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Opening cruise of the Bristol Channel 2013 season : Wednesday June 5th : Clevedon - Penarth - Minehead - Exmoor coastal cruise


A fair Wednesday crowd gathered at Penarth - probably around 120 passengers, but experience later in the day showed that maybe the best midweek potential is actually generated at the resorts currently mainly regarded as "destinations" under current timetabling policy.


Probably very few were "walk-ups" attracted by the sailing bill pasted along with numerous other placards on the construction site barriers around the under-refurbishment pier buildings


There are always a few photographers when Waverley arrives and Penarth pier's iron railings provide an attractive photo motive


Captain O'Brian brings the ship easily into Penarth. She is invariably here near low tide and passengers are required to descend to a lower pier level to board. It also makes it harder to get a "traditional" pier view on film


Just after 2 pm and soon after leaving Penarth : the bar is almost deserted but fortunately the weather was fine enough for almost everybody to be out on deck, with plenty of space to sit or circulate as the ship headed with the mild easterly breeze


Lunchtime takings in the restaurant do not appear to be healthy ..... at least at 2.15 pm


Plenty of people line Minehead harbour wall to greet her arrival. Most will be on the short coastal cruise. An expensive trip for just over one hour viewing the Exmoor coast from the sea, but around 100 people boarded, indicating the good potential for traffic from, rather than just to, resorts such as Minehead. Most of these people will be replaced by a new group of tourists before the following week, giving a continuously refreshed supply of potential new business. A rough head count indicated that there must have only been around 120 passengers from each of the usual "up-river" departure points, Clevedon and Penarth


The needs to be enough water to edge into Minehead's harbour


Waverley makes a fine sight at the west Somerset resort


Butlin's holiday "camp", seen in the background, is one of the major tourist traffic generators in Minehead


Waverley comes up-close with a range of local vessels - including Minehead's very own "Alycat" !


It is a fair trek, but pleasant nonetheless to get to the centre of the resort


A big attraction is the West Somerset Railway - a major player in the local tourist market. Unfortunately, the tide-enforced delay to Waverley's arrival meant that the recent steam-hauled departure to Bishop's Lydeard (near Taunton) was missed


Five steam departures in the day and it is still well before the main season : clearly something which a steamship should try and coordinate its timetable to correspond with. It appears that the Railway is doing joint marketing with major attractions along its line.


Fortunately there is usually a steam engine around somewhere to look at. This one is "Hall" class locomotive "Raveningham Hall"


As a heritage railway and unlike an operation such as Waverley's, it is not just the rolling stock, but the things that go with running the railway, however mundane, which all go to creating the complete attraction. A far cry from most of the facilities which Waverley now uses


...but there are modern facilities for refreshment ..... and train watching


There is usually more than one steam engine to find


The platform also has a large and well stocked souvenir and bookshop


A number of cannons "guard" the harbour - Waverley is now in line of fire of the first as she returns from the coastal cruise


Captain O'Brian surveys the crowds waiting to re-embark


Gangways are made ready


Soon it is back to Penarth


The remaining passengers will have plenty of space to stretch out as she prepared to cast off - direction Clevedon

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