This morning at 10:00 the PS Waverley departed from Oban North Pier calling at Tobermory and Tiree before providing a cruise of the Gunna Sound – this is the sound that separates the islands of Coll and Tiree. What a perfect day for a sail up the Sound of Mull and out into the Passage of Tiree. The weather was bright, sunny and warm and the sea was calm. There was hardly a breeze.
(in galleries mouse-over for captions, double-click for larger pictures)
Waverley’s arrival at 14:15 was spot on. Island residents and holiday-makers thronged the pier in anticipation of the Gunna Sound Cruise. Due to an extremely low tide, the gangway proved rather awkward, so the pier master suggested the steamer move a short distance further along the pier. There seemed no end to the passengers who were disembarking – probably over 150. Eventually those joining the cruise were able to board.
Considering the age of the paddle steamer her turn of speed was most impressive, even when reversing out into the bay before turning her full length and making her way to the Gunna Sound. It was interesting seeing familiar landmarks from a vessel that was closer in to the shoreline than the normal ferry and from a deck that was much closer to the water.
(Enjoy the view by double-clicking on one of the photographs)
Named after Sir Walter Scott’s first novel, the Waverley is celebrating her 70th birthday. Launched in 1946 she is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. She is magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks, gleaming varnish and brass. Foy boys and girls of all ages there is the thrill of going below deck to see and hear the mighty steam engines which propel the paddles that take Waverley majestically through the sea.
There was a real holiday atmosphere on board. In fact our cruise was a birthday present from a family member and did we enjoy it! Part of the enjoyment was hearing from complete strangers how they were enjoying their visit to Tiree and how friendly and restful they found the island.
No basking-sharks or porpoise today in the Gunna Sound!
The only downside to being on board was you needed an extremely long selfie-stick to be able to photograph the progress of ship. Thankfully a ground crew (John Bottomley) took over and supplied some excellent photographs.
Waverley starts her season sailing amidst the stunning scenery of the Western Isles and then spends the summer exploring the West Coast of Scotland. Today was her final sailing of the season in the waters of the Inner Hebrides.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) she leaves Oban for the Mull of Kintyre in readiness for her summer season on the Clyde. May the sun that shone down on her today continue through her season in Scottish waters. Later in the year she will make her way to Liverpool, the Bristol Channel and eventually arrive in the Thames.
The PS Waverley is history brought to life. This afternoon it was not ‘Follow the Leader’ rather the ‘Leader’ followed the Waverley into Gott Bay, Tiree. Between them they have a combine age of 194 years. That’s another story.
This is ‘Life on Tiree’
with the assistance of John Bottomley
celebrating a grand day out centred on the Isle of Tiree.