Yesterday Jane and I went on a mystery tour on a rather different sort of vessel – the MV Balmoral, a recently restored passenger excursion boat, built in 1949. There is lots of detail about the boat on the White Funnel website, and on the Heritage Steamers website. There is more detail about the engines below.
I spotted her first when the convoy of narrowboats returned from the Medway in June – here she is near Coldharbour point on the River Thames.
Here (courtesy of marinetraffic.com) is the route we took – Swansea (1000) to Ilfracombe, where most people got off and a few got on, then to Lundy (arrive 1400), then back from Lundy at 1630, picking up some well oiled passengers at Ilfracombe, leaving 1830 and returning to Swansea at 2045. We left the car in the Park and Ride, and were ferried into Swansea Docks via a rather fine fleet of buses from the Swansea Bus Museum. (we went on the second and third vehicles in that photo). Here – and later – we were shepherded by some very friendly volunteers, who support the operation of the boat, run by a professional (and equally friendly) crew.
Getting ready to cast off – the now-disused ferry ramp in the background.
Mumbles lighthouse, with the RNLI station just to the right
Some decent fendering. There were three sections of the pier, at different heights to cope with the very wide tidal range. We arrived at low water, the lower section of the pier was completely submerged when we returned later.
The Ilfracombe Harbour Master came to see us off safely.
At sea – still the Bristol channel I think, the Atlantic is the other side of Lundy.
The red deck above is the roof of the engine room – very warm and cosy on the way back when it got a little chillier. You can see the engines through the portholes – more detail in this video …
Short video of our trip
Chatting to the bridge – later on when most people were inside we were invited in for a quick peek, and to listen to the horror stories about berthing the boat at Sharpness!
Approaching Lundy – run by the Landmark Trust
Docking at the new jetty. The Oldenberg had nabbed their preferred mooring
Balmoral backing away, to anchor for a couple of hours.
New lighthouse. Cornwall in the distance, perhaps
Old lighthouse – not a bad view from the top though the windows were rather grimy
The main habitation on Lundy – pub, shop etc. The door at the foot of the church tower had been left unlocked, so we sneaked an unauthorised trip up the tower (only mildly chastised)
And finally one of the many videos from White Funnel themselves