She is graceful, smart and guaranteed to attract attention wherever she goes. She is the Waverley, the last paddle steamer to put to sea, and this year the famous vessel is celebrating her 40th anniversary in preservation.
Her operators, Waverley Excursions, are gearing up for a host of celebratory events on the Clyde, the Western Isles, on the Bristol Channel, the south coast of England and the Thames - all areas in which the Clyde icon has made her mark during a remarkable voyage of discovery.
The steamer has been in drydock in Greenock for her annual survey, during which her hull has been blasted with high pressure water to remove layers of old paint, inspected and repainted with anti-fouling paint.
Her first visit of 2015 to Rothesay is on Saturday, May 23, departing at 2pm for a trip through the Kyles to Tighnabruaich, while the following day Waverley re-enacts her first cruise in preservation, leaving Rothesay at 1.10pm and offering time ashore at Tighnabruaich, Tarbert or a cruise in Loch Fyne towards Ardrishaig.
Eight days of West Highland cruises follow before the paddler’s main Clyde cruising season, which runs from June 20 to August 30.
* You can read John Easton’s preview of a special year for the Waverley in full in the May 8 edition of The Buteman.