Waverley - grounded after hitting pier at Dunoon on 27 June, 2009

27th June 2009, 18:46
More on this here...


She returned to Glasgow for inspection & repair, causing the cancellation of her jazz cruise due in the evening. Twelve passengers sustained minor injuries.

Satanic Mechanic
27th June 2009, 18:49
Is it that time of year already, the Waverly running aground is like the official start of summer on the west coast of Scotland.

27th June 2009, 18:54
The usual OTT superlatives from the press. She landed heavily on Dunoon pier during the course of berthing alongside, she didn't go aground nor was it some kind of high speed collision. As well as a few people being knocked over (most likely those who would have been standing adjacent to the paddlebox to await disembarkation), there was some damage caused to the (sacrificial) belting as well as denting some platework.
Apparently repairs will take 2 to 3 days, this involves sorting out a few dents, replacing some woodwork and painting.
These kind of incidents weren't hugely uncommon 'back in the day'.

Satanic Mechanic
27th June 2009, 19:00
If memory serves Jim one particular Waverly Old Man turned it into a near art form.

Did you ever sail with the famously diminutive ex 2nd Engineer off the Waverly

27th June 2009, 19:43
I worked on the Waverley when she was first taken over by the Waverley trust and was lying next to the Daily Record's office on the Clyde. I was a cadet at the Nautical college and we were asked to go to help out.

Years later I watched as she tried to batter down the piers at Tarbert and Ardrishaig on a fairly regular basis.

27th June 2009, 19:51
She gave Worthing Pier a good going over last September too. Perhaps they need extra padding round her or learner plates when docking :o

27th June 2009, 20:27
I'll bet Michael Jackson is sat up there, or down there, saying "Thank goodness for the good old P.S. Waverley, that's them away baying at her now, so that's me off the hook for a while" .......

27th June 2009, 21:07
Let me think about this for a while

The Waverley hitting Tarbert Pier or Micheal Jackson, its a no brainer.

I seem to remember that when I watched her approaching the pier I thought she was going real fast, like alot faster than the local fishing boats would come back to the fish quay at night.

Then there would be all kinds of bells & whistles followed by the paddles stopping and trying to go in the opposite direction only for the vessel to strike the pier sending the tourists running both on the decks and the pier.

It was still a great sight.

I remember watching both the Waverley and a puffer on either side of the pier at Ardrishaig with the owner of the puffer entertaining the tourists by playing a tune on the steam whistle.

Now who was that Micheal guy....

Satanic Mechanic
27th June 2009, 21:22
"And we interrupt this CNN broadcast on Michael Jackson to go straight to Ardrishaig where we have some breaking news"

Its true though the Waverley always seems to approach piers at ramming speed, which as it turns out is a good description

27th June 2009, 22:11
I don't think I did. However I recall that Iain Miller (from Wishaw?) had spent some time on the Balmoral (as a Motorman) during his leaves as a Cadet to earn some extra cash, not sure if he went on the Paddler though.

As you probably remember, the wheels do not operate independently and with regards to their position on the hull, this means that the (unbalanced) rudder is effectively useless whilst making fine and slowspeed adjustments berthing/unberthing. The general idea is to line up and approach at a good few knots, any slower and the rudder has negligible effect, as of course you can't 'kick' with paddles. Then ring slow/half astern about 1 ship length from the jetty (crunchy bit) whilst at an angle of circa 30 degrees from a point a ships width perpendicular from the jetty. She then stops herself within that ships length as the paddle wheels act as effective brakes, indeed you can actually feel her physically 'pulling up' when the engine begins to run astern. Then its springs and head/sternlines rapidly ashore, pull her in and adjust position. This is all with due regard to the prevailing wind and tide and if you do it right you should end up either with paddlebox 'kissing' the pier face or a few feet off and the ship slightly off parallel.
The problem is that with many piers that approach is either difficult if not downright impossible, what with lack of dredging, development, yacht moorings etc getting in the way, in those cases its down to personal preference, e.g. nose in on the corner and work it out from there etc.
With regards Dunoon, she wasn't berthing at the old wooden pier but the new steel/concrete version which is effectively a parallel face on the end of a new stone breakwater/linkspan to the west of the old pier. As you can imagine, this reinforced concrete/steel face isn't quite as forgiving as its wooden equivalent.
A photo of the new pier is here, seen on the right: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3126/2845540388_b75404556a.jpg?v=0
A photo of the damage to the Paddler is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightbody/3663091208/in/photostream/

Of course what has to be asked down the pub is; did the Old Man leave it too late to give the astern order, or were the Engineers not quick enough in responding to it?! An age old question if ever there was one! (Thumb)

27th June 2009, 22:35
James-C, and there I was enjoying your post about the Waverley and you had to go and spoil it. Of course it was the old man that was to slow, how could you think otherwise.

27th June 2009, 22:46
I was thinking there may have been a few drams involved in the falling over of various folk however hitting hard enough for the liferafts to deploy & inflate kind makes me think it was all down to the old man and nothing to do with the engineers. (*)).

Thats a great photo of Dunoon pier and brings back many memories. I did a week on the wee Western Ferries vessel around the corner from there.

Talking of which, is Western Ferries all finished. They did have one boat between Islay & Jura the last I heard about them.

My time on the Waverley was over a few weeks and I believe one of our lecturers from the Nautical College, Uncle Shuggie, had a brother or some other relative who was the chief or second on her. The Waverley trust had taken the vessel over for one shilling and then the fund raising began.

Us cadets were used as free labour but we thought it great to get out of college for the day or half day and end up in Betty's bar with the old guys from the ship. Those old guys were probably about 20 years younger than I am now.

I never did sail on her in a working capacity but did get to go between Ardrishaig & Tarbert with all of my family. They had travelled from Hexham in Northumberland on a steam train up to Scotland and then a cruise around the Clyde on the Waverley.

Sister Eleff
27th June 2009, 23:19
I know nothing about Waverley or ship handling for that matter - so in my ignorance I ask; is she hard to handle as she has a great affection for piers and sandbanks, or is there some other reason?

Satanic Mechanic
27th June 2009, 23:48
Hey Sis

The Waverley is a much loved paddle steamer - she is somewhat grandiosely billed as 'the Worlds Last Seagoing Paddle Steamer' - she is sort of based in Glasgow you can read about her here:


Over the years, probably due to her unusual handling characteristics and nothing whatsoever to do with Engineers ;) she has achieved a near legendary status for running aground and hitting piers with gusto, to the extent it hardly even raises eyebrows now(Jester).

27th June 2009, 23:55
From an e mail I received from one of her captains 18 months ago. He said and i quote "She is no Lady to Dance with" Steering at low speed is very poor hence the quick approach to the Piers. She needs to be aimed at the right angle then full astern at the right moment. Easy to be a bit adrift with the winds and tides with her. Whereas the Balmoral with twin rudders and twin screws handles very well.

Satanic Mechanic
28th June 2009, 00:02
I actually had never given it much thought but her seemingly suicidal speed coming along side does make sense when you think about it.

28th June 2009, 01:14
Well you've decided that plan for me chaps - I was thinking along the lines of a day trup on the 'Waverley' later this year but hey ho......!!!


28th June 2009, 01:25
Can always book you in on the Golden Dreamer Jonty ... LOL

29th June 2009, 09:21
I see the Waverley is back in the news after coming in too strong to harbour.

This is being reported as serious damage.

Wonder what the repurcussions will be this time?

29th June 2009, 09:23
Forgot to add link from The Herald newspaper !!

http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/news/display.var.2517024.0.Waverley_in_dock_after_colli sion_injures_passengers.php

29th June 2009, 10:59
That is sad news for us in the Isle of Wight as we look forward to seeing her down here in the Summer. There were a couple of 'heavy landings' last year. There seems to be a skill at handling a large paddle steamer that involves courage and judgement.

29th June 2009, 14:06
After reading the various answers above I'm wondering if theres always been a problem with docking the Waverley?

It seems to be a very complicated maneouvre to get it right.

Andy Lavies
29th June 2009, 15:28
I was Master in the DEPV "Farringford" when she was at Lymington and she was an unforgiving cow to handle even with independant paddles. Every paddleship handler needs luck as well as skill and you keep the speed on until you can see the whites of the shorehand's eyes.

29th June 2009, 17:12
loved the old photo of Dunoon Pier.
Used to spend many hours during the summer sitting on the pier with my little wheelbarrow waiting for the holiday makers to come ashore(sixpence to carry their cases to the hotel)ANd I never got knocked off my feet when the steamers and paddlers came alongside.


Chief Engineer's Daughter
29th June 2009, 20:33
Well you've decided that plan for me chaps - I was thinking along the lines of a day trup on the 'Waverley' later this year but hey ho......!!!


Oh go on, live dangerously! (Jester)

B Wales
29th June 2009, 22:31
This seams to be a regular occurrence with the present operators on the "Waverley", just about every year they either damage a pier or attempt to hole the vessel, surely this did not happen in the Steam days and not with 21st Nav Aids.

I remember in the late 1980's while I was on board on a cruise her Master Capt Neil, skillfully docked "Waverley" in conditions with a strong on shore wind with sea swell on to Largs Pier on the Clyde without a bump.

That's what you call Skillful Handling!

Sarky Cut
29th June 2009, 22:52
The old paddle steamers across the Solent never had these problems to the best of my knowlege, there is however the story that when of the Queens was going out in the summer the old man had to make an announcement for the passengers to spread out as the boat was going in circles.(A)

29th June 2009, 23:13
One wonders about this event. Was the engine room slow in responding to the telegraph orders? I understand that if she is set at full astern its a bit like putting the brakes on. Most odd that she should belt the Quay at speed

29th June 2009, 23:46
billyboy, if one does not apply the brakes how can others be blamed. (*))

30th June 2009, 00:11
I take your point MJ.
However it does appear she hit pretty hard. I am sure all will be revealed in due course. Does seem to have been rather unfortunate in recent years.

30th June 2009, 00:34
I think one of the problems is that unlike days of yore when she was a on fixed run, Waverley now operates over large sections of the British Isles, mostly for reasonably short periods over the Summer months.
Also, unlike in the past where she would have one (singular) permanent Old man for effectively years, there is now 3 or 4 Masters who share duties on her and Balmoral.
Modern nav aids wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to Waverley - you have to berth a paddler today in exactly the same way as you did 60 years ago, the problem is that the conditions aren't the same as 60 years ago.
It doesn't help that most modern pier users are oblivious to the needs of a Paddler, obstructions in the approaches either requiring a detour or abandonment is common, something you just wouldn't have seen on the Clyde when in normal service.
Then to top it all off you have a ship which handles like nothing you'll ever find in a textbook or conventional experience and which requires a certain amount of 'moral fibre' to carry off successfully.
Then there are the piers themselves. Most don't see any regular traffic bigger than a fibreglass yacht or small fishing boat, never mind something the size of Waverley. This level of traffic isn't conducive to spending money on a decent amount of maintenance, therefore many are in a poor verging on derelict condition. In the case of this latest incident, the pier she came alongside is not the Dunoon pier we may remember, but the modern replacement made of steel and concrete, which as we all known such a construction takes no prisoners with regards to vessels landing alongside. However a wooden pier actually absorbs some of the shock - steel and concrete doesn't and so tranfers it all to the ship, hence she'll suffer damage which she may not have received if the same thing happened on a traditional pier.
All of the above combines to create the occasional dunt.
If anything, she does very well to have as few accidents as she does.

30th June 2009, 00:45
Thank you James. Very well put. I used to be in touch with one of her Captains. He did tell me she was not so easy to handle at reduced speeds.

30th June 2009, 16:24
James C is correct the old jetties had a certain amount of "give" and acted like a shock absorber, on fixed routes the Engineer knows from experience with his "normal" Skipper what the next engine movement will be before the Master rings it down, even so because of the diagonal "attitude" of the engine (as opposed to a VTE ) use of the Impulse Valves in the correct sequence was an everyday occurance to get what are big lazy engines moving especially when Full Astern is rung from the Bridge from Stop. On a diagonal compound it's easier as you push the throttle v/v on to full and then sequence both the impulse levers (HP & LP) with your right and left hands to bring the engine quickly up to speed. For those who are not aware impulse valve's pass boiler pressure steam directly into the cylinder (top or bottom depending on the direction of the pulled lever at the engine control's) without going through the valve arrangement. As the vessel appears to have numerous Master's and most probably numerous Engineer's if you are not with your "usual" Master that "understanding" of the method you both have worked out for coming alongside can be broken which can lead to a heavy impact "landings"

30th June 2009, 17:49
I was onboard at the time of the incident and both the Waverley and the Pier took quite a knock. There were 12 people who were treated for minor injuries. She continued on her cruise back to Glasgow and sailed for the James Watt Dock , Greenock , later that night for repairs. After the incident the fantastic atmosphere that you get on every Waverley cruise was not spoiled. I can't wait until my next cruise.Thanks to the the Officers and Crew of Waverley for the way they handled the situation.(Thumb)

30th June 2009, 19:31
I watched a crewman tying up the Waverley on the South End of Wightlinks Harbour Station Pier last year. The bloke up For'd operated the steam winch by himself, while handling the rope on the drum. He had two turns on the drum, and of course the rope jumped. No wonder accidents happen.

30th June 2009, 21:16
I think the Officers and Crew of the Waverley and Balmoral are top class(Thumb)

Jim S
30th June 2009, 21:32
Geordie Chief mentions the anticipation of the next engine movement before it is rung down. - Many years ago I witnessed Ian Muir a Waverley Chief Engineer do exactly that - He would stand at the engine controls and look out of the open door adjacent to the paddle box eying up the pier on final approach. His engine movement not only anticipated the next telegraph order but seemed to precede it !

marco nista
30th June 2009, 22:25
I usually do at least one trip a year as a punter on the WAVERLEY & when the docking manoeuvre is done well it is most impressive, the ships stops dead just off the berth & can be gently heaved alongside.

James C. makes some good points in post # 31, as there is much more turnover of crew now than in the past - I remember seeing an advert for Master in the NUMAST newsletter quite recently.

Paddle-steamer handling is not an art that can be picked up easily.
Even the tiny KINGSWEAR CASTLE that sails out of Chatham can be a handful at times - a few years ago she had a bowthrust fitted & it always makes me smile as you approach the berth when what sounds like a lawnmower engine starts up - but it works !

When experienced crew members leave it will inevitably take time to come back to the 'rythyms' of experienced crews who have worked together for a long time.

Last few trips I did on her the Catering ratings were East Europeans, but dunno whether this now applies to Deck & Engine ratings, but the company has to look at wage bills as does every shipping operator.

Some of the 'old' largely-Scots crew were real characters -one of the Bosuns could move fast enough to catch seagulls that were foolish enough to land on the deck - he used to take them down to the saloon & pass them thru the serving hatch where the stewards would release the gulls out of sight of the diners who would examine their chicken curry with some foreboding.



1st July 2009, 08:55
I did a trip on the Waverley about five years ago, had a great time. She's a lovely vessel.
In Portsmouth, she always has a tug on standby to assist in the turn when departing Wightlinks Pier. She's always Stb'd side too there, and has difficulty making the turn off the Gosport Ferry pontoon on the Gosport side.
The paddles are such that they can't be turned independently, IE one going ahead while the other astern which greatly reduces maneuverability. She has to make a sort of three point turn.
Seems a shame to me that so many of the crew have English as a second language.

John Gurton
1st July 2009, 10:36
It may be of interest to some of the contributors of this thread that the Kingswear Castle offers a one day course in how to operate a paddlesteamer. http://www.pskc.freeserve.co.uk/
As a local pilot I got involved in volunteering as a relief Captain of this wonderful old vessel many years ago. A steep learning curve indeed from handling conventional ships. I was out on her yesterday...and I'm still learning !

2nd July 2009, 06:29
That's a great little ship Jonn.
I've heard of her, but never seen a picture before.
Busy little bee by the looks of her itenery as well. :o

12th July 2009, 20:23
Is she still laid up?

12th July 2009, 21:30
They do not call it the booze cruise for nothing, as soon as she sails the bars are open and that can lead to some interesting sights a couple of hours into the day's outing !
I did one season on them with half the time spent on the "Waverley" and half on the "Balmoral" of the 2 I preferred the Balmoral
Even though they are in my Discharge book it is a trip i would rather forget !
The only good thing was that I got to go to some good ports in the UK which I would never have been able to do Deep Sea

14th July 2009, 21:00
I docked the Waverley for years at Tarbert...no big deal! and more or less text book stuff every time. I am now a wee bit concerend that there may be yet another 'incident' in the making.

Tarbert East Pier was condemened last year as being dangerous and the annual Waverley trips were cancelled. The pier structure was in dire need of repairs.

I now read that the Harbour Authority, in cahoots with the Waverley Trust have arranged for the summer trips to be resumed. To offset the pier problem, they will engage the services of a local fishing boat to act as a 'tug'.

Hope it works! John 'Tar' and Iain Mckay are no longer there to see a 'braw' job done. Nor is big Angus and Paul there to catch the lines. I've no doubt though that the successors to the mentioned stalwards will do 'the business' as best they can. I'm sure the lady line-handlers will also keep abreast of the situation!

Ah! Happy days.

28th August 2009, 13:21
I remember travelling on the old PS Ryde and Sandown as a boy and hitting both Ryde pier and the Portsmouth landing stage quite hard.

I have also travelled on the Lake Lucerne paddlers and they seem to have berthing down to a fine art but it is of course a lake rather than open sea and they are running a regular all day service so the Masters do get a lot of practice.