Waverley makes a triumphant return

The splendid sight of the Waverley ploughing through the water as it approaches Lochranza on Monday.

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The 70-year-old Waverley paddle steamer returned to Arran for the first time in more than two years on Monday with her first port of call Lochranza.

Waverley has returned to passenger service following her boiler refit which was delayed during the lockdown. The much-admired iconic vessel should have departed Glasgow on Friday morning for her first trip of the season but a slight hiccup led to sailings being delayed by a day her first north Arran coast cruise on Monday.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions there are now fewer passengers and face masks must be worn. Hand sanitiser has also been provided.

Waverley’s general manager, Paul Semple, said: ‘We are delighted that Waverley is back in-service operating on the Clyde and carrying passengers. We are grateful to all those who supported our boiler refit appeal in 2019 and helped ensure that Waverley lives on. Since we opened bookings just four weeks ago demand for tickets has been high with several sailings now sold out. Waverley has a loyal customer base and we know many are keen to step aboard the rejuvenated steamship.’

Waverley’s reboilering started in mid-January following the successful appeal in 2019 which raised £2.3m in just seven months. The refit project has seen new boilers and electrical systems installed with other areas of the vessel refurbished. A revised sailing programme will be in operation due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions with a reduced number of calling points, reduced capacity and increased time to board and disembark passengers. Waverley will operate on the Clyde until Sunday September 6.

Mr Semple added: ‘With the length of Waverley’s sailing season being reduced from five months to just over two weeks due to Covid-19, this will present a funding challenge as we try to cover the costs associated with the coming winter period. We are now opening an emergency appeal to seek donations to ensure Waverley can survive beyond Covid-19.’

While the Waverley was spotted in Brodick Bay on Monday, she was due to make her first visit to Brodick yesterday (Thrusday) to pick up passengers for her first sail round Holy Isle to Pladda.

All photographs by Allan Napier