South Coast & Thames Part 4
Report and picture by Martin Longhurst
As we were leaving the quayside at Southampton on Sunday 12 September 2010, we overheard Captain O’Brian telling a docker that the weather forecast for the early part of the week was poor. This turned out to be correct and the steamer stayed tied up at Berth 49 until the morning of the Thursday. Monday was a planned off-service day but unfortunately the entire sailings for Tuesday and Wednesday had to be cancelled in the face of high winds. Away in the West Country, Balmoral made her last voyage of the season from Penarth, Portishead (in place of Clevedon) to Bristol on the Wednesday and moved safely to her winter berth the following day.
Things had settled down completely by Thursday morning and Waverley was able to take up service at Portsmouth Harbour. A good number of passengers were on board as she sailed in bright conditions with light airs. The first call at Yarmouth again produced a large crowd and soon we were in the open sea heading for Bournemouth. The sea was calm and the call went ahead unhindered. Across the Bay to Swanage where excursionists were able to change to a steam train to Corfe Castle. On to the west, the firing range was in action so we had to keep out to sea on the way to Lulworth. At three o’clock Captain O’Brian announced that the Commanding Officer had ceased firing for the day and we able to head straight for the Cove and then return by the inshore route. Chris Philips (of Wight) gave his well researched commentary as we cruised along the Jurassic Coast once again.
As we rounded Durleston Head, approaching Swanage once again, the local trip boat Solent Scene was spotted heading for the Pier. Unfortunately she uses the same berth as the paddler, so we had no alternative but to wait off until she set sail again. This put the Waverley about 15 minutes behind time and this deficit stayed with us to Portsmouth despite some fast steaming.
Passing Cowes Purser Jim announced that sunset at 7.15 meant autumn was here