Introducing

Meet ‘Carly’ and ‘Jenna’. Our paths first crossed on Tuesday (03:03;2020) when we made the crossing from Tiree to Oban. As a consequence of the closure of Tiree’s linkspan the MV Clansman was operating a foot passenger only service to and from Tiree. This naturally has had an impact on haulage firms as only essential supplies and smaller items of freight can be transported during the work of replacing the linkspan.

‘Carly’ in the Passage of Tiree with the Isle of Coll as the backdrop

It was as we were making our way between Tiree and the Island of Coll that we first saw the freight vessel ‘Carly’ crossing to Tiree. She is owned and operated by Ferguson Transport & Shipping. ‘Carly’ is described as a ’multipurpose workboat, support vessel and landing craft.’ She operates around the UK coastline, in particular off the West Coast of Scotland.

Carley at Tiree’s pier on Tuesday – Photo courtesy of S. Nagy

‘Carly’ arrived in Tiree shortly after 12 noon. Although she has her own on onboard crane and can self load and discharge a mobile crane is being used to discharge the cargo. As soon as the cargo was unloaded onto the pier she headed back out to sea bound for Oban.

‘Carly’ and the Mobile Crane employed to discharge the cargo – Photo courtesy of S. Nagy

Immediately after ‘Carly’ cleared the pier the crane barge ‘Lara 1’ swung into action. There was a weather window to lift the old linkspan, which has been in situ for over 20 years. Later that same day, around 7:45pm, ‘Lara 1’ began the work of lowering the new linkspan into place. The workforce described it as putting in a nightshift. It certainly was in more ways than one. Early the next morning she headed out to sea bound for Liverpool

‘Lara 1’ and the night-shift – Photo courtesy of S. Nagy

Our return home to Tiree was on the Thursday morning. The ‘MV Clansman’ departed Oban Ferry Terminal at 7:15 bound for Coll and Tiree. However, at least an our before our departure ‘Jenna’ had departed for Tiree. As we left Oban Bay ‘Jenna’ was already well up the Sound of Mull.

The MV Clansman followed Jenna up the Sound of Mull

What a wonderful view the crew of ‘Jenna” must have had as they made their way up the Sound. Low clouds were caressing and sometimes hiding the mountain peaks. On occasions whisps of low lying cloud could be seen clinging to the hillsides. On board the ‘MV Clansman’ we certainly appreciated the scenery that we were sailing through.

The view Bothe vessels enjoyed as they progressed up the Sound of Mull

Not long after we rounded the point just above Tobermorry ‘Jenna’ came into view. It would not be long before we overtook her. The ‘MV Clansman’ dwarfed ‘Jenna’ – nevertheless she had an important cargo on board that included the delevery for the Co-Op and Bùth a’ Bhaile.

We first became acquainted in the Sound of Mull

No sooner were we home than it was back down to the pier to be better acquainted with ‘Jenna’.

Jenna at Tiree’s pier – we meet again

It was interesting witnessing at first hand the whole operation. The crane’s jib would reach out, the hook would be lowered and the sling/straps would be attached to the containers. Then the hydraulics did their work and the the container would be raised and swung onto the pier. No wonder hard hats were the order of the day. The whole process would be gone through again and again until the cargo was discharged.

A temperature controlled container being brought ashore

Now Friday turned out to be an interesting day. For the duration of the winter timetable there is not normally a ferry sailing. However, this did not mean no activity at the pier. The work on completing the installation of the new linkspan continued but what was significant was that both freight vessels visited that day. That is correct! Two freight vessels – ‘Carly’ and ‘Jenna’.

‘Carly’ alongside the pier on Friday afternoon

‘Carly’ was the first to arrive at :1:37pm and departed about twenty minutes later at 1:58pm. She was lightly loaded and left Tiree bound for Kyle of Lochalsh.

‘Carly’ heading back out to sea bound for Kyle of Lochalsh

‘Jenna’ was the next to arrive at 10:50pm. With it being dark the pier lights were ablaze. However the level of light was nothing compared to when ‘Lara 1’ was in action doing her night-shift. She was not scheduled to come to Tiree until Saturday, but due to the weather forecast for high winds and the related swell conditions the sailing was brought forward. Np doubt the manger of Tiree’s Co-Op influenced the wise decision.

A busy nighttime scene

It might have been around 11:00pm but the pier was a busy place. There was the pier master and staff, the crane driver and mate, and several others from two local haulage firms, and more, as well as related vehicle movements.

It was after midnight (00:13) when ‘Jenna’ eventually departed for Oban with an estimated time of arrival around 6:00am. It could well be several days before we have a return visit due to the forecast weather conditions.

Reflecting

Work is progressing well on the linkspan and the present feeling is that it might be back in operation earlier than anticipated. When that happens we will be saying goodbye to Carly and Jenna. However, no one will object to the resumption of normal service.

‘Carly’ in Gott Bay

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

‘Jenna’ being loaded at the Lighthouse Pier at Oban