Well, excellent progress was made and the evidence is here to see in the images of her in dry-dock at Sharpness, and her triumphant return down the wide Severn and into the Avon, under the Clifton Bridge and back into Bristol.
It is a magnificent start to get her ready for recertification and a return to service next year, 66 years after her delivery from the Thorneycroft yard at Southampton.
Enough was raised for her to voyage in May, after her near two year lay up at Bristol, up to Sharpness where her five Year MCA survey was undertaken and considerable but not unexpected work resulted, including several new plates following Ultrasonic inspection. But no negative issues of major importance were found. Smart in fresh new paint she made the return trip on June 8th looking a treat. Seeing her shapely bow and the bone in her teeth she looks fit for years to come.
There were plenty of well-wishers to welcome her back, but they will need to help with more than just applause. The Balmoral Fund Ltd, a registered charity, has already committed a goodly £150k but more, estimated at another 200k, will be required to have her fully in condition for the excursion business next year.
In many ways it is a new start for Balmoral. The cash will be required both to finish the refit and at the same time undertake the business preparations, planning, marketing, print and publicity that a successful business will require. For the next five years at least she needs to attract a good many paying customers and to do that she needs organisation and professionalism. For the foreseeable future she with Waverley will represent one of the very few ways much of the UK’s population will be able to experience their magnifi cent maritime heritage.
It is said that modern society, especially the younger generation, is becoming more and more sedentary, in front of computer consoles and TV screens, being spoon fed their knowledge and experience via the web. Hopefully she will help rekindle a love of the sea and the coastal scene, but also a respect and an enthusiasm for the skills needed to work upon it. That’s why it is so important to take her into unfrequented and almost forgotten ports and harbours, opening up new cruising grounds and attracting new people.