The weather forecasts unfortunately were all too correct. Waverley was unable to sail from Tilbury until Tuesday morning (12 October 2004), making landfall at Southampton for fuel. From there she managed to reach Weymouth on Wednesday afternoon, where she waited about 36 hours for the seas to moderate.
Finally, she left Weymouth on Friday morning in time to carry out Saturday's evening cruise. Regrettably, Captain Colledge was unable to proceed further west than Newlyn, near Penzance in Cornwall, due to 12 foot swell conditions off Land's End, which persisted until late on Sunday. By this time had she had missed the entire Bristol Channel autumn programme, so it was planned for her to steam straight back to Glasgow.
Meanwhile, heroic efforts were made to recommission the Balmoral, which had been laid up at Bristol. A scratch crew was formed, commanded by Captain Kit Lee (recalled from leave), with some members of Waverley's catering staff. She had been on static charter at Bristol but sailed at 7.30 p.m. to anchor off for Saturday's cruises in the Upper Channel.
Balmoral continued in service on Sunday, sailing from Clevedon and Penarth to Ilfracombe and Lundy Island. Over 500 were on board from Penarth and about 350 steamed out to the 'mystic isle.' Whilst those on Lundy enjoyed a good deal of sunshine, passengers in the Devon resort apparently suffered some rain.
Balmoral at Lundy Pier 17 October 2004
During the return passage the winning tickets of the Balmoral Grand Draw were picked out of a big blue sack by 90 year old Sid Robinson. Over £7,000 was raised - thanks are due to Promoter Alec Lewis and the many ticket sellers.
As Balmoral was to return to lay-up at Bristol, Monday's sail was modified to a return trip from Clevedon and Penarth to the Gower instead of the planned single trip to Milford Haven, with coach return. It was planned to carry passengers on the final leg up the River Avon to Bristol, but in the event the Port Authority declined to permit this. Nevertheless, special thanks are due to Captain Lee and the rest of his crew for turning to in difficult circumstances to avoid disappointing so many passengers. In the event, when Balmoral arrived at Bristol light ship, technical difficulties with the lock prevented her entering and she had to return to Portishead to await a further attempt, which was successful.
Back on the Waverley, she managed to round Land's End over Sunday night and headed for Milford Haven to take fuel early on Monday. The paddler then steamed to Glasgow direct, arriving at her Pacific Quay berth during Tuesday morning, just before the onset of more rough weather. And so both ships were safely laid up ready for winter work to commence when their crews return from well earned leave.
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