A Debt of Gratitude

The Clansman berthed at Tiree

With no scheduled sailing on a Friday and Saturday’s sailing cancelled because of the stormy weather, it is a welcome sight to see the Clansman approach Gott Bay. The queue for cars and commercial vehicles is more or less full and there are a good number of foot passengers waiting. The wind is beginning once again to gust and out in the channel the waves are breaking high over the bow of the vessel. Will the Clansman be able to berth in these conditions? Will families be together for Christmas? Will our friends get off the island? Will other friends be able to get home? Will family members on board the ferry be able to share our first Christmas on Tiree?

Our attention is drawn to the lady police constable waiting to get home to family members on the mainland and to those about to work on the pier, handling the ropes and supervising the  unloading and loading of the ferry on the landward size. The constable is wearing her body armour and those working at the pier have their life jackets firmly secured. I am reminded of the debt of gratitude that I owe to them, for each in their own way put their life on the line as they serve others. Living on an island I am particularly grateful for those, who in all weathers, stand on the end of the pier to catch the lines and haul in the ropes. No wonder they wear wet weather gear, hard hats and life jackets.
Unbeknown to those waiting on shore, the passengers on board the Clansman are being advised to remain seated until the ferry is berthed. Thanks to the great skill of the captain and crew and those working on the pier the boat is safely berthed and the transfer of vehicles and passengers is carried out.
Having sailed to Coll and Tiree and back to Oban the Clansman is dispatched shortly after midnight on an emergency sailing to Barra before a heavy storm cuts off the island over Christmas.
Supplies for the shops on the various islands and fuel supplies are being threatened by storm bound ferries. In the stormy conditions being experienced today, and the Clansman on her way back from Barra, we are left wondering if the MV Hebridean Isles will attempt to berth at either Coll or Tiree.
Happy Christmas and heartfelt thanks to all who work on the pier.