Friday, August 20, 2010

Monarch up for Auction

Well, this is likely to be my last entry on this blog, as Monarch is just days away from being auctioned! The auction is taking place on Saturday August 28th and will be handled by Island Auction Rooms.

It is a huge shame that she may be set to leave the Isle of Wight but the time has come for her to move onto pastures new. The Monarch has been a huge success on the island, but personal circumstances have changed and we would only be able to run a weekend, charter only service from 2011 and our aim has always been to ensure that everybody (no matter how much money they have) can enjoy the boat on a daily basis. Paddle steamers aren't elitist, and they need to be used regularly to let them earn their keep-hence we took the sad decision to send her to the auction.

Below, you will see the information copied from the pre sale information sheet-if we can be of any assistance to potential bidders-just get in touch. We will be running the usual service up until Friday 27th-so you need to be quick and grab your space early!!

Pre Sale Information:

The Monarch is known throughout the world as the smallest paddle steamer in commercial use, and is one of just three examples in British waters to date.

The vessel is powered by a diagonally mounted, compound reciprocating engine which is supplied with steam by a horizontal, shell and tube boiler built for oil firing. The working pressure of the engine is between 130-160 psi, with the maximum boiler pressure set at 180 psi. The boiler is inspected by a independent examiner, and has full hydraulic and steam test certificates as well as metal certificates for all materials used in its construction.

The feathering paddle wheels are of steel construction and have adjustable nylon bearings which are lubricated and cooled by river/sea water.

Also on board is a Paguro 3000 diesel electric generator, powering the Riello oil burner, electric circulating pump, lighting and 12v supplies as well as having ample capacity for the use of power tools or ancillary equipment.

A full ultrasonic survey has been carried out on the vessel (results overleaf) and it is currently fitted with a full compliment of zinc anodes.

The hull has been sandblasted and treated with several layers of zinc based primer, bitumastic covering and finally antifoul.

Boiler Work

Monarch’s boiler is a double pass, dryback, shell and tube design. The pressure vessel was re tubed by Peter Phillips, of Chatham Steam, in 2008 and in 2009 the dryback casing was renewed and the refractory recast by engineers at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. A new pressure relief valve was fitted in 2010, with the secondary valve being overhauled and tested.

A steam powered, auxiliary boiler feed pump was installed in 2009 and rests on a bracket mounted between the dryback casing and steam dome.

Engine Work

The engine has been overseen by Len Pullinger, senior engineer of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. In its time on the Isle of Wight, the valve gear die blocks have been machined, valve travel set correctly and cylinders and pistons fully inspected. An additional drain point has been installed in the LP reception chamber to assist with cold starting.

Crosshead and slide bar lubrication has been converted to oil from grease and is supplied by 6 wick fed oilers originally used on the PS Ryde’s triple expansion engine.

When undertaking work to repair the condensers upper raw water baffle, the economizer assembly was also inspected and a relief valve installed to prevent the feed water system from overheating should a fault occur. This failsafe has been used once, when seaweed clogged the raw water intake and allowed the crew to work on the issue without alarm.


Monarch cruises at around 6 knots, which equates to approx 42 rpm. The boiler uses 2.5 US Gallons per hour and currently burns red diesel; Monarch’s bunkers hold 40 gallons of fuel under the foredeck.

Whilst designed as a river/lake steamer, she has been used against strong tides with success, notably the River Tamar and the chain ferry crossing on the River Medina.

The vessel is transported easily by road, craning and haulage has always been carried out by Kingswell Heavy Haulage whilst based on the Island, and they have a good knowledge Monarch’s requirements.

The vessel is steered hydraulically and has an emergency tiller arm. The steering pump has recently been overhauled and performs well.

The Paguro generator has benefitted from a new alternator set and has been upgraded to 4kva from 3. It is raw water cooled and serviced annually by Brent Marine based in Newport Harbour.


Monarch is to be featured on the Edwardian Farm, the follow on series to the popular Victorian Farm, in mid December on BBC2. She will also be featured on BBC’s Country Tracks and has been a firm favourite of ITV Meridian Tonight who filmed a short documentary on the vessels renovation.

Being such a rarity, Monarch is often in demand by filming companies who are attracted by her ability to be transported easily to any part of the country.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Join the Jolly Young Watermen

We have recently been described by a well known New Zealand critic, Kurt Ganzl, as the Jolly Young Watermen of the Monarch. For those of you who don't know the words to this little ditty-here they are:

And did you not hear of a jolly young waterman,
Who at Blackfriar's Bridge used for to ply;
And he feather'd his oars with such skill and dexterity
Winning each heart and delighting each eye;
He look'd so neat and row'd so steadily,
The maidens all flock'd in his boat so readily,
And he eyed the young rogues with so charming an air,
He eyed the young rogues with so charming an air,
That this jolly young waterman ne'er was in want of a fare.

What sights of fine folks he oft row'd in his wherry,
'Twas clean'd out so nice and so painted withal:
He always first oars when the fine city ladies,
In a party to Ranelagh went, or Vauxhall:
And often times they would be giggling and jeering,
But 'twas all one to Tom their gibing and jeering;
For loving or liking he little did care,
For loving or liking he little did care;
For this jolly young waterman ne'er was in want of a fare.

And yet, but to see how strangely things happen,
As he row'd along, thinking of nothing at all,
He was ply'd by a damsel so lovely and charming
That she smiled, and so straightway in love he did fall;
And would this young damsel but banish his sorrow,
He'd wed her tonight before tomorrow;
And how should this waterman ever know care,
And how should this waterman ever know care
When he's married and never in want of a fare.

Anyhow, onto more mundane matters, tides are getting quite late for next week, so Monday there will be a sailing at 1700, but Tuesday and Wednesday there will not be a sailing. The rest of the week is as follows...

Thursday, 1000
Friday, 1100
Saturday, 1100
Sunday, 1130

So join us, the jolly young watermen for a cruise on the jolly Monarch!

The Skip

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Monarch on the Tamar

Joshua Preston of Calstock Ferry

Monarch and the wonderful Calstock Viaduct

Join us on the water in the sunshine!!

Wow it's hot, we're melting in the wheelhouse and engine room at the moment! Come and join us this weekend at 11.00 for a steam down the Medina and take a seat on the cool and relaxing aft deck whilst we drift past the lovely scenery of the upper Medina!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Monarch Back on Island

After a wonderful week in the lovely village of Calstock in Cornwall, Monarch has returned to home waters to once again 'do her thing'!
Call 01983 290124 to hear the current timetable.

The Skip

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Here's our girl being loaded onto the trailer by our favourite haulier Robby Kingswell...if you ever find yourself in a position to move a paddle steamer-he's your man!
Anyhow, the Monarch is now on her way and we'll update you just as soon as we can....TTFN

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monarch on Holiday

Monarch is due to be lifted out of the water today and will be heading down to Cornwall very shortly. I will meet her on Monday and take her up the Tamar to her holiday cottage in Calstock, where she will be the first paddle steamer to visit in 80 years!
Monarch will return to the Isle of Wight just after the Bank Holiday.

Catch you soon,

The Skip

Monday, May 17, 2010


Just as a reminder-Monarch is on her holidays from May 24th-June 1st and there will obviously be no Medina sailings during this time.

Last Saturday, the third annual Riverfest took place. It was the first event hosted by the Footprint Trust-and they provided some wonderful entertainment, stalls and activities for everybody. Newport Harbour looked really festive and fun and everybody involved should give themselves a pat on the back for coming together in such a short space of time.

The marshalls counted 4,100 visitors to the quay during the day, which isn't too bad....but next year it will be even bigger!!

We're working hard to make sure that Monarch is in tip top condition to make her transit up the Tamar and have replaced all of the engine gaskets, overhauled the pumps and finally got around to making my wheelhouse habitable again!! Many thanks to John Little for his carpentry skills and Len for overseeing the mechanical bits.

So, without wanting to tempt fate (.....yes, the Portsmouth fiasco is still ringing in my mind!) I think next weeks trip to Cornwall should be a good 'un.

When we're back, I'll post all of the Tamar photos on here-I imagine she'll look spectacular there.

The Skip

Friday, May 7, 2010

Monarch to Visit Cornwall

Monarch will be away in Cornwall from May 24th-June 1st for a private charter. We are delighted that once there, we will be able to offer a very limited public service between May 28-29th with help from the Calstock Ferry Service. Bookings need to be made through the Tamar Valley AONB Office, or by emailing

We're working very hard at the moment, not only to arrange Monarch's excursion, but also for our part in the Riverfest. This will be a great family event happening on May 15th on Newport Quay-we will arrive in flotilla with other steam boats and the magnificent tall ships operated by the Little Brig Trust.

See you there!

The Skip

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Sailing of 2010

We are delighted to welcome the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society aboard for our first available public sailing of 2010. The first group will depart from Gridiron Pontoon at 1030 to view the progress of the PS Ryde removal program. This will be an emotional trip for many as so much hard work has gone into trying to save this vessel over the years.

Passengers can find the pontoon by entering Red Funnel's East Cowes marshaling yard and walking down the passageway at the chain ferry end of the site. Please be aware that instructions have been issued to the organiser not to allow any person access to the pontoon until given instructions by a member of the crew.

We very much look forward to seeing you all!

The Skip

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Timetable Available Now

I am happy to say that the majority of the 2010 timetable is now available at:

Do make a point of coming to join us this year-if the weather boffins are correct about this will be a cracking time to get out on the water here on the Isle of Wight!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2010....The New Season Cometh!!

What a winter it has been!!!! I can report that there has been no painting, frenetic activity or maintenance achieved on the boat, apart from pumping out the bilges and clearing snow from the the end of the day what else could have been done!
Not only has the dreadful weather stopped any meaningful work on the boat, but it has also crippled me. Yes...I slipped on the ice like an old lady and have broken my arm. Could someone who drives up and down a river on an eccentric little paddle steamer enjoy an everyday, simple fracture? Not on your Nelly!! I have snapped the top bone in my arm (Humerus) and very nearly had to go and have, what sounded like, horrendously draconian and painful surgery! Thankfully for me, I have cheated the surgeons knife and live to tell the tale.

Over the next few weeks, we are determined to get the mahogany foredeck laid and install the new boiler feed pump which will further remove our reliance on the auxiliary layshaft (seen at 90 degrees to the crankshaft). Other than that, it is boiler test time again soon and once complete and fully certified for another years steaming will will get on with what we do best and get the old girl chugging along again.

Happy New Year!!

The Skip

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Paddle Steamer Still Chugging Along

The winter nights are drawing in, the frosts are threatening and the years finest sunsets are lighting up the evening skies. Most people in the boat tripping world give up by now and passengers lose the chance to see the wonderful sight of the trees changing colour, the delightful way low lying mist plays on the water and the sheer indulgence of cruising flat calm waters without the interference of nasty plastic gin palaces...goodness this is starting to sound like a Marks and Spencer advert!
Can you guess yet, that your intrepid skipper quite likes this time of year?
Anyhow, I urge you all to get out of your hermetically sealed and centrally heated homes and offices and come out with us to fill your lungs with the refreshing air that only autumn provides......go on, I dare might even like it a bit!

Till next time,

The Skip

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Winter Timetable

All Sailings: Please booking-no ride!! Payment is taken aboard the vessel, but all bookings must be made by telephone at least 24 hrs prior to boarding.

6: 1230
7 & 8: 1330
9: 1430
10 & 11: 1700
Floodlit Cruise Special (1 hr)
13: 1930 & 2030 - £15pp
15, 16 & 17: 1130
18: 1130, 1230, 1330
20, 21, 22: 1400
23, 24, 25: 1600
Floodlit Cruise to Cowes (2 hr)
28: 1930 - £20pp
Floodlit Cruise Special (1 hr)
29: 1930, 2030 - £15pp
Halloween Floodlit Cruise (1 hr)
31: 2030, 2130 - £15pp

1,2,3,4: 1100
5,6,7,8: 1400
14,15: 1030
18,19,20,21: 1300
22: 1400
Floodlit Cruises
27: 1900 (2 hr - Cowes) - £20pp
28: 1900 (1 hr) - £15pp

Festive Cruises
4,5,6,7: 1400
Floodlit Festive Cruise
11,12: 2000 - £15pp
13: 1000
16,17,18,19: 1200
20: 1300
Floodlit Festive Cruise
22,23,24: 1630 - £18pp


1730 (Floodlit) £45 pp

1800 (Floodlit) £45 pp

Prices £10 Adults & £6 Children (unless marked otherwise)

Surprise gifts for all Floodlit Cruises!!

Call (01983) 290124 to book. Please book at least 24 hrs prior to boarding.

Floodlit Cruises

During the winter there will be a limited number of opportunities to enjoy a floodlit cruise on the River Medina and see some of the wildlife that only comes out at night.
Join us for a romantic view of the river and make the most of the dark winter evenings.

October Floodlit Cruise:
Tuesday 13th: 1930 & 2030
Halloween Special
Saturday 31st: 2030 & 2130

Tickets £15 - Adults Only
Call 01983 290124 to book!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sailings to Continue Until Boxing Day

This year's season will be extended until Boxing Day this year, with just a 2 week period in November when the vessel will be out of service for maintenance.

The Skip

Monarch's Electrical Problems Sorted!!

Finally, the generator saga is over...for those of you that don't know, this is the story so far:

Our very expensive, quiet and reliable generator (required to power the oil burner, circ pump and lighting) needed a new set of windings early in the year and these were ordered in good time for the start of the season. They arrived, were fitted and we toddled off to Portsmouth's fantastic 'Celebration of Steam' to start the season in a glorious whirl of publicity.

Alas, when we tried to use the newly rewired machine...we couldn't even light a bulb with it-not to mention the oil burner and circ pump!

Much arguing later, the generator was sent to Kent to pay a quick visit to the UK's best engineer that deals with these particular machines. He diagnosed that the parts sent from Italy were the wrong ones, and we would have to wait until after August to get replacements as their factory take a long marine type holiday.

As a result, this season we have been using an ondeck petrol genny to provide power for the boat which is both unsightly and necessitates closing off the deck access to the main engine room door to the passengers for safety reasons.

Thankfully, after all of this hassle, we now have a fully functional machine which should last for many more years of punishment on the Monarch. We have even invested in a lead jacket for the generator to kill any noise that it emits as well.

I very much hope that this will improve the passenger experience and with the extra power that we now possess, we can begin this winters planned floodlit cruises on the River Medina...more about that later.

In the meantime, adios me amigos,

The Skip

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Timetable Update

Timetable Update:


Thurs 20:
1300 (1 space)

Fri 21:
1200 (fully booked)

Sat 22:

Sun 23:

Mon 24:

Tues 25:

Wed 26:
Fully Booked

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This Weeks Sailings

As many of you know, we operate one guaranteed sailing per day and open up other time slots once the boat is fully booked. Because of this system, it is essential to book in advance for the Monarch. This week's sailings are:

Thurs 13th:
1445 - Fully Booked
1545 - Fully Booked
1645 - Spaces Available

Friday 14th:
1600 - Fully Booked
1700 - Spaces Available

Saturday 15th:
Fully Booked

Sunday 16th:

Monday 17th:
1000 - Spaces Available
N.B This is the only possible sailing of the day due to tidal conditions

Tuesday 18th:
1100 - Spaces Available
1200 - Spaces Available

Wednesday 19th:
1100 - Spaces Available
1200 - Spaces Available

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Booking Advisable

The steamer is getting very busy and we are starting to turn passengers away that have not booked. The timetable changes every day due to tides-as do the number of available sailings.
Each day, there is one guaranteed sailing and when that is booked up we open another time slot to prevent the boat from running light. If you wish to join us, please call 01983 290124 or 07545 624501 to get your name down so that we can make sure that space is available for you.

Sailings are beginning to get a little later in the day at the moment, because of the fluctuations in the tidal pattern and passengers can join us at (in my humble opinion) the nicest times of the day on the Medina to enjoy the wildlife and glorious sunsets!

The boat itself is running wonderfully, and passengers are commenting very highly on the smooth ride that Monarch is offering of late!

For those that follow this blog regularly, I am pleased to be able to say that the generator saga is nearly at an looks like the factory sent us the wrong part-so hopefully soon, the current temporary generator can be consigned to history!

I'm afraid, I don't really have anything funny to say at the moment as everything is rather hunky boring!!

Anyhow, steam fans, TTFN

The Skip

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fantastic Steaming Weather

Monarch has covered about 100 miles since Friday, and she has done this faultlessly. The passengers have all had a lovely time and there was much interest in the little ship down river at Cowes Week.
From now on, the number of Cowes charters will start to drop off and Monarch will remain on the upper Medina for the majority of the time.
I was delighted, yesterday, to be able to welcome 4 prospective new crew members aboard to experience the boat, and I hope that we will see much more of them in the coming weeks.
Please, please, if you are thinking of joining the Monarch for a trip-telephone and book yourselves on...we had to turn people away yesterday!!

Anyhow, until next time,

The Skip

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Naughty Radio Two!!

As a fellow ginger, I have much time for Radio Two's Chris Evans; however, he said on Tuesday that we were a paddle steamer based on the Isle of Man! I shall send him a little map of our British Isles to remind him where our own little Alkatraz is so that he doesn't make the same mistake again!!
So panic not, punters-we're still here and steaming on the Isle of Wight...and I have even better news to report!! Since replacing the couplings, the engine has returned to silent and smooth operation. The trips today, since putting the new parts in, have been amazing; with only the sloshing of the water to be heard and not Monarch's trademark thump.
All being well, we shall continue service until Christmas Day when she will have a well earned rest for a month or so before being plunged back into regular service again.
Anyway, life aboard the worlds smallest paddle steamer is generally lovely, and a very busy week ahead is beckoning. Watch out Cowes Week....Monarch is coming!

Until next time,

The Skip

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Couplings

Well, they cost several hundred pounds and look like a cross between a giant Duplo block and a dog toy! We are replacing our fabric/rubber couplings with Polyurethane elements which should offer greater resistance to our very hostile engine room environment. The guys down at Renold in Cardiff seemed slightly bemused that we had driven from the Isle of Wight to get them; but to have waited any longer for delivery would have impacted on us heavily.
Anyhow, we'll be sailing at 12.30 today, after the new couplings are in and the paddleshaft assembly has been inspected.

The Skip

Monday, August 3, 2009

C is for Couplings!

Well, I write this whilst travelling from the Isle of Wight to Cardiff to collect parts for the Monarch! After inspecting the engine over the weekend, it was decided that the flexible couplings which drive the paddleshaft need to be replaced. As a result there will be no sailings today as the only place to get these enormously expensive disks of rubber is Wales!
All being well, the Port coupling will be back in before tomorrows sailings and the starboard one will be changed over in the early evening. After being tethered to the Medina Valley all season, it's rather nice to be driven in a modern vehicle through different countryside!

Anyhow, until the next time,

The Skip

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Maintainence Week

At the moment, the daily tides are getting quite late in the day; and this puts many people off booking a trip on Monarch. We get this about once a month and generally take the boat out of service for a couple of days to give us the chance of a quick catch up on jobs.
This time, The Chief Engineer is on his way to Kent for parts, whilst I shall be aboard, cleaning, painting and removing clutter that builds up over the weeks. Any volunteers for these arduous jobs are more than welcome during Friday and Saturday this week!

Apart from that, the improved Circ Pump is doing very well indeed and gives a mighty gush of cooling water from under the Starboard sponson!

The Skip