Once we had our breath back the first stop had to be the engine. I had forgotten how good it smells (well to me at least) but the sound and the heat had stayed with me from my previous visits. There is a very special sort of heat around engines and I love it. It is also just mesmerising to watch moving. I will try and upload some video of it soon. I hadn't really thought about it before, but I guess it's quite rare to be able to get this close to a moving engine. I'm glad it's still allowed.
When you are next to the engine you can look out of the portholes and see the paddles moving. It makes it clear why she isn't the most manoeuvrable vessel in the world. When her paddles are going they are both moving together. Great for propulsion but it would help her turn if they could be slowed independently. They do give her great acceleration though and when she leaves a dock she does it very very quickly.
The next stop on our exploration of the boat was the lower bar. When they say lower they mean it. this is the view from the portholes in the bar. They are above my head height when sitting down and as you can see they are pretty much at sea level. I would guess that later in the journey when we had taken on many more passengers they were even lower. I really enjoyed watching them as it gave a great feeling of movement.
From Margate we headed out around the Kent coast towards Herne Bay. This took us past a wind farm and Reculver. When we were at university we often visitied Reculver, and had often read about how important it had been. You really appreciate how imposing it is when you see it from the sea. It was still clearly visible when were ready to turn into Whitstable. The towers of St Mary's church, Reculver are the blocky towers in the middle of this picture. The lower structure to the left of them are the ruined back wall of the building.
The next stop on our trip was Whitstable. This is somewhere we were both very familiar with from university and we had lived in the area for a few years after graduation. However we had never approached it from the sea. I hadn't expected the harbour to look so enclosed, it doesn't from the land side. It also seemed a lot smaller than it had. I have seen several ships being loaded with gravel, and they looked quite large. The Waverley on the other hand looks quite small and seemed to take up a lot of room in the harbour. Given how small the Waverley looks the queue on the dock was quite a surprise. She can actually carry 860 passengers and on Monday was just 6 short of a full load. It does make it quite hard to move around so I was very pleased we had taken the time to look at the engines while there were less people on board. As soon as we left Whistable we headed down to the dining room, thinking that the new passengers would look around as we had done. Sadly we weren't that lucky and had quite a queue for lunch (which is actually a very good thing for the Waverley she is run as a charity and all the profits keep her sailing). The food was good too, although it was the strangest haddock I've had it was tasty.
After Whitstable we headed on to Southend, which was one of the places I blogged from yesterday. All the way we were given information about where we were and what we were seeing over the PA. It was great to hear about the other vessels we passed. Some of them had almost as much history as the Waverley. I really enjoyed learning more about the history of the coast too. I think that had better be all for tonight, given I am teaching tomorrow. I'll try and finish off tomorrow.