 ramblers to return for the advertised sailing time of 20.10,   In the event everyone was on board in good time and the steamer headed back to Southampton.   This year, it has not been possible to arrange special parking for Waverley passengers at Southampton, so one has to use the Cruise Terminal Short Stay Parking at £10 a day.

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