The Waverley Summer Excursion, June 9th 2009


Cruise Director Stu Shields writes:

“The following is a report on the Swire Mariners Waverley paddle steamer cruise that took place on the 9th June 2009, cruising the Bristol Channel from Clevedon to Ilfracombe and back to Clevedon, with just over an hour stop over at Ilfracombe. We sailed from Clevedon at around 1115hrs and headed south in beautiful sunshine.

List of those members lucky enough to attend:

Peter & Lisabeth Roberts, John & Avril Rushton, David & Jean Falkner, Darell & Jennifer Daish, Byran & Jean Bell, Dudley & Anne Groves, Julian & Sheri Thorogood, Joe & Reiko Walford, Graeme Drewery & Hazel John, Jim & Cathy Bird, Stu Shields, David Walker, Chris Ryden and Olaf Overland

Unfortunately, the following members had to cancel due to circumstances beyond their control:

Geoff & Mary Havilland and Paul & Myra Markland

What a fabulous day it was as well. Initially, signs were not good as we left the Centre of the Known World, High Wycombe, because it was raining and looking very gloomy indeed.

However, as we drove westwards, the clouds parted and we had brilliant sunshine by the time we reached the head of the pier at Clevedon.

Most of our team were in a café across the road from the pier and I thought.. how times have changed, years ago that would have been the pub. Anyway, we all gathered, tea in hand and waited for signs of the mighty vessel. She shortly appeared in the distance, so final slurps of tea were taken and off we all walked, down the pier to climb aboard.

The Waverley is a really beautiful ship, restored to a very high degree and a credit to the company that runs her. I t appears that a large number of the crew are from Eastern Europe though, which is a shame. Obviously we Britons have lost the desire to go to sea these days but at least I noticed that the Chief Engineer was a Scot, well he would be wouldn’t he.

It didn’t take long before the mighty power plant was churning out the horse power and we steamed away from the pier on our epic voyage into the unknown….well I say that but I think we all knew what was happening.

We spent some time watching the “stuff” go up and down and round and round from the engine room observation windows and all the old smells of engine oil came drifting back to me. The engine room staff were busy at it, doing what they do best, sitting down and chatting to each other, and shortly after the sight of those hard working gentlemen, we wandered into the lounge for some lunch. For those of you who really wondered what we ate, you can review the photos below. You can also see Waverley’s power plant working if you go into Google Video and type the words “Waverley’s Engine”.

Before we knew it, we arrived at Ilfracombe, around 1500hrs, where a happy smiling town crier gave us a welcome in the usual manner you’d expect from town criers. Dudley’s Annie was so overwhelmed by his splendid appearance that she threw caution to the wind and tried to grab him by the clanger. (Good one, Stu; fell off my chair laughing – Ed.)

He didn’t mind though and fell right into the spirit of the moment with a cheesy grin and an Oh yez, Oh yez, Oh yez. Clang, clang, clang. A few of us decided to take a short walk into town to soak up some of the Devonshire culture whilst the more adventuresome went to the pub at the end of the landing stage. Lo and behold, in the pub was our old “Pirate’s Friend” Colin Darch, along with his lovely wife, who decided to come by to check on our progress. Now…….you can’t down many pints in an hour but we did our best to keep the old traditions going before racing back to the ship.

Needless to say that there were no late arrivals, so none of us ended up in the log book but we all did manage to gather on the wharf for a departure photo. Unfortunately, word of this photo call hadn’t reached the ears of a couple of our members and they had already climbed aboard for the return journey. However, there was another group photo taken during the voyage back to Clevedon and those missing crew members managed to be in that one.

What a happy bunch of Swire mariners we look don’t we and we were, because these photos were taken after the visit to the pub.

Shortly after the above photos were taken, we once again walked aboard and then, as soon as the gangways were lifted, the Waverley crew slipped the mooring ropes and off we sailed again, homeward bound for Clevedon.

The return journey was taken very close in shore and you can understand why Devon gets so many tourists, it’s a beautiful part of the country and looking particularly nice on this day because of the calm seas and sunshine.

During the return voyage, a special photo was taken of the Kuala Lumpur Three, sounds like a reprieved criminal gang doesn’t it, and don’t they look happy? Olaf Overland, Darrell Daish and David Walker….makes you wonder how those pilgrims ever made it to Mecca.

After a short while……or it seemed short, we arrived back at Clevedon just before 2000hrs, where we walked ashore and made our farewells before departing for home.

The wonders of High Wycombe were strongly calling me and so we drove off, leaving the sunset behind us and back to signs of reality and rotten weather.

I have to say though, what a delightful day out it was, one that everybody really enjoyed and I personally was amazed at how quick the time just flew by.

Facts about Waverley, for those who are interested, are included in the letter sent to all paid-up members!


Stu Shields



Swire Mariners Association