On Wednesday 21st September, a group from VOS went on PS Waverley’s final South Coast voyage of this year and had a lovely time. Here’s an account of the day:
Everyone knows about the holistic benefits we get from messing about on boats. By definition, Portsmouth is a great place to pursue these benefits and VOS have found many ways to do so.
There are all sorts of maritime craft to choose from here. There’s one that’s sunk (Mary Rose), one that’s meant to sink (HMS Alliance) and so many others. For example, we have the WetWheels, the RO-RO, a landing craft which last saw service in the Falklands (F8) and even an RAF Rescue Launch (woo-hoo!). These are just a few examples of the vessels VOS take us to and this year, there’s been one more added on: the paddle steamer Waverley.
The world’s last seagoing paddle steamer in existence was back on the South Coast this year and the back office people at VOS leapt at the opportunity to get us onboard. And so it was that, on a beautiful September morning, we embarked on a ten-hour trip, Waverley’s last of this season on the South Coast – though she will be doing sailings on the Thames until 9th October if you fancy it!
Our group of eleven enjoyed the calm sailing, first to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and then back to the mainland at Swanage. Many of the group stepped ashore here for lunch and exploration. That said, the catering services on Waverley are excellent; good food is provided all day and there are four bars/cafes open throughout. After Swanage, the steamer went on to visit Lulworth Cove before returning to collect us, then return to Yarmouth and then back to Pompey.
There’s a gift shop on board too and you can actually post the cards they sell there through a genuine Victorian postbox. I went to buy a Waverley teddy bear at the shop and you could tell it was the end of the season because the Scottish chap behind the counter (Waverley is registered in Glasgow) told me he’d sold the last one to the lady in front of me in the queue. Very reminiscent of Ken Bruce… One bear out!
At the last call at each port of call, the Captain expressed his thanks to the harbour staff and townspeople of each town they’d called at and endorsed this with four loud blasts on the foghorn. My apologies if that’s not the technical name for the hooter, you have to remember I come from an Air Force background! Whatever it’s called, it was a moving and emotional farewell which added to our delightful day.
We are all aware of the substantive value and positive benefits of being on the water and I would add to that the good feeling of contentment that I saw in the people around me. There’s no doubt that boating is a relaxing activity that presents a perfect escape from everyday stressors. It’s all the more so when the hard part of sailing a steamer across the Solent is left to someone else!
We had a Scottish jig piped out to us as we docked in Portsmouth, a little song about the Waverley and it was the perfect end to a lovely day. Now, she’s on her way home with a promise to return next year. I’ve no doubt that we will all get the opportunity to sail on her excellent voyages when she comes back in 2023.
(Written by C. Kimber)
In addition to our own beautiful pictures, to get more of an idea of what our voyage was like, see some of the incredible scenery we enjoyed and more of PS Waverley herself, check out this YouTube video of the same route taken on the 11th September:
If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner to one, VOS would love for you to join our community. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOS is immensely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, as without their support and funding we would not be able to provide activities such as this one.