Any who think that the end of the long coastal excursions by paddle steamers of yesteryear brought a halt to a trip on the briny may be surprised to learn that there are still more than eighty vessels with Maritime and Coastguard Agency passenger certificates offering cruises on the South Coast today.
There are the big beasts taking passengers across the Channel or to the Channel Islands. There are their more modest cousins ferrying passengers to the Isle of Wight including the latest state of the art ferry Victoria of Wight, driven by hybrid battery technology.
Then there is the plethora of smaller local vessels carrying between twelve and 350 passengers on shorter hops, often viewing some of the most spectacular South Coast scenery. Take a trip to Brownsea Island. View the Needles or the Jurassic Coast close up. Glide down Christchurch Harbour on boats with only 6 inches' draft. Sail from Weymouth to Portland, passing break-waters and forts on a boat which delivered guns, ammunition and stores to them in the Second
With pictures and details, this book explores all the passenger vessels operating today in an area bounded by Weymouth in the west and Newhaven in the east.
John Megoran was born in Weymouth and grew up watching the last days of Cosens's paddle steamers in the 1960s. He returned PS Kingswear Castle to service in 1985 and subsequently ran the business on the Medway and Thames as well as sailing as the steamer's principal captain.