Waverley Excursions

Waverley goes to the Western Isles

The morning of the 3rd opened with Waverley facing a number of challenges…

The weather forecast did not look good for the trip round the Mull of Kintyre! Winds up to and including Force 8 were forecast but we had been monitoring the forecast against observations for the previous 24 hours and it wasn’t making prediction. We took the decision to sail but had contingency plans in place to transfer passengers to Oban by coach if necessary.

With almost 200 on board, and with the ship ready to leave Glasgow in all respects, we received the news that the Tug required to turn the ship at Glasgow had broken down. It was 40 minutes before it attended and Waverley got underway. Calls were made at Greenock and Campbeltown and it became obvious the wind and sea state were again not reaching prediction.

Waverley rounded the Mull of Kintyre successfully, hoisting our now traditional (and borrowed) MacBrayne’s pennant as we crossed into Davy Mac’s territory! After a visit to Colonsay, we arrived at Oban a little late but glad to be there!

The weather for the trip to Armadale and Inverie on the 4th did not look great but given the experience of the previous day and intelligence from other operators, we set out for Skye. A new forecast was issued at noon which was showing Gale 8 for the waters to the North and West of Mull and the ship was beginning to encounter unfavourable sea conditions so the decision was made to offer passengers a sheltered waters cruise in the Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart, the Lynn of Morvern, Loch Linnhe, the Lynn of Lorn and Kerrera Sound.

On Sunday morning we set off for Fort William but in the process of routine tests a fault was discovered in our emergency generator, which although a secondary system, it is a legal requirement meaning we were unable to sail again until it was repaired. Many passengers were waiting to board for the afternoon cruise when we arrived back at Oban and most came aboard for Sunday Roast and a look around the ship. Like most things on a unique ship, finding the part wasn’t easy. The fact that it was a Sunday morning on a bank holiday weekend didn’t help! We located the part, (somewhere between Edinburgh and Glasgow) which was then brought to Oban and fitted by the Engineers with the repair completed that night.

On Monday we welcomed 400 passengers aboard for a trip to Iona but the morning had brought more rain and reports from Iona than the swell in the Sound of Iona was too high to allow a small boat transfer to take place, instead we cruised up the Sound of Mull, hastily arranged a berth at Tobermory for a couple of hours ashore and returned to Oban at our scheduled time via the Lynn of Morvern and the Lynn of Lorn.

Tuesday opened with the best weather we had seen since leaving Glasgow.

With 130 passengers embarked, we said farewell to Oban and steamed down the beautiful Kerrera Sound to our make our call at Colonsay. The swell of the previous days was still evident as we cleared the shelter of Mull but with light winds from the South East, our journey home was shaping up to be a pleasant one. After time ashore at Colonsay, we punched the tide for a little while in the Sound of Islay, then picked up speed again and made excellent time down between Islay and Gigha, rounding the Mull of Kintyre in calm conditions and basking in the evening sunshine.

With the tide behind us and the wind staying light from the South, we had a good run up the Kilbrannan Sound and back to Greenock, only to find a visiting Tall Ship on the berth at Custom House Quay…after a bit of head scratching as to our next move, we tied up on the extreme West end of the berth and lay there overnight to be ready for dry-docking at Garvel the next morning.