Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday 13th January 2012

Today a page has been added to the site with pictures of Balmorals 2010/11 winter refit.

The 2012 refit restarts at Princes Wharf on Tuesday 24th January (work parties every Tuesday and Friday)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

WAVERLEY – Southend, Thames Shipping & Forts. Sat 24th Sept 2011

Still having cruising vouchers to use, I decided to travel to London for one of Waverleys trips on the Thames.  The weather forecast for Saturday 24th looked good, and a sailing with convenient departure and return times meant that I could do it in a day …..a very long day!

So another early start from Cardiff Central Station on the 06.25 to Paddington, arrived at Tower Pier at 09.15 and had to join the non ticket holders queue – near the front.  A lot of people had booked, taking advantage of the good weather and heeding the call to support the ships.  At 09.45 the numbers boarding had slowed and with room to spare, non ticket holders were boarded.

Casting off at 10.00 we were assisted to swing around by the tug Revenge and we passed the square rigger Tenacious that was also waiting to pass through Tower Bridge.
Through Tower Bridge followed by Tenacious
A trip on the Thames is very interesting as it meanders through East London, passing Docklands, Canary Wharf, The O2 Arena (millennium dome), Greenwich and the Thames Barrier.  Jeremy Gold gave a very interesting commentary and I noticed that many passenger had bought copies of Clive Headons (Bristol Channel branch member) excellent map of the Thames.
Approaching the Thames Barrier
We called in at Tilbury to disembark the passengers doing the short morning cruise, including members of a vintage cycling club with their very old cycles (some with acetylene lamps) a number of the cyclists wore period dress. A similar number of passengers boarded for the trip to Southend.
Approaching Southend Pier
At Southend many passengers disembarked for 3 hours ashore, while a number boarded for the cruise to view the Thames Forts. Today, Kingswear Castle was out on the Thames doing an estuary cruise and whilst we were alongside at Southend she passed close by with much sounding of her whistle which Waverley similarly responded to. 

Leaving the pier, we moved a short distance offshore, slowed down and paused briefly while the ashes of long time local PSPS member Alan Bushell were scattered.

Back up to full speed we headed out into the estuary towards the ‘forts’.  Roddy McKee took up the microphone for the commentary, as we slowed to pass close by and view, first the Red Sands Fort then further out to sea, the Shivering Sands Fort. To view the wikipedia information on the forts click HERE.
Approaching Red Sands Fort
A closer look, and a Thames Barge
Shivering Sands Fort

The Thames shipping part of the cruise is to return via the Southend anchorage, where often there are about a dozen ships anchored, waiting to proceed up the Thames or to sea ‘for orders’ for their next destination. Today, there was just the one ship – she’d been there for a couple of weeks waiting ‘for orders’.
Back at Southend, the tide had fallen and disembarkation had to be done at a lower level. Crew members had to remove scaffolding from the pier before the gangways could be put ashore.  With 2 gangways in use, passenger transfer was swift, however we had to wait a short time as the last (pier) trainload of passengers made their way to the ship – a number of passengers having missed that train, didn’t make it to the ship.

Back at Tilbury our afternoon cruise passengers departed and others boarded for the one way trip to Tower Pier.  The vintage cycling club members reboarded, and we headed off into the setting sun towards the lights of London. 

Through the floodlit Thames Barrier, past the lit O2 arena, then Greenwich and it blue lazer light beam (indicating the greenwich meridian) which we passed under several times as the Thames meanders through the meridian. Then past the Isle of Dogs – the city financial area - with its many lit skyscrapers before rounding the final bend bringing into view the floodlit Tower Bridge.  The people on the bridge, held up by its opening, applauded and cheered as we passed through.

The O2 arena at night
Tying up at Tower Pier a little late, I made sure I was near the gangways for a quick getaway.  Once ashore, it was dash to Tower Hill tube station where a train was just about to depart – not having to wait, gave me a fifteen minute breather at Paddington, before boarding the last train home for Cardiff.

It had been a very long day (up at 5am, home at 1am) but worth it, with no sailings to look forward to until next June.

Peter Havard

WAVERLEY – Solent and Needles Fri 16th Sept 2011

With the winter solstice passed and daylight getting longer (slowly!) it’s nice to remember some of the trips from last year, while we look forward to the next season.

A good weather forecast and cruising vouchers to be used up, prompted an early start from Cardiff on the 6.30am train to Southampton.  Arriving at Pier 49 at 9.30 about 100 passengers were gathered on the quay waiting for Waverley to finish taking fuel bunkers before we could board.
Alongside Pier 49 Southampton
Departing at 10.00 the weather was dry and cloudy with a cool easterly breeze.  The Solent was, as usual, fairly busy with shipping – no big cruise ships at the Ocean Terminal.  Red Funnel ferries and tugs were busily going about their business, and there were about half a dozen tankers at the Fawley oil berths.

Arrived at Portsmouth on time and picked up about 200 more passenger, then proceeded to Yarmouth in improving weather.  At Yarmouth a number of passengers disembarked for a few hours ashore while a similar number joined for the afternoon cruise to the Needles and Freshwater Bay.
Cruising towards Yarmouth in improving weather
Approaching Yarmouth Pier
By now the clouds had disappeared and the wind had dropped making for a glorious couple of hours cruising– I was wishing I’d brought my sunscreen.

Approaching The Needles from Freshwater Bay
Back at Yarmouth, we departed a little late but were back on schedule by the time we departed Portsmouth and we arrived back at Southampton only 5 minutes late which was perfect for my train departure back to Cardiff.

Peter Havard