For one day only the MV Isle of Mull was redeployed.
She left her normal route temporarily to cover Coll and Tiree.

The MV Isle of Mull enters Gott Bay – Ben More on Mull provides the backdrop

CalMac is facing a crisis as a result of being a major vessel down.
The MV Clansman is still in dry dock and will probably be some for some time.
To make matters worse Good Friday witnessed the start of the Summer Timetable.

The MV isle of Mull framed by the dolphins and linkspan

Following the Easter weekend an announcement was made stating:
CalMac will be redeploying these vessels to the following routes:
MV Hebrides will return to Uig-Tarbert/Lochmaddy tonight
and will commence service tomorrow
MV Lord of the Isles will be re-deployed to Oban
to carry out Oban-Coll/Tiree and Colonsay services
MV Hebridean Isles will be re-deployed to Lochboisdale
to carry out daily Lochboisdale-Oban service

The view from the pier across Gott Bay to Ruaig and the Rum Cuillin. White horses and azrure blue waters

The Tuesday sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree was cancelled.
This was in part due to the need to have vessels in the appropriate ports.
However on Tuesday the MV Lord of the Isles was storm bound at Lochboisdale.

The MV Isle of Mull prepares to berth at Tiree

On Wednesday the MV Lord of the Isles departed Lochboisdale for Oban.
The MV Isle of Mull covered her morning roster to Craigure on Mull.
Then the MV Coruisk commenced a shuttle service to Mull.

The MV Isle of Mull comes cautiously towards the roundhead

The MV Isle of Mull departed Oban Ferry Terminal at 12:42pm.
She sailed direct to the Isle of Tiree berthing at 16:08pm.
She arrived to bright blue skies and sea.
“A real Tiree welcome!”

Watched over from the bridge the pier staff catch the midship and bow lines

The wind this afternoon was gusting from the north at 31mph.
With great patience and skill the Skipper berthed her safely.
He began by taking her bow across the pier’s roundhead.
At the same the stern was slowly brought in.
(Vessels berth stern first at Tiree)

The stern is brought alongside the pier

With no sailing the previous day the MV Isle of Mull was extremely busy.
As a consequence and as a result of sailing direct to Tiree
both Tiree and Coll Traffic had to be off-loaded.
This resulted in considerable delay.

The stern ropes are made secure

Coll traffic has to be reversed down the linkspan and onto the ferry.
This included reversing an articulated lorry down the linkspan.
Then in the confines of the car deck manoeuvring it into place.
This all added to the delay in the vessel’s departure.

The stern ramp is lowered and the linkspan gates yet to be opened

It looked as if a shoehorn would be required to board the final vehicles.
All booked traffic bar the bin-lorry for Coll was accommodated.
Finally the vessel departed for Coll at 17:16pm
The whole operation took over an hour.

Commercial vehicle drivers making their way down the linkspan

Tomorrow (Thursday) an other amended timetable will be in operation.
CalMac have issued the following timetable:
Thursday 5th April
Depart Oban 04:15
Arrrive Coll 07:20, Depart Coll 07:30
Arrive Tiree 08:30, Depart Tiree 09:00
Arrive Coll 10:00, Depart Coll 10:15
Arrive Oban 13:20, Depart Oban 14:00
Arrive Tiree 17:30, Depart Tiree 18:00
Arrive Oban 21:30
Tiree will have two sailings.

The traffic starts to make its way up the linkspan

The MV Isle of Mull normally sails between Oban and Craignure on the Isle of Mull.
In the past she has visited Castlebay, Coll, Tiree and the Adrossan-Brodick Route.
She can carry more passengers than the MV Clansman, but fewer vehicles.
She can carry a maximum of 80 vehicles.
She has a maximum speed of 15 knots.

Foot passengers make their way down the linkspan – no gangway!

The MV Clansman can carry 90 vehicles and has a maximum speed of 16.5 knots.
The MV Lord of Isles can carry a maximum of 54 vehicles
She can also sail at speed 16 knots

An articulated lorry commences its way up the linkspan

CalMac Ferries’ Interim Managing Director, Robbie Drummond, stated,
The average age of the ferries serving these routes is just under 22 years old
and CalMac’s fleet will again be stretched to its full capacity over the summer months.
Any issues with a vessel on one part of the network will have knock-on effects for other routes,
as boats need to be diverted or deployed elsewhere to keep the lifeline network running.

The MV Isle of Mull brought several commercial vehicles

He added,
The working life expectancy of a ferry deployed on routes
like those on Scotland’s western seaboard is around 25 years,
so with nearly half of the ferries working these routes already beyond that milestone –
and having been used intensively during those years of service –
the risk of mechanical failures and breakdown is significant.
It also takes longer to get older boats back into service when things do go wrong,
often due to the difficulty in sourcing parts across Europe.

Boarding has commenced for Oban traffic

What is particularly difficult is the short notice that CalMac has given of the changes.
It is appreciated in the present circumstances that vessels need to be redeployed.
You appreciate that wind and weather can cause necessary delays.
To give less than 24 hours notice of redeployment is unhelpful.
Funeral or wedding arrangements have to be remade.
Local business incurs additional expense.
And business reliability is questioned.

The difficult task of reversing an articulated lorry down the linkspan and into position on the car deck

Pier staff often work under challenging circumstances.
However they are frequently at the frontline when it comes to complaints.
They ought to have our respect for their professionalism in the present crisis.

With hardly an inch to spare the stern ramp is raised

This ‘Life on Tiree’ on a day of spring sunshine.
It was also a day of a chilly north wind and white horses.

The MV Isle of Mull heads out to sea bound for Oban via Coll.

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