Hopefully a year off will keep her afloat
THE news that the Balmoral will not be sailing in the Bristol Channel in 2013 is sad because she has become such a familiar sight for many years.
And we have probably all taken her for granted.
But running a 63-year-old pleasure steamer like this is a costly business.
And it relies on the support of grants, the public and especially volunteers.
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When the weather forces the cancellation of cruises, income is hit.
And that inevitably puts a strain on the charity which operates her.
The response of the Steam Navigation Company may disappoint some people but it is nevertheless a practical one.
It is aimed at safeguarding the future of both the Balmoral and her sister ship The Waverley.
The last thing any of us would want to see would be the Balmoral retired for good.
She has had a colourful history and a series of ups and downs since she was launched in 1949.
So a year out of action may well be a small price to pay for ensuring that the Balmoral continues to sail around our shores.
So let's all look forward to her returning to the Bristol Channel in 2014.