It is one week since we returned to Tiree from an appointment in Oban. Our return was delayed by a day because of the wind and sea conditions in the Passage of Tiree.
Under the winter timetable there is normally no sailing on a Friday, but thankfully the decision was made to provide a sailing departing at 5:30am. Although we had no pressing need to extend our stay in Oban, we were going nowhere. Thursday’s ferry was cancelled!
It was stormy even in Oban. When we ventured out from our accommodation, we were faced with high winds and frequent squally showers. Naturally we took a stroll down to the Ferry Terminal at the ‘Railway Pier’ and there sat the ‘MV Lord of Isles’ – She was going nowhere.
Oban Bay is sheltered by the surrounding hills and the Isle of Kerrera. nevertheless its waters were choppy – driven by the gusts of wind coming down from the north. About 9:00pm we took a last walk down by the pier where we we heard a voice from on high. It was a friendly greeting from the Skipper of the MV Lord of Isles.
Saturday turned out to be a stormy day with challenging sea conditions due to the swell. The vessel safely berthed on both crossings to Tiree in no small part due to the experience and skill of the Skipper. Someone remarked, ‘That man deserves a medal!” On the first crossing the vessel had been unable to berth at Coll and on its return to Oban it safely berthed at Coll but had to leave hurriedly when one of the ropes snapped. One lorry driver had an unplanned stay in Oban when he was unable to leave the ferry when the roped snapped.
Yesterday, Thursday, had been calm and folks remarked it was the calm before the storm. Today, Friday, first light heralded the approaching sunrise. It was hard to take in that a storm was fast approaching. Following sunrise the sky was blue and the wind was steady rising.
By lunch time the sky was getting much darker and throughout the afternoon the wind continued to rise. At present the gusts are over 50mph. From the warmth and comfort of inside the house it sounds wild outside.
Around lunch time the Tiree Ranger, Hayley.Douglas, posted the fact that there was a beached whale at Brock. Apparently it is a rare species called a Soweby’s Beaked Whale. A report has been sent to SMASS. She said, that because it is rarity and there is the possibility that it’s part of a mass stranding they have asked for it to remain on the beach until they can get out next week.
By mid afternoon the sea has been whipped up by the powerful winds preceding Storm Ciara. Saturday’s sailings have been cancelled and the general feeling is that there will not be a crossing until next Wednesday at the earliest. It is the school’s half term holiday and staff and families hoping to get away are trapped on the island. They are going nowhere! Those who were able to leave before the storm wisely chose to make their way to the Mainland on Thursday’s sailing.
Depending which weather forecast you choose the winds are predicted to gust in excess of 60mph with little respite until Wednesday. When Storm Brendon recently battered the island considerable damage was done to the dune system. We will have to wait and see what havoc Storm Ciara brings to the island.
The arrival of Storm Ciara coincides with high tides and this is not an ideal combination. SEPA is warning of costal damage and the need to keep well away from exposed situations where there is the danger of being swept into the sea.
This is ‘Life on Tiree’ reporting from a storm tossed Island of Tiree.