Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 57

ON THE WATER national importance’. Waverley is also the only operational ex-Railway steamship in Britain, coming to the end of her commercial life in 1973, when even the deficit-financed Caledonian MacBrayne could no longer afford to operate her. They made the wonderful gesture of “selling” Waverley to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for £1. There have even been calls for Waverley to be treated in the same manner as the likes of the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior. But of course the difference is that the Waverley is still a working paddle steamer. So she is a unique survivor, but this has been a make-or-break summer for her due mainly to the huge hike in fuel costs and a few bad summers. In the early 1970s when all remaining coastal paddle steamers other than Waverley had been withdrawn from service as uneconomic, the fuel she used cost about £12 per ton. That meant, on average, Waverley’s fuel cost was then about £120 per day. Today fuel costs over £500 per ton, and the daily fuel cost is about £5,000. Waverley uses fuel at about £8.40 per minute, and needs to generate at least £16,000 every day she operates just to stay afloat. Put another way, passengers paying £30 for their day out are paying for three and a half minutes of fuel! The next few months will determine whether Waverley will be weaving her way back around the Island in 2012. 57