Waverley’s third Saturday of the 2001 season, an unusual Ayr – Round Bute sailing with plenty of time ashore at Tighnabruaich was lightly loaded despite reasonable weather and sunshine for most of the day. Unfortunately, Waverley Excursions enterprising attempt to extend springtime cruising to the Ayrshire coast has not been rewarded with as much support as they may have hoped for. However, there is another chance on Sunday 29th April when the paddler sails from Greenock, Helensburgh and Dunoon for an unusual (for Waverley) Sunday cruise to Tarbert Loch Fyne where the visit lasts from 1500 to 1630. Intending passengers from Ayrshire can join the Waverley at Largs at 1215 and she will be back there at 1915 in the evening.
Just over forty people left Ayr on Waverley this morning, the paddler being berthed starboard side to at the Compass Quay and Capt Gellatly eased her stern first out of the harbour and headed north to Millport, Largs and Rothesay where she berthed starboard side to at the old Berth 3 after offshore breeze prevented her port side berthing.
At the ‘Narrows’ in Kyles of Bute passengers inspected the completed ‘widening’ of the marked channel which still seems significantly narrower than before. However, the 4-buoyed channel is now sufficient for Waverley to pass through.
Passengers had sufficient time to visit the highlights of Tighnabruaich (or ‘Tinnabeans’ as a well known purser sometimes calls it) while the paddler basked in the sunshine.
One sad note was announced by Purser Jim MacFadzean as Waverley prepared to leave Tighnabruaich to head south to Garroch Head. For many years Waverley’s heaving lines have been caught and the mooring ropes hauled up onto the pier bollards by local volunteers Sheila and husband John. Now Sheila and John are leaving Tighnabruaich for a new life in the North East of Scotland at Peterhead. This was the last day that Waverley’s ropes would be handled by either. Unfortunately, Sheila could not make it to the pier but John was there to cast off Waverley for the last time. Waverley’s management, crew and regular passengers have enjoyed a great service from Sheila and John – who have turned out in all weathers – for many years and they were accorded a hearty vote of thanks and best wishes for their new life by those aboard today.
Behind they leave a Tighnabruaich proud of its steamer heritage as proclaimed in a new display board in the pier that tells the story of ‘Steamer Visitors of Yesteryear’ Sheila and John have played a big part in preserving that heritage and we hope to see them aboard Waverley in the not too distant future
Due to the low numbers from Ayr Waverley’s return cruise terminated at Largs (after a return sailing to Millport) with a coach connection to Ayr while the paddler proceeded to Greenock for overnight berthing.
This article was first published on Martin Longhurst’s Waverley – The Unofficial Site.