South Coast & Thames Part 3

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

On 10 September 2010 Waverley left Southampton for her usual Friday cruise to The Needles.   The call at Portsmouth was again made with the aid of the Gosport Ferry Spirit of Portsmouth, the Wightlink terminal being full of festival goers being attended to by British Transport Police sniffer dogs and the like.   The paddler steamed on for Yarmouth, her last call before The Needles.   Approaching the Island pier, an announcement was made that the Captain and Harbour Master had agreed that in the prevailing wind and tidal conditions, it would not be a good idea to attempt to berth.   So the steamer headed straight past and on to view the chalk pinnacles.   With the extra time gained by not calling at Yarmouth, the steamer was able to give a slightly longer cruise, turning in boisterous conditions off Freshwater Bay.

The following day Waverley followed the same pattern of calls but with the objective of a Round the Island sailing from Yarmouth.   Today the Wightlink terminal was described as “deserted” but nevertheless boarding was still via the Spirit of Portsmouth, at Wightlink’s request.   From Yarmouth we headed west into a stiff wind and turned to run down the West Wight coast to St Catherine’s Point.   Conditions were again boisterous but the rain held off until we approached the Island’s southernmost point.   Having rounded the Point, Captain O’Brian announced that the adverse tide would mean that arrival back at Yarmouth would be delayed until eight o’clock and consequently he had decided to turn back to Yarmouth to regain the timetable.   This decision paid off as we were able to leave Yarmouth at the scheduled time of 17.40.


Rounding The Needles on the way back to Yarmouth


Heading into the sunset as Waverley turns in Portsmouth Harbour

Sunday’s cruise departed Southampton and the ship headed direct to Yarmouth as planned.   Conditions were perfect as she headed down Southampton Water.   Good numbers travelled to Swanage as it was the Swanage Railway’s Steam Gala this weekend.   Adverse tides held the steamer back as she headed west so we only had a bare hour ashore in Weymouth today.  


Waverley and Condor 10 seeing eye to eye at Weymouth

As the tide had now turned, we had to punch the tide eastward.   As usual, a single journey to Swanage was offered with coach return.   As is well known, the sand at Bournemouth has been building up around the pier for some years, as a result of beach replenishment.   On this occasion Waverley was unable to berth owing to lack of water.   So as she headed east for Yarmouth, Purser Jim McFadzean was making many phone calls to arrange alternative transport arrangements.   Dolphin Coaches were able to oblige by taking those ashore in Bournemouth home (via the Lymington ferry in the case of Yarmouth passengers) and to pick up those returning to Bournemouth from Lymington.   Arrival at Yarmouth was just before eight o’clock, allowing passengers a good chance of joining the 20.15 ferry to Lymington.   The final sector to Southampton was uneventful, with the steamer about to have an off-service day on the Monday.

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