From first light this morning it was all go at the pier in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree. Opening our front door around 7:00am the sound of the crane barge could be heard. Were they about to replace the linkspan? It was time to investigate.
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At this point in the day it was a beautiful morning. The sun was rising just to the right of Ben More on the Isle of Mull. The waters of the Passage of Tiree that separate Tiree from the Treshnish Isles and the Isle of Mull were a deep shade of red. The clouds parted sufficiently to give a window on the rising sun.
It was great to be out even if there was a nip in the air. It was unbelievably still. No doubt this was why the sound of the barge could be heard so distinctly. Arriving at the pier it was obvious that the peace would soon be shattered by the sound of a pneumatic drill and a JCB. Work is underway to pipe water to the pier and this means digging across the marshalling lanes beside the pier office. In this respect it is convenient that there would be no vehicles requiring the lanes due to the work on the linkspan.
A mobile crane was parked up in one of the lanes waiting the arrival of the small coastal vessel that was expected to arrive just after noon with containers for food supplies and other essential goods. All the signs of the day’s activities were present right there – the mobile crane, a large and a small JCB, and the crane barge.
The crane barge, with the replacement linkspan on board, moved across the bay towards the pier. Was the massive crane going to be deployed this morning? Sadly, no! The crane barge Lara 1 would move off the pier before the arrival of the MV Clansman. Weather permitting the work would take place in the afternoon.
To the east the sky was still characterised by the transforming effect of the sunrise. To the west it was a very different story. The sky was dark, which in turn made the rainbow all the brighter. More rain was on the way!
What a day to have to leave island. No! Nothing to do with weather, but everything to with the action at the pier. A fact commented on by several people. Yet, our absence was unavoidable. An appointment in Oban was the cause of our leaving Tiree at this crucial time.
From the aft deck of the MV Clansman there was a clear view of the barge, the crane and the replacement linkspan. As the Clansman thrust away from the pier it could be seen that the old linkspan had strong ropes lashed around it in readiness for the forthcoming lift.
As we sailed up the Passage of Tiree towards Coll we passed the small coastal vessel ‘Carly’ bound for Tiree from the Lighthouse Pier at Oban. With the linkspan out of action, the MV Clansman is operating a foot passenger only service to Tiree. Essential goods, including deliveries to the CO-OP and Bùth a’ Bhaile, are being brought to the island in shipping containers on board the ‘Carla’.
By the time we arrive back on Tiree on Thursday, God willing, the new linkspan should be in place. However, it will be several more weeks before the linkspan is back in use.
This is ‘Life on Tiree’ reporting from the MV Clansman as we head towards the ferry terminal at Oban. It has been a smooth crossing marked by spring sunshine and showers. With it being a foot passenger only service from Tiree, it has understandably been very quiet on board.
As we go to print the latest news is that the weather is too windy for the crane to operate and that the lift has been postponed until at least midnight.
Well not quite. Just in time we received from our on Tiree photographer, D. Taylor, a photograph of the first lift. Thanks sir.