South Coast Report
Report by Martin Longhurst
Waverley alongside Southampton's Berth 104
Waverley completed her Clyde season with a record breaking Cowal Games weekend. Then she sailed overnight to Belfast for an evening charter to the Harbour Commissioners the following evening. Finally, a 31 hour sail to Weymouth brought her into position to commence her South Coast season.
This commenced on Friday 5 September 2003 with an afternoon cruise out of Weymouth, which attracted 300 passengers. Then a further 300 took the one-way sail to Southampton with coach return. Berthing arrangements at Southampton had been changed as it was not possible to use her previous berth in the Eastern Docks this year. ABP had, however, been able to make arrangements for her to use Berth 104 in the Western Docks. On Saturday 6 September, the Royal Yacht Squadron of Cowes chartered the paddler for the Round the Island cruise from Yarmouth, so the public sailing was restricted to Southampton-Portsmouth-Yarmouth. Nevertheless about 200 took this sailing.
The weather forecast for Sunday had been appalling all week, but at the last moment the bad weather failed to materialise. So with flat calm seas and blue skies we headed west from Southampton to Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Swanage and Weymouth. Despite the forecast, some 500 took the plunge and joined the steamer.
SS Shieldhall alongside her berth
Queen Elizabeth 2 at the Ocean Terminal
Steaming west along the Dorset Coast
Exaggeration at Weymouth's Pleasure Pier
An awkward regulation for a paddle steamer!
Passing Durdle Door on the return leg
Croson's Poole Belle leaves Swanage Pier as Waverley berths
Dusk at the Needles
Back at Southampton
On arrival back at Southampton a fuel tanker was waiting as Waverley was to sail as soon as possible to Ryde Roads for a night at anchor, prior to making passage eastward to Worthing. The favourable weather continued and the planned sailing to Yarmouth, Swanage and Lulworth was possible.
Tuesday's and Wednesday's sailings went ahead as scheduled except that a heavy swell at Bournemouth precluded passenger transfer on Wednesday evening. Six coach loads had to be coached home from Swanage. Thursday saw the paddler at Portsmouth for a cruise to Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Swanage and Lulworth.
Pride of Cherbourg entering Portsmouth Harbour while Waverley waits for clearance
One of the old harbour ferries, Gosport Queen
The weather was generally grey all day with some light showers in the morning, but numbers were good.
Shortly after leaving Swanage, the Army could be heard firing their tank's guns at the Lulworth range. Consequently, the steamer had to maintain a good distance from the coast before turning in to head straight for the mouth of the cove.
Captain Colledge was able to put the steamer's bow between the rocks either side of the entrance before going astern to clear. On the return passage, the Army kindly stopped firing long enough for us to follow the line of cliffs back to Swanage.
Wightlink's Cenred enters Yarmouth Harbour
Red Eagle heads for Cowes
The illumination from the new paddlebox light catches the paddles
The paddler sailing from Portsmouth, light for Southampton
Good weather returned for the weekend bring near capacity crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday saw the first public Round the Island sailing from Southampton, Portsmouth and Yarmouth.
St Faith heads for Fishbourne
Unsuitable for busy sailings, Fastcat Ryde and Fastcat Shanklin await quieter times
Our Lady Pamela leaves for Ryde Pier while Red Jet 2 arrives from Southampton on the Boast Show special service to Gosport
The coloured sands of Alum Bay
The Isle of Wight was circumnavigated anti-clockwise and passing Portsmouth we saw Brittany Ferries' Mont St Michel and P&O Ferries' Pride of Bilbao inbound and the Pride of Portsmouth outbound - all too far away for photography!
Sunset over Fawley Power Station
Arriving back at Southampton, Waverley proceeded past Berth 104 to turn by the George V Dry Dock before tying up just ahead of the Sail Training Association's tall ship, the Prince William.
The unbroken clear skies continued on Sunday and, as the paddler was already heavily booked, casual passengers had to be turned away.
Hebridean Spirit (left) and Barfleur head out from Poole
Despite the heavy loadings, the paddler was able to keep good time. On arrival back at Southampton, the Prince William had been joined by the Lord Nelson, the tall ship designed to be sailed by disabled people.
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