Sunday, 21 August 2011

Friday 19th August Penarth and Newport to Ilfracombe

A fine day with light winds forcast, Balmoral set off from Penarth with over 100 aboard for the morning cruise to Newport where about 200 more boarded for the return to Penarth and onward cruise to Ilfracombe.
Balmoral on the River Usk
coming alongside Chuch St Wharf, with the Transporter Bridge in the background

At Penarth a lot of passengers disembarked and a lot more embarked.  With about 400 aboard we set off for Ilfracombe. With Captain Steve Colledge aboard (not in command) we were treated to a closeup view of the Welsh coast as far as Rhoose before crossing to the English side. On arrival most got off for 2 hours ashore, some remained aboard for an Atlantic Coast cruise, they were joined by about 50 for the, what turned out to be a 90 minute cruise (methinks - personal opinion - that £17 for the cruise was a bit steep).
boarding at 'Combe
Back aboard, the return sailing was very pleasant - flat sea, light following breeze and warm evening sunshine - another fine days sailing on the Bristol Channel.

Peter Havard

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Balmorals Bristol Channel Season Extended

Good news!  the Bristol Channel season has been extended by 6 days.

After the originally planned last trip (7the Sept), Balmoral head back up to the North West and North Wales, to carry out some of the sailing that were cancelled in June.  She will then return to the channel on Tuesday 13th September for a further 6 days sailings - full details can be found on the Waverley web site CLICK HERE then click on Balmoral, Bristol Channel.

Lydney to Ilfracombe 16th August 2011

Boarding the train at Cardiff I couldn’t see any of the regulars in the carriage I was in.  But on arrival at Lydney once the other passengers had boarded or departed the station, there were just 5 of us standing on the platform, all bound for Balmoral and the trip to Ilfracombe.

With plenty of time to kill, we headed for the Harbour CafĂ© and breakfast.  Once fed and watered we then joined the stream of people heading for the harbour, arriving just as the gangway was being put out.  Already there was a long queue waiting to board – a quick guestimate of well over 300.  All aboard, we scraped our way along the stone pier out into the tide for the 5 minute trip across to Sharpness on the other side of the river-  where another good size crowd was waiting to board – including 8 of the Ilfracombe regulars who leave home at some unearthly hour to drive to a distant upchannel pier, where they board, do the full cruise, then drive home again,  arriving back in the small hours. – they’re either a dedicated bunch, or nutters!
Balmoral stemming the tide off Lydney (photo 2009)

Inching in, about to make the final turn to lie/be pushed onto the quay wall (2009)

part of the queue at Lydney (2011)
Lydney and Sharpness are quite a difficult places for our ships to get into and out of.  For timing reasons, the ships visits coincide with spring tides, when the tidal stream is at its strongest. I reckon the tide is running at between 6 and 7 knots across the entrances.  Slack water here is nonexistent – it’s rushing in, it slows, it stops for a few minutes, before it starts slowly running out, and then rushing out – all within about 15 minutes. So timing, especially the departure from Sharpness, is crucial.  But get out on time we did, with over 500 aboard.

The weather forecast for the day was a cloudy start then sunshine and showers with a brisk breeze.  There was a light rain shower whilst alongside at Sharpness but as we proceeded down the river Severn the clouds started to break and the sun made brief appearances.  With all that tide in our favour we were soon speeding downstream, first close in to the south side then following the channel across to the north side before passing under the Severn Bridge (M48)  then the Second Severn Crossing (M4).  We had to put into the entrance to Avonmouth dock briefly to drop off our pilots – there was a slight delay before we could go in, as we had to wait for the outgoing sand dredger Welsh Piper to clear the entrance.
Passing under the Second Severn Crossing (photo taken 1996 or 7)
Pilots off, we proceeded to Clevedon where about 150 got off for a few hours ashore before being bussed back to their respective ports.  We then proceeded down channel under sunny skies.  After passing the Breaksea light we went through a spell (about an hour) of lively conditions (wind over tide making short steep seas combined with a slight/moderate swell).  We could see rain showers over the English and Welsh coasts, the centre of the channel was clear.  The only water coming aboard was the spray over the foredeck – much enjoyed by about 8 or 9 youngsters who were lining the starboard rail, shreiking and laughing each time they got a soaking.  A number of other passengers didn’t find the ships movement at all to their liking – with the inevitable result……

Ilfracombe looked busy as we rolled into the harbour.  Our captain made a very good job of his first berthing at ‘Coombe.  It was a pity that (Roy) the Town Crier was not there to give us his usual welcome greeting.  2 hours ashore, time for a walk up to the town then back down to the harbour to check out the boats, buy and eat local fish and chips.

We had the only short shower of rain of the day as we queued to get back on board.  Once we’d departed, with a following sea and light following wind it was a pleasant trip back up channel.  Off Barry, we had to slow down to board a Cardiff pilot from their cutter Providence. Rounding Lavernock Point on the approach to Penarth we were treated to the clouds being coloured with reds and orange by the setting sun – a  perfect end to a long but perfect day.  At Penarth there were 8 coaches waiting to take the passengers home – I had to walk up to the town to catch a service bus home.
Peter Havard

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

2011 Appeal

There is now another way of making a donation to the appeal - by TEXT.

Text  WAVE11  followed by the donation amount to  70070

Diary of a (novice) shopkeeper

........Having disembarked our passengers at Swansea, we took on fresh water then at 2345 set sail for Penarth and anchor.  After a long day, I headed for my bed - Walter Snowdon (shopkeeper) had the cabin and the catering crew were set to party in the lower bar, so I stretched out in the shop lounge and was soon asleep, woke briefly when the anchor was let go and the chain rattled noisily out of the hawse pipe.

Wednesday 13th July  - Woke at about 0700 the sea was calm, sky slightly overcast with a light easterly breeze.  I spent the morning familiarising myself with the shop, finding the stock and reading the notes that Walter had written for me. At 1200 the anchor was raised and we steamed across to Clevedon where we said goodbye to Walter and I started the job proper - helping with the gangway, counting the passengers on and off and running the shop -on my own!

Leaving Clevedon we headed to Penarth, leaving there with about 200 aboard.  The sky was brightening and the sea calm as we crossed the channel to Watchet.  In the shop, there was a steady trickle of customers - just what I wanted on my first day.  At Watchet, about half the passengers disembarked to take the steam train to Minehead and about 50 got on for the Watchet/Minehead shuffle - 2 calls at each port in 2 hours with hardly any time to open the shop between ports - still, I like to be busy!

Leaving Minehead for the second time, on time, we headed back to Penarth where there was a slight delay while we took on more fresh water (Balmorals fresh water tank is not very big, so is filled up at every opportunity, and not all piers have a supply point) Arrived back at Clevedon at 2200, disembarked our passengers then headed for the Avon bouy and dropped anchor.  Totalling up the days takings, they were only slightly down on the previous day - maybe there were less sales but more high value items sold?

Not having slept in the officers accommodation before, I was suprised by the noise of the waves lapping against the hull (the cabins are just above waterlevel) I've slept in foc'sle (well above waterlevel) and the lower bar a number of times, there, the noise of the generator and or engine ensure that the noise of the lapping waves is not heard.  Luckily, I had brought my ear plugs so a sound nights sleep was had.

Thursday 14th July - An earlier start today.  The weather was dry, blue sky and little wind.  I was up at 0630 to make sure the shop and shop lounge were clean, bins emptied and windows cleaned inside and out.  The anchor was up at 0815 and were alongside Clevedon pier early to embark about 100 then across to Penarth where nearly 200 got on for the trip to Ilfracombe.

At Penarth, David Farmer (our vice chairs nephew) boarded together with a party of school children, senior citizens and teachers from his schools luncheon club - well done David in suggesting the trip. David helps out in the shop whenever he's able to, his company and assistance was much appreciated, especially as there were so many youngsters on board - they kept the shop busy with a lot of small purchases.

We were alongside at Ilfracombe for 2 hours (enough time for a nap!).  Whilst alongside we were to take on bunkers - there was a misunderstanding between the oil company and the tanker driver when "we'll be alongside between 1.00 and 3.00" was taken to be "turn up anytime between 1.00 and 3.00" consequently the tanker arrived at 2.30 and bunkering would take 45 minutes - then there was a problem with the pump...., so we eventually got away 45 minutes late - there was some muttering by one or two of the passengers, but it was a glorious sunny day and most enjoyed the delay.

No time was gained on the return to Penarth, the shop was still fairly busy and the volunteers were on deck selling the Grand Prize Draw Tickets. We arrived back at Clevedon at 7.30 dropped our passengers off, then went to anchor at the Avon buoy. 

With an early'ish finish and not too early start the next day, the crew bar was opened, so I and a couple of the others partook of a couple of cans of alcoholical refreshment and a chin wag.  I didn't stay up late, with all that fresh air and an early start (and a few beers!) my bunk was soon be continued
Peter Havard