A Weather Window

In the prevailing stormy conditions, Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th of January proved to be a weather window for those seeking to travel between Tiree and the Mainland. Due to the weather and related sea conditions Thursday’s ferry had been cancelled. Although a flight had come out to the island from Glasgow Airport that evening it had been forced to return without landing.

Twin Otter with Saab in the background

On Friday morning, someone remarked at the Airport that it felt like Heathrow Airport. With no flight on Thursday there was a backlog of passengers wanting to fly to Glasgow. Additionally Friday morning’s scheduled flight was fully booked.

Saab on approach to the apron

Loganair dealt with the backlog by diverting the Islay Glasgow flight to Tiree. This resulted on two aircraft on the apron. The scheduled Twin Otter and the much larger Saab. No wonder if felt like Heathrow.

The Saab

The airport staff are to be commended for their usual friendly, helpful and genuine customer care. Thank you.

The rainbow that graced the two planes

Although our son was unable to travel on Thursday he still made his connection for his onward destination. As he sat on the Twin Otter on the apron a rainbow shone brightly over the two aircraft.

The Twin Otter prepares to depart

Saturday proved to be ‘The Great Getaway’ for those travelling by ferry. With Thursday’s sailing cancelled and no sailing on a Friday, the ferry was busy with several vehicles on standby for the morning crossing.

The Pier head Tiree

 There was an amended timetable in operation due to the backlog. The MV Clansman left Oban at 5:00am instead of 7:15 and sailed directly Tiree. The ferry does not berth at Coll in the hours of darkness.

MV Clansman approaching the pier at Tiree

As early as Friday CalMac were advising those planning to travel on Sunday to make the crossing on the Saturday due to the weather forecast. There will probably be no ferry on Monday and it is equally unlikely on the Tuesday.

The stern ropes are released

With plans in place for a trip south next week, we joined the ‘Great Getaway’. This meant being at the pier for 8:15. Just as we were about to leave for the pier there was a knock at the door. Friends had arrived unexpectedly to take us and our luggage to the pier. How kind they should come to see us off safely.

The stern rope being hauled in on the pier

The pier was a hive of activity and with the sun not yet risen the pier lights were switched on. Looking north it was still dark, but to the east it was first light, and by the time the ferry sailed, around 8:40, there was the first real hint of sunrise.

To the south the sky begins to lighten

It was as we sailed between Tiree and Coll that the sun eventually made an appearance. Sunrise was delayed as  the sun had to rise above some low level cloud to the south and east.

The sun rises above the low level clouds

With the pattern of sailing today, for the second time in a week, it was possible to go to Coll for the day from Tiree. Normally this can only be done on one day in the year.  However for anyone who had planned to go to Coll on Thursday and return on Saturday, they only had six hours on the island today.

The pier at Coll

The Isle of Coll only has a population of about 150 and it appeared that this morning there was a mass exodus. No doubt the majority of those travelling had visited the island for Christmas and or New Year. When the Coll passengers came on board the ferry felt really busy.

A new linkspan and a great getaway

Many of those on board visited the Mariners Cafe to partake of the famous CalMac breakfast. Once again we appreciated the friendly service of the crew both in the cafe and throughout the vessel.

The traffic begins to roll off at Coll

We left Tiree under red tinted skies but as the MV Clansman made her way down the Sound of Mull the dominant colour of sea and sky was grey. Around Lismore Lighthouse there was as a splash of colour. First of all, as we sailed towards the lighthouse we met the MV Isle of Lewis bound for Barra.

The MV Isle of Lewis passes Lismore Lighthouse

As the Lighthouse receded into the distance we encountered the MV Isle of Mull heading for Craignure on the island the ferry is named after.

The MV Isle of Mull bound for Craignure

When we disembarked at Oban it was wet, a fine penetrating drizzle. Once the traffic was off loaded, the afternoon sailing was then boarded. With time to spare we were able to greet friends waiting to board on the return sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Christmas is over on the MV Clansman

This is Life on Tiree taking advantage of the lull in the stormy weather to travel to the Mainland.

Onward by Train