IN his letter regarding the PS Waverley (September5) Robin M Brown advocates Perspex or metal mesh protection above the current barrier between the engine and the passage to avoid someone falling into the engine.

As a Waverley supporter, passenger and volunteer, I can say that the current steel barrier is high enough to prevent passengers falling over it. One would have to climb over the barrier, which would be extremely hard to to do as there are no footholds on the solid steel barrier. In the extremely unlikely event of someone falling over, there is a walkway on the other side of the barrier which would break a fall. Since the Waverley started back on the Clyde and round the UK coast in 1975, millions of passengers have walked passed the engines, with no incidents of passengers falling into the engines.

Mr Brown makes no mention of the risk of revellers or boisterous children falling over the deck guard rails into the sea, which would be so much easier.

I sincerely hope the Waverley's owners will continue to allow the engine viewing area to remain as is, so that many thousands more will enjoy the spectacle of our industrial heritage in the form of the large triple expansion steam engine, and all its movements and sounds.

David Riddet, Uplawmoor.

ROBIN M Brown's claim that the PS Waverley's poor manoeuvrability is down to a flat bottom and no keel is entirely erroneous. Independent paddle wheels are also rarer than hen's teeth. Without going too deep into the physics, the efficiency of the rudder depends on the speed of the water over it and paddlers are especially affected in this respect, compared to screw-propelled vessels. Unless they are making at least moderate speed, the steering effect of a paddler's rudder is always poor. Thus, Waverley usually makes its approach to a berth at a speed that allows its rudder to maintain some "bite" before coming to a halt, when all steering is lost. She then warps alongside. This usually works well until somebody miscalculates the approach and leaves "Stop" and "Full Astern" too late.

Barry McKay, Livingston.