Solent Week 2

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

After a day off service on Monday 15 September 2003, Waverley resumed service at Swanage on the Tuesday. Unfortunately departure was delayed while a steam leak was dealt with and this meant that there was insufficient time to steam from Bournemouth to Ryde via St Catherine's Point in time to make the connection for the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. So the passage was made via the Solent in both directions. By way of compensation the Portsmouth Harbour cruise was extended round Bembridge Ledge as far as Shanklin.

Wednesday went ahead as planned, starting at Weymouth. This mid-week call makes a virtue out of necessity by incorporating a refuelling stop. The only other port where refuelling is possible is Southampton. Weymouth passengers are returned by coach from Swanage, as the paddler spends the night alongside this sheltered pier before steaming light to Portsmouth for Thursday's sail.

Spirit of Gosport crosses to Portsmouth

Thursday was a grey day with a brisk westerly breeze. Clearing the Needles, a lively swell was encountered although this diminished as we steamed into the lee of the Isle of Purbeck. As conditions were likely to be worse past St Alban's Head, Captain Colledge radioed ahead to the Lulworth Range Safety Boat to find out the height of the swell, which was 1.5 metres. This would have made the passage to Lulworth quite uncomfortable, so an alternative cruise to Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world, was rapidly arranged.

Ballard Down and Old Harry Rocks

The Haven Hotel at Sandbanks, soon to be re-developed into flats

Bramble Bush Bay, the Sandbanks Ferry

Poole Quay

Herbert Ballam swings the Waverley

One of the Poole Harbour pleasure craft

The pilot disembarks

Vandyke - the Poole pilot cutter

An old sea dog

Back to Swanage past the Old Harry Rocks

The Poole pilot was picked up at the harbour bar and the steamer was turned off the Continental Ferry berth by the Poole Harbour Commissioners' tug Herbert Ballam. The rest of the cruise went ahead as planned, with Waverley sailing light from Portsmouth to Southampton for the night.
Friday's timetable took the steamer to Portsmouth, Yarmouth and The Needles, while Saturday took her to Portsmouth, Yarmouth and Round The Island.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust's Lord Nelson shared Berth 104 with Waverley

Mol Promise, assisted by the tug Sir Bevois, passes the loading paddler

Aurora and Royal Princess were in Southampton

Sothampton's Boat Show was in progress

Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower under construction

Waverley berthing ahead of FastCat Ryde

Skausund heads out to sea while Gosport Queen goes east

St Catherine's Lighthouse at the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight

Pride of Le Havre on course for France

Question: How many PSPS members does it take to fold a timetable?

Answer: Three - Jonathon Cohen folds while Victor Gray (left - former National Chairman) and Chris Phillips (former National Secretary) offer guidance

Jim McFadzean was concerned we were bored and offered some gainful employment by folding timetables to fit the display racks

Cenwulf at Yarmouth

A yacht cutting across our bow as we approach Yarmouth Pier

Saturday was a bright and sunny day and the ship was busy all day. As the previous week, the circumnavigation was anti-clockwise and two cross-channel ferries were encountered off Portsmouth. On the return leg to Portsmouth, the P&O Cruises liner Aurora appeared as a ghost ship through the mist as she headed out from Southampton.
Sunday was full of promise, but this was not fulfilled as sea mist hung all day, largely obliterating the hoped-for views of the Dorset coast. Nevertheless, Chris Warren gave as much commentary as he could on the Weymouth-Swanage leg. Fortunately the paddler's modern navigational aids meant that progress was not significantly impeded.

The Dorset coast at Osmington

At Bournemouth the higher buildings disappeared into the mist

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