26 years ago this month, one of the best loved steamers of these islands, MV Columba, was retired from service at the end of the 1988 summer season after 24 years with Caledonian MacBrayne and David MacBrayne Ltd. She had revolutionised travel to Mull, and had served on every main route in the Western Isles apart from the Islay service. She had also achieved the seemingly impossible in succeeding the TS King George V on the Sacred Isle Cruise to Iona without a murmur of complaint and indeed amid general approval.
MV Columba had been a faithful servant to Tiree from 1975 until her withdrawal in 1988 and is fondly remembered. She still sails these waters as the MV Hebridean Princess and is now in her 50th year.
When thinking about 50 years at sea, it’s worth remembering what the Psalmist says:
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep”.
Author: Julian Halstead
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