The Hours of Darkness

It is Monday, 30th December and – unusually for the winter – we have two sailings from Oban to Coll and Tiree. Due to previous weather disruptions, an amended timetable operated today. In the winter there is no sailing on a Friday and due to the strength of the wind and sea conditions both Saturday and Sunday’s sailings were cancelled.

The MV Clansman berthing at Tiree’s pier

Due to the Christmas and New Year Holidays, many had planned to travel to the Mainland, while others had arranged to come to Tiree. Thankfully, by Monday morning the wind had died down and the sea was calm. Other than a light rain shower the weather was favourable.

The gangway raised and foot passengers ascending

For those travelling on the morning crossing they had to be at Oban Ferry terminal by 4:15am at the latest for a 5:00am sailing. It was an early start especially for those travelling any distance.

The stern ramp lowered and a watch being kept on the stern ropes

Under the amended timetable, the ferry sailed directly from Oban to Tiree, giving a crossing time of just 3 hours 20 minutes. At least on their arrival on Tiree, there is no long distance to drive to their final island destination.

Loading in progress

It being December, the MV Clansman arrived in Gott Bay under the cover of darkness around 8:20am. With the rain still falling, foot passengers had to make the long walk from the pier office to the ferry. By the time the ferry was ready to sail for Coll and Oban, the rain had stopped.

Foot Passengers boarded the gangway is lowered

Occasionally, usually when there is a livestock sale, the ferry sails from Tiree under the cover of darkness. However, this is normally in the evening.

One car and its passengers pleased to be off for the New Year

Under normal circumstances the MV Clansman’s Christmas lights are best appreciated when she is berthed alongside the pier in Oban. However, today, because of the darkness we could fully appreciate them.

Fresh supplies arrived today! Here as CV going off for the next delivery

The pier Lights, the Clansman’s normal lights and her Christmas lights reflected off the calm waters. It was a beautiful sight.

Last vehicle to board – remember to let the driver get off!

With the ramp raised, the vessel secured and the ropes released, the MV Clansman headed out to sea at 8:40am bound for the neighbouring island of Coll and then onwards to Oban.

Haste ye back

The Clansman later berthed at the Oban Ferry terminal at 12:14pm, fifteen minutes earlier than the advertised time. She left Oban bound for Coll and Tiree at 1:04pm.

A festive pier office

In between sunrise and sunset there has been a welcome break in the stormy weather. At least for some of the daylight hours there were blue skies. In the afternoon the wind rose just a touch bringing with it a nip to the air.

Balephetrish beach late after noon (15:40)

With the MV Clansman arrival advertised as 16:45 it was back down to the pier once more,  The last vestiges of the setting sun coloured the sky to the west as the ferry entered Gott Bay.

What a picture the Pier Office made set against the crimson sky

What a view the Skipper must have enjoyed as they entered Gott Bay and approached the pier. However, they must give their attention the matter of safely berthing.

The view west across Gott Bay

The MV Clansman in fact berthed five minutes in advance of the advertised time at 16:40 instead of 16:45. Although there were the last vestiges of colour to the west the vessel slipped into the bay under the clock of darkness.

The MV Clansman approaching the pier

This was the second arrival of the MV Clansman in one day and in the hours of darkness. This indeed is a rare occurrence.

The arrival of the MV Clansman

In order to berth stern first the vessel must swing round through 180 degrees.

Looking across the pier works

With the midship and bow ropes thrown first her stern is then brought alongside and the stern ropes caught.

The vessel coming alongside

With the  vessel alongside and the ramp lowered, commercial vehicle drivers go down the ramp and board the ferry in order to bring off vehicles that had been driven on at Oban.

Berthed and ready for action

The afternoon sailing was reasonably well load inbound to Tiree having departed Oban at a more civilised hour (13:00 hours). Outbound she was taking a lighter load that included a return load from a local haulier.

Local haulier I.A. MacKinnon

Once again we were afforded a good view of the MV Clansman’s Christmas decorations – all the effort of the crew. Thanks.

You need the darkness to appreciate the crew’s festive efforts

With the ramp raised, the vessel secured, and the ropes cast the MV Clansman slipped away into the darkness at 17:06. She has an expected time of arrival in Oban of 20:25.

The MV Clansman slipping away into the darkness

This is Life of Tiree reporting in the hours of darkness.
Happy New Year.





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