Aware that there was an ALERT from CalMac, the fist thought was that MV Hebrides had broken down and the MV Hebridean Isles was coming to the rescue. However, the message was to say the MV Hebrides had left Oban 50 minutes late for technical reasons (problems with her bow visor). She was on her way!
It is 50 years since Car Ferries began to serve the Hebridean routes. Capable of carrying 50 cars, and 600 passengers, the new ferries revolutionised services to the islands by the speed with which they could load and unload vehicles and livestock. Yet, how slow these side-loading vessels now appear when compared to their RoRo counterparts.
The MV Clansman is very similar in design to her half-sister the present MV Hebrides. Here on Tiree the MV Hebrides is a welcome visitor, but the ‘Mighty Clansman’ is our ferry.
The MV Hebrides is normally found sailing from Uig on Skye to Tarbert and Lochmaddy and in her early service life rarely sailed anywhere else. During the spring of 2007 the ship was converted to burn oil and was trialed on the Oban to Coll, Tiree and Barra and South Uist services. The Clansman soon arrived back and Hebrides returned north never deviating from her route except when she requires her annual overhaul. She revived a traditional name on the “Uig triangle” and is the third vessel of that name in the CalMac fleet. She carries the bell of the first Hebrides (an 1898 steamer) which also graced the second “Heb” (1964). The 1964 ship was MacBrayne’s first car ferry and very much a favourite, which for twenty years, also sailed from Uig, Skye.
Welcome to Tiree, if only for a day.