LETTER: Times on the ocean waves

AS an island nation the sea is in our blood. Wherever we live we are never more than 70 miles from the sea. Here in Rotherham a two hour drive can take us anywhere on the east coast from Scarborough to Skegness and on the west coast from Rhyl (Wales) to Morecambe!

If anyone feels down, a look back at happy memories by the sea is an uplifting  tonic!

I love the sea. The paddle steamer Waverley, a splendid two funnelled paddler, the last sea going paddle steamer in the world, still runs day cruises on the Clyde, Bristol channel, the south coast and the south east between April and October.

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It operates from each of these areas during the season, bringing back memories of the heyday of the paddlers. The Waverley and a river paddler called Kingswear Castle, which operates on the river Dart between Dartmouth and Totnes during the summer season, are owned by the Paddlers Steamer Preservation Society. I have happy memories on both.

The motor vessel Balmoral, which is a  traditional cruise ship operated by white funnel steamers, operates mainly on the Bristol Channel in July and August  but runs cruises in other coastal areas from May to October including North Wales.

The last time I went on it was from Scarborough along the coast to Bridlington bay and back, turning opposite Bridlington’s Expanse hotel. Scarborough’s Coronia and Regal Lady were small compared to Balmoral which like the Waverley had restaurants, bar and gift shop on board.

I went on it many years ago from Ilfracombe to Lundy Island. The sea was rough, on board were a party of school children, the junior school children were seasick, vomiting over the side, and down below the portholes were covered in it. One boy however was not sick, he looked slightly off colour but I sat next to him engaging him in conversation to take his mind off it and it worked.

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The steamship Shieldhall operates out of Southampton. A traditional style cargo ship now in preservation, takes passengers on trips including around the Isle of White. Passengers were allowed onto the bridge and wheelhouse. It’s a large vessel with a restaurant and gift shop. As it has been adapted to carry passengers. in the wheelhouse I had to ask if I could take the wheel.

I was allowed to stand behind it and steer. The captain’s view from the wheelhouse and bridge was a great experience, standing with the crew and through that experience it showed me how difficult it was for the crew of the Titanic to turn the ships. They don’t turn like a car on tarmac, the turning of a ship is  low and wide, and you must have enough clearance, especially for a large ship.

The Shiledhall, like the Titanic, is operated by the same style of steam engines except using oil instead of coal. I, with my son, pulled on the rope that blew the steam’s whistle! Another steam experience was driving and firing a steam engine on the Swanage railway.

Peter Dallinson, Rotherham