Yesterday our Coffee Club had a day out on the Clyde. Joining more than 700 other people, we boarded the PSV Waverley (the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world) to go 'doon the watter' from Glasgow to Rothsay calling in at Kilcreggan and Dunoon on the way. It was a glorious day and we had a great time - even if it ended up about two hours longer than scheduled.
(Morning, high tide, Glasgow, (c) Ken Fisher)
The main reason for the late running was the logistics of embarking and disembarking large numbers of very frail elderly people, many in wheel chairs, with walkers, sticks and other accoutrements, as well as a few who were blind or had other disabilities. The ship's crew were simply amazing, patiently and good-humouredly carrying wheel chairs and their occupants down or up steep gang-planks (often needing four men to do this) and constantly apologising for the delays this inevitably causes. It is great that nowadays being elderly or frail or both does not mean being consigned to a rocking chair by the fire and that these folk were able to enjoy sun, sea and seagulls along with younger, stronger folk.
The delays had consequences... arrving very late at Rothsay, we were forced to circle while the Cal-Mac ferry took its timetabled slot and so landed over an hour late ourselves. Told what time we would leave again, which meant there was just time to go ashore, visit the loos, grab a poke of chips or a cuppa, the 700+ rapidly dispersed onto Rothsay. We actually sailed ten minutes late - and a group of four (none of ours) still managed to miss the boat! (They were told to take the Cal-Mac to Wemyss and the train back to Glasgow, and that they'd beat us back). Reaching Dunoon an hour late it took half an hour to shuffle passengers off and on - during which time the tide had gone out so far that the gang-planks had to be re-pitched! Sailing up the Clyde at low tide, and at full steam, we reached the Science Centre where we were told to move to the seaward side of the vessel to make it list and reduce the steepness of the gang-planks!
Finally on shore once more, and with hot evening sun, weary, happy travellers wended their way home.
We had a great day out, as I'm sure did everyone else (expect maybe the four who thought 3:15 meant 3:30 and missed the boat). The ship's crew were a great example to us all of how to be gracious, humorous and hardworking. I dread to think what time they finally got home last night, but they'd certainly earned their pay.
As we sailed along someone tried to recall the words of The Song of the Clyde, which I found here. Lots of the images are places we passed yesterday - and the Waverley plays a starring role. Enjoy.
* Our party included three Baptist ministers and two former misisonaries (that I know of) so the ship was in good hands (or was it?!)