THE LAUNCH of Cardiff Cruises’ new sightseeing boat trips from Penarth Pier is scheduled for this weekend – after the inaugural sailing had to be postponed due to a lack of funding for a new gangway.

Fundraising for the new gangway had proven “slower than expected” and the inaugural sailing was postponed from Bank Holiday Monday, May 5, until Saturday, May 10.

Before the postponement a Cardiff Cruises spokesman said that the gangway they used at Cardiff Bay was “just too short and heavy” for Penarth Pier.

“The gangway that has been approved for use by Penarth Pier costs £1600 and is specifically adapted to span across the 1m gap presented by the pier at certain tide heights,” he said.

Chris Wyatt, honorary treasurer of Penarth Civic Society, said that the whole programme of cruises wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the work of officers from the Penarth Civic Society, who arranged the initial meetings between Cardiff Cruises, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and staff from Penarth Pier Pavilion.

He added that the Society had already agreed to meet the first £500 of the cost of the gangway necessary for the Dame Shirley to dock at the pier, but that Cardiff Cruises set the launch dates ahead of the funding being available for the gangway.

“The proposal arose from the very sparse schedule of cruises this year by the Waverley Paddle Steamer and the fact that the MV Balmoral would not be visiting the pier at all this year,” he said.

“We look forward to the Dame Shirley providing regular cruises from the pier although these will not, of course, be on the same scale as those provided by Waverley and Balmoral.

“As has been previously reported, Balmoral is currently undergoing essential maintenance prior to being able to resume sailing, and Penarth Civic Society will be exploring if there are any ways in which we can assist in bringing this wonderful old ship back into service in the Bristol Channel.”