By Amanda Eleftheriades-Sherry
Photos by Caroline Finn
Crowds gathered at Balloch Slipway today, watching with anticipation as the Maid of the Loch was lifted out of Loch Lomond for just the second time in 40 years.
But her journey was not to be.
After hours of painstaking work, as she was nearly out of the water something went wrong. The wooden cradle on which she was being lifted collapsed and the 66-year-old paddle steamer travelled back into the loch at speed.
Standing with other local supporters we held our collective breathes waiting to see where she would stop and concerned for the safety of workmen onboard and in the water nearby.
Fortunately none of the team working on the operation were injured and she has now been towed back to her berth at Balloch Pier for a full assessment to be carried out.
The Maid Of The Loch team posted the following comment on their Facebook page: “Unfortunately an incident has happened with what we believe to be the carriage and the ship is now back in the water. We will now secure her back to the pier to assess the situation. Thanks for your support today, updates will be provided once we know more.”
There is huge local support for the vessel and decades of hard work, much of it carried out by local volunteers, has gone into preserving and restoring her. The latest stage was to lift her out of the water to start repair work on her hull.
Before the unfortunate incident we had been speaking to Balloch resident Margaret Nutter who remembered watching the Maid being built. She said: “I was a primary school child at the time, it was brought up to the loch in sections and built on the slipway here.
“My father and uncle used to bring me up to watch the progress. I sailed on her several times, before she stopped sailing she did show boat cruises in the evening and I bring all my visitors to see her. It will be lovely to have the engines back – and if she sails, I sail.
“My grandfather was in the merchant navy back when sailing really was sailing, so it’s in my blood.”
Clydesider would like to send our heartfelt support to all at Maid of the Loch and hope to be sharing better news in the near future.
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