On 21st October 1969 Eppleton Hall was at sea and making her approach to put into Madeira the following day on her voyage from the UK to San Francisco.
The voyage had started on the Tyne on Thursday 18th September with calls made so far at Dover and Lisbon where she arrived on Friday 10th October after experiencing high winds and seas as well as running out of fuel off the coast of Portugal.
Eppleton Hall stayed in Lisbon for a week during which time the crew had some shore leave and enjoyed the port. Bunkers were taken on as well as the provision of additional fuel capacity in the form of a large collection of oil drums stowed on deck. A diesel generator was purchased from a car breaking plant and brought aboard for installation in due course.
By Saturday 18th October all was ready to sail once again on her voyage to San Francisco so off she went just as the barometer started to go into free fall once again plunging Eppleton Hall into yet more stormy weather.
The ship was not fitted with radar and this trip was in the days well before satellite navigation had been invented so navigation at sea and in the ocean was entirely dependent on taking sights of the sun at noon and the stars at night and this depended on the weather being sufficiently good, and with no clouds in the sky, so you could see these heavenly bodies. Without that it was down to dead reckoning with the captain working out where he thought he might be given the course he had been steering and the distance covered.
This was a concern in the approaches to Madeira with several rocky islands nearby but it all went well and, with the remnants of the wind still with them, Madeira was eventually sighted and Eppleton Hall berthed in the harbour at Funchal on Wednesday 22nd October 1969.
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 21st October 2020.