Impressive Seamanship

The south easterly wind had steadily risen over night and by the time Tuesday’s ferry was due the wind was gusting up to 41mph. These are challenging conditions for any ferry wanting to berth at Tiree. Real skill is required.

A stiff south easterly wind was gusting to 41mph

High tide had not long past but at least it was a falling tide.

The MV Clansman cants as she makes her approach to Tiree’s pier

The ferry had successfully berthed at the Isle of Coll, but looking at the sea conditions in Gott Bay would the vessel be able to berth here at Tiree.

On Monday afternoon CalMac had issued an alert.
‘Due to SE winds this service is liable to disruption.
The 2nd stop at Coll is at risk.’
Along with the alert there was an announcement.
Due to the works at Coll Linkspan being completed ahead of schedule,
we will resume vehicle service.

The ramp lowered onto the new Coll Linkspan

Thanks to Becky Wright of Tiree’s Chocolates and Charms for the above photograph of the new Coll linkspan in operation for the first time.
Video evidence attached to the bottom of this post.
Becky must have been wondering whether or not the ferry would berth at Tiree!

Challenging conditions

The MV Clansman turned from the Passage of Tiree into Gott Bay as she cautiously made her way towards the pier.

The MV Clansman sitting off the pier before dropping her anchor

In order to berth stern first the ferry must turn through 180 degrees. As the ferry made the turn to port there was a considerable cant. Having made the turn the MV Clansman then lay off the pier for several minutes before dropping her anchor to help deal with sea conditions.

On occasions the waves reached more than half way up the lamp posts

On several occasions the waves broke over the approach to the pier – even reaching at least half way up the lamp posts.

The crew wait in readiness at the stern of the vessel

With great care the ferry edged slowly back towards the pier and the linkspan.

The roundhead was in direct line of the south easterly wind and on occasions the waves broke over it. Most certainly challenging conditions for those handling the ropes on the pier.

The midship and bow lines are caught and the ropes hauled in.

With the midship and bow lines thrown and successfully caught, the ropes were hauled in towards the pier and the waiting bollards.

The MV Clansman’ powerful thrusters bring the stern alongside

With her powerful stern thrusters employed the stern was brought alongside and the stern ropes secured.

The vessel alongside the ramp could now be lowered

The MV Clansman had berthed.

The stern ramp lowered

The stern ramp was lowered and the car deck was emptied of its load as the vehicles rolled off and up the linkspan. There was no gangway so foot passengers had to follow the vehicles up the linkspan.

The pier approach

Then it was the turn of any waiting foot passengers to board via the car deck. After that the waiting vehicles proceeded down the pier approach, across the linkspan, over the ramp and onto the car deck.

The stern pushed off from the pier

The ramp was raised. With the vessel secured the stern ropes released and the stern pushed off from the pier.

With waves breaking on the roundhead the bow ropes are released

The bow and midship ropes were released and the anchor was raised.

The anchor raised

The ferry then headed out sea. As she did so there was an impressive bow wave.


The Skipper on this occasion was Chris Mackinnon with Andy Clark serving as first officer.

THE MV Clansman heads out to sea

This was a great team effort of Ship’s Master. First Officer, crew and pier staff.

A wee bow wave

This was indeed a fine example of great seamanship.

Another wave breaks over the bow

Tuesday 19th November at 12:34 CalMac advised:
Due to worsening swell conditions in Coll,
the 2nd stop was cancelled
and the vessel is now proceeding back to Oban
with an arrival time of 15:25.

We are heading straight for Oban – no second visit to Coll.

This is ‘Life on Tiree’ reporting from the pier.

Video of the first vehicles to proceed over the new Coll linkspan.
Video credit: Becky Wright of Tiree’s Chocolates and Charms.