Update, July 2010

At the end of 2009 we went up the new slipway at Crinan Boats for the removal and replacement of stern plating and the stern deck. Once work had commenced on the stern it was seen that some of the counter plating was in need of replacing. This was an extra not budgeted for, however, it was not practical to do the original work only and come back next year to undo the new plating to replace the counter. It was, therefore, decided to go ahead. This did put a strain on finances but, with the co-operation of Crinan Boats, we cleared all invoices by the beginning of May. Many thanks to them for an excellent job and their co-operation. It will mean, though, that planned work will be delayed until we can build up reserves.

During the work party period Kenny Pirie and John Corral worked in the fo’castle putting in a new deck-head, the job was finished by Colin Sharp, then the whole fo’castle was given a complete make over to brighten it up and make it a much friendlier place for cooks and galley slaves. Other work carried out by work parties included making and fitting new support legs for the radar mast, preparing the dinghy, replacing the light boxes in the cabins and the many other jobs that are required to make her ready for passengers, such work is much appreciated by the Trust.

Not long after the work parties we were shocked to hear that Kenny Pirie had died from heart failure. His unique sense of humour, his enthusiasm for the Puffer and his excellent voice whilst singing his Doric songs will be sadly missed. One example of his sense of humour is given…

Whilst departing Millport a yachtsman cried out… “Where are you bound for?”

The prompt reply from Kenny… “The scrap yard!”

During our second cruise we called at Dunoon for the first time in many years. This was arranged by Guy Pate who had spent two days on the work party… a birthday present from his wife whilst she stayed in the Crinan Hotel! On the same trip, visits were made to the James Watt dock in Greenock to see the water hydraulic accumulator and then a visit to the Coastguard station to see their procedures. We also stopped at the Titan crane where passengers took the lift to the top to see the video history of past shipbuilding, along with the view and the chance to look straight down the VIC’s funnel. With the weather deteriorating we docked at Plantation Quay in the centre of Glasgow and the next mornings weather forecast of SW6/8 occasionally 9 then WSW9 meant that we were staying in Glasgow. The passengers took the opportunity to visit the three master, Glen Lee, the Transport Museum, Kelvin Art Gallery and the many other attractions that the city has to offer.

Later whilst on the Caledonian Canal the cook and galley slave took the opportunity to swim in Loch Oick, diving from the boat into, as they found out, the very cold waters. They used the new ‘Carley float’ to get out and then had to rush into the engine room to warm up! Whilst in Inverness use was made of our taxi man Ian Fraser and his brother who guided us around Cawdor Castle and the Klava Cairns.

Earlier in the year we had again participated in the Crinan Classics with the Mid Argyll Pipe Band playing as we entered the sea lock.

In July we also had the Coast programme and presenter Neil Oliver on board for a days filming, also present was Stewart Pearson who, as a student in 1954, spent a year working on the puffer CELT. The programme is, we believe, to be screened in mid Sept 2010 and will be number six in the series. We also have a DVD of Stewart retelling his experiences which can be obtained from the puffer shop.

Once again the Trust wishes to thank all those who gave valuable time and money to help keep the VIC 32 steaming, their efforts are greatly appreciated.

Mike Smith.