The excursion business, especially with the preserved classic vessels, has continued to have major disappointments.
Waverley lost sailings after colliding with Rothesay Pier, with a rope round a paddle, and bending her stem. Having to go to drydock, Waverley’s Bristol Channel cruises could not operate. There were no reported injuries to passengers or spectators, but her final two cruises of the Clyde summer season too had to be cancelled. And this news came just days after it was revealed that some trips from Bristol by Balmoral were also being cancelled after the ship’s propeller was damaged by a rope.
Even worse, perhaps, is that in July, at very short notice, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced, after a brief exchange of correspondence, that Balmoral’s sailing with passengers on UK to Isle of Man routes must cease with immediate effect thus preventing operating her scheduled Manx sailings, including from Llandudno, Menai Bridge and Whitehaven to the Isle of Man plus local cruises in the Isle of Man scheduled for 21-23 July.
As the White Funnel Company, now running Balmoral, state the ship has operated these special sailings for some 30 years. She continues to be welcomed by the Isle of Man Government and carried out a passenger sailing with their agreement around the Island on 5 July this year. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, provided specific authority for sailings from the UK to the Isle of Man in 2015 when White Funnel commenced operations with Balmoral and carried this through into 2016. Similar approval had been granted for many years to Balmoral’s former operators. However, not it seems for the time being, if at all. Balmoral’s company, her supporters and volunteers were bitterly disappointed and frustrated especially at such short notice after considerable expense to market the programme of Isle of Man sailings.
The remainder of Balmoral’s 2017 programme should be unaffected. And the good news is that her season has been extended and some good late voyaging should result. And as I write Waverley is on her way to Weymouth for her South Coast duties.