Waverley operators announce paddler’s 2012 sailings

THE operators of the paddle steamer Waverley have published a full timetable of cruises for the 2012 summer season – a milestone year for the historic vessel in more ways than one.

The publication of timetables for both the Waverley and her sister ship, the motor vessel Balmoral, for the Clyde, Western Isles, the south coast of England and the River Thames, is a positive sign for the paddler’s many supporters after more than a year of uncertainty over her future in the face of rising operating costs and the impact of the recession on consumer spending.

The Waverley’s owners confirmed last October that enough money had been raised to start planning for the 2012 season, though at that point £280,000 still needed to be raised to manage the conservation of both the Waverley and the Balmoral, and to put the two vessels through their statutory annual re-fits.

And while the need to continue raising cash for the two ships’ long-term future has not gone away, there is more than a slight air of celebration about the Waverley’s 2012 programme, which will mark both her own 65th birthday and the two hundredth anniversary of steam navigation, inaugurated in 1812 by Henry Bell’s historic paddle steamer Comet.

Other special sailings on the Waverley’s Clyde programme this summer include recreations of the regular routes plied by two of the Firth’s most famous steamers – the Caledonian Steam Packet Company’s Duchess of Hamilton, which would have been 80 years old this year, and MacBrayne’s Saint Columba, which entered service a hundred years ago – and an opportunity in August to view and escort the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth.

There is also a rare opportunity, on Sunday, July 8, to sail from Rothesay into Loch Riddon and to land at Ormidale pier, in one of two public charters organised by the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

For more details on the 2012 sailings around Britain by both Waverley and Balmoral, click on the link to the right of this article.