Derek Peters is chairman and finance director of Waverley Steam Navigation Company Limited (WSN), the charity that owns Waverley. He is also finance director of Waverley Excursions Ltd (WEL), its operating arm. He knows the steamer inside out: while still a schoolboy in 1975 he was assistant purser for her ‘hugely exciting’ first summer of operational preservation, remaining on board for five of the following six seasons. A graduate (in civil engineering) of Glasgow University, Derek pursued a career in banking until retirement in 2019 — whereupon he was invited to join the WSN and WEL boards. What with the boiler replacement appeal, Covid restrictions and the impact of Brexit on crew recruitment, he has had his hands full ensuring the paddler has a viable strategy for her first proper season since 2018.
Acknowledging that today’s regulatory environment has made the Waverley business ‘very complicated’ compared to the early years, Derek says the central challenge remains the same — to ‘continue providing new generations with the opportunity to sail on a real sea-going paddle steamer, maintaining her heritage machinery to modern standards of safety’. On the eve of her first public sailing of 2021, he kindly took the time to answer Stuart Craig’s ‘On the Spot’ questions.
What is your earliest memory of sailing on a Clyde Steamer?
There are photos of me aboard Waverley as a baby, but as a memory, at age less than 5, I remember standing by a doorway below decks, and my dad saying ‘ask the man what boat this is’. The answer was ‘Duchess of Hamilton’. That must have been the chief or second engineer. I have no other recollection of the ‘Hamilton’ unfortunately.
What was the last sailing you took?
Waverley on 2nd September last year. Diverted from Tarbert to Lochs Riddon and Striven in the pouring rain!
Holidays: Dunoon, Rothesay or Arran?
In childhood – only Rothesay and only once. As an adult Arran quite a lot, and Rothesay once or twice when our own kids were wee.
What is your favourite steamer?
No surprise – Waverley for sure. I like the looks of some of the Victorian boats too.
Which was Waverley’s best livery?
WSN post 2003 with the scumbling on the deckhouses.
If young enough, what was your favourite ‘streaker’, or if older, your favourite ‘Maid’?
I qualify for the ‘Maids’ but never sailed in the ‘Ashton’. Maid of Argyll out of the other three. I remember a wonderful lively trip in spring from Craigendoran to Gourock, Kilcreggan and Dunoon. I also sailed on the maiden (public) voyage of Jupiter in 1973 but still rate the ‘streakers’ as a curiosity!
Jeanie Deans or Waverley?
Never saw the Jeanie. Waverley for me.
A new turbine has been built on the Clyde. What would you call her?
To replicate the marketing genius of our forebears it would have to something topical and popular. Hogwarts Castle perhaps, or Craiglang(?) — or something from Outlander or Game of Thrones!
What would you like to see happen on the Clyde ferry scene over the next few years?
I agree with others calling for standardisation of the ferries and terminals; also for more ships and not larger ships. Routes to Kintyre need to be developed. And Fairlie should be looked at again for Arran.
The best point-to-point route you’ve sailed on?
Just for the scenery – Mallaig to Lochboisdale.
Apart from Millport, which pier would you like to see re-open?
Arrochar. And lots of others!
What inspired you to join CRSC?
It was the big boat charters in the early 1970s. The winter meetings in Glasgow too.
Would you like to see Zoom meetings become a permanent feature of the Club’s year, even once normal meetings are allowed again?
Yes. Allowing more distant members to take part (even me from my home in Fife) is a wonderful new facility.
What makes you continue your membership of CRSC?
My lifelong interest in coastal shipping, the quality of the publications and the winter meetings.
What could the Club do better?
The direction of travel is very positive at present. Keep developing the website and the online meetings; the technology doesn’t stand still. Also keep a presence aboard Waverley and the ferry fleet. Grabbing the interest of new generations is key!
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Waverley’s 2021 timetable can be found here.
PREVIOUSLY ‘ON THE SPOT’:
Published on 29 June 2021