Sunday 10 October 2004 was the day of the Paddle Steamer Parade. The Waverley departed from Tower Pier promptly at 10.30, turning between Tower Pier and Tower Bridge as it was slack water. There was a brisk north-easterly breeze blowing which made it very cold on deck on the outward voyage despite the watery sun.
Good time was made to Tilbury, where a coach party who had missed the ship at the Tower came on board. In view of the wind, the paddler unusually left the Landing Stage astern. Fortunately the wind direction created a lee at Southend Pier so berthing was achieved without difficulty.
Crossing the Thames to enter the River Medway put the ship beam on to the seas causing an interesting ride. After Sheerness the wind was behind us making for a pleasant period on deck. While passing through Gillingham Reach we caught our first sight of the Kingswear Castle outward bound.
The two paddlers passed port-to-port, exchanging the first of many whistle blasts. Waverley proceeded a little further upriver to be turning in Short Reach by the small tug Velox by No. 31 Buoy. The main parade took place all the way out to Kingsnorth, with the Kingswear Castle passing up and down both sides of Waverley.
Finally the two steamers gave each other three cheers and three blasts before the mighty paddler picked up her skirts. She recrossed to Southend for what turned out to be the final call for 2004, as shortly after departure it was announced that the following day's cruise to Dover had been cancelled due to the forecast weather conditions. Some evening cruise passngers were picked up at Tilbury for the round trip to Tower Pier.
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