I had hoped with luck to be writing this month about a much anticipated trip on the revitalised Balmoral from the little Galloway harbour of Garlieston in South West Scotland to the Isle of Man some three hours away.
She would then have swapped Scottish day trippers for Manx residents and holidaymakers to circumnavigate the Island taking in the ports of Peel and Port St Mary. I was to stay aboard and return to the Galloway harbour in the evening.
But the abysmal June weather put paid to this with wind gusting Force 6 and 7 and pouring rain. The captain had to cancel the voyage, though these days at least mobile phones make it easier to warn passengers and very few who had booked were not contacted.
The previous days well booked excursions from Whitehaven to Man, had also failed the weather test. It is terribly unfortunate Balmoral has fallen foul of one of the worst Junes I can remember. Earlier, she had undertaken Bristol Channel trips and despite relatively poor weather her inaugural carryings had been reasonable. As I write, the July weather is much improved, she is on the North Wales coast and hopefully she should have perfect coastal cruising.
I was especially disappointed I wouldn’t experience sailing out of the port with a historic relationship with the Isle of Man, Garlieston, which once saw big IOM Steam Packet paddlers sailing out of this beautiful creek on what, for a while, had been a regular run. This is hardly a populous area even for Scotland, but it was the arrival of the railway in 1876 which boosted Garlieston and brought special trains from the larger towns of Dumfries and the mining and industrial belts of Ayrshire and Lanark, ferrying Scottish Victorian and Edwardian trippers to the exotic isle in the Irish Sea.
Garlieston was named after Lord Garlies and founded in the mid 18th Century. Until the arrival of the railway, the principle means of transport here, as elsewhere along the Galloway coast, was by sea. Liverpool and English Solway ports were the natural places of trade. A ship that served long to connect this isolated corner to the wider world, was the Countess of Galloway of the Galloway Steam Navigation Co. Built by Tod and McGregor at Glasgow in 1847, this stately and reliable schooner rigged iron paddler linked Garlieston, Wigtown and Kirkudbright to Liverpool, livestock as well as passengers being a lucrative cargo. She had a long career in these tricky and often inhospitable waters being scrapped in 1880.
Will the Balmoral venture again to make a voyage ex Garlieston I wonder? It costs much in time and fuel to position for such a voyage which is utterly susceptible to weather in today’s health and safety conscious times. But I hope so.