Grounding of paddle steamer/passenger vessel Waverley

Location: Departing Girvan Harbour, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Waverley

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Registered Owner & Manager:   Waverley Excursions Ltd
Type:   Passenger vessel
Date   07/08/06
Location of incident:   Girvan


Waverley had made her approach to Girvan a little over an hour late before LW, to pick up more passengers for an evening cruiser. The usual practice was for the vessel to contact the harbour master before approach, but this was omitted on this occasion. The depth below keel was monitored on the way in and the least depth recorded was 0.9m. This was as expected. The ship remained alongside for 10 minutes, and then prepared to sail. The stern lines were let go, and the headlines tightened so that the vessel pivoted around the paddle box, and the stern moved away from the jetty. The vessel then started to move astern, and having moved no further than 2 metres, contact was felt on the starboard side aft. Two further attempts were made after swinging the stern further from the jetty in each case. They were unsuccessful and the vessel re-berthed to await the tide.

On the day in question, the tidal height was approximately 0.3m below its predicted level. There was no tidal gauge in the harbour, so people had not registered this.

Dredging work was being carried out in the harbour, and a survey carried out that morning by the harbour master showed that there was sufficient depth of water in the entrance, but that the shallower patch at the seaward end of the jetty had yet to be dredged. It is probable that Waverley briefly touched this patch on her way out. A survey of the vessel the following day found no damage.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to Waverley Excursions Limited, the operators of Waverley, to note the positive response to previous recommendations, and to encourage a positive reporting procedure with the harbour master when using Girvan. He also wrote to the Chief Executive of South Ayrshire Council, the owners of the port, to encourage the placing of a tide gauge near the entrance to the port, so that an approaching vessel can see the actual height of tide in the port.

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