LAST SEASON FOR WAVERLEY?
Last Updated on Friday, 06 May 2011 23:57 Written by Gordon Neish Friday, 29 April 2011 12:54
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Owners Waverley Excursions have warned that high fuel prices, combined with a drop in passenger numbers following a string of wet summers, could force the end of a decades-old tradition.
The ship has become a regular visitor to Dunoon Pier on its way ‘doon the watter’ to destinations such as Largs, Millport and Rothesay.
Owners are now appealing to the public to raise the £500,000 that they need to keep the historic vessel steaming.
The charity receives an annual grant of £26,000 from Glasgow City Council, but with the boat burning £400 worth of fuel every hour, £3m is needed just to cover costs.
Graeme Hogg, of Waverley Excursions, sad: “We are now faced with an extra fuel bill for this season alone of a quarter of a million pounds. Unless we can find ways of plugging this gap, this could be the last year that we're able to sail the ship because the economics become unviable beyond that.
“We think we're providing an excellent service, both from a tourism point of view and from an educational point of view, because there isn't another ship like this left.”
PS Waverley, the last remaining paddle steamer in the world, has faced a challenging start to the 2011 season.
She was delayed by a technical problem for more than an hour on her departure from Pacific Quay in Glasgow to Oban on Friday.
Later in the voyage a passenger became ill off the Mull of Kintyre and had to be airlifted to hospital.
Waverley had about 400 passengers on board for its trip from the Clyde to the Hebrides.
A doctor on board attended to the casualty before a winchman from a Royal Navy helicopter was lowered onto the ship.
The Waverley was then diverted to the island of Colonsay while the helicopter - on exercise in the area - refuelled at Oban airport.
The casualty was taken ashore by stretcher at Scalasaig before the airlift to hospital.
Waverley resumed her voyage to Oban and, despite the two incidents, arrived in sight of McCaig’s Folly just under an hour later than scheduled.
The vessel is undertaking 12-day cruises of the west coast of Scotland and the Western Isles before beginning her Clyde sailing season on May 27.