Having steamed across the Atlantic, with a little help from her makeshift sails, in generally fine weather and with loads of sunshine Eppleton Hall arrived at Georgetown, Guyana on Sunday 14th December 1969 in heavy rain and in windy conditions.
Day after long day of looking out onto a seemingly endless ocean of nothingness with a distant horizon which did not change wondering if they were where they thought they might be, came to an end when the South American Continental shelf popped up on Eppleton Hall’s Fathometer showing a depth of 600 fathoms (about 1,200m in today’s money).
The second indication was when a very weak transmission was heard from Georgetown radio dead ahead. So Kip Waldo’s months of determined celestial navigation exercises with a sextant in fog shrouded Connecticut the previous year had paid off. His navigation across 2,000 miles of ocean using only the sun for guidance had proved to be spot on.
At 1.45am on Sunday 14th December 1969 Eppleton Hall picked up the flashing from the Demerara light. She came to anchor off Georgetown at 4.30am. The pilot came aboard at 6am and by 9am she was safely moored alongside the Booker’s Le Penitence Pier in the harbour.
The trans Atlantic voyage had been completed after twenty one days at sea. And they had done it without running out of fuel as they did earlier in their voyage off the coast of Portugal. But it was a close run thing. That morning there was only enough left in her tanks for about another half a day’s steaming. Put another way, enough for just ninety miles more.
The first paddle steamer to have crossed the Atlantic is said to have been the Savannah in 1819. The last to do it was Eppleton Hall in 1969. Indeed I believe that she is the only paddle steamer to have crossed the Atlantic in the twentieth century.
To be continued.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 12th December 2020.