It was the day that the sun shone all day. After many dreich days of wind, rain and hail it was great to be out in the sunshine. The southerly wind might have been cold, but it did not matter because the sun was shining. As someone commented, “We could do with a few more days like this.”
Thursday’s sailing had been cancelled partly due to the weather, but also for operational reasons. There have been no freight vessels since last Friday so stocks were getting low in the shops. The good news was that there was to be a freight delivery today, Friday. Secondly with the work on the linkspan completed and weight tested normal service would be resumed on Saturday. Vehicles would at last have access to and from the island.
So it was the sun shone for the arrival of the freight vessel ‘Jenna’. She had set out from Oban around 4:00am and arrived at Tiree’s pier around 10:00am. The tides on Thursday were particularly high and ‘Jenna’s arrival was not long after Friday morning’s high tide. The swell that was running had the vessel rising and falling and moving from side to side.
The mobile crane was down on the pier ready to swing into action. It could have been no easy job operating the crane with the vessel tossing about. Most of the freight was in small shipping containers and one by one they were raised onto the pier, emptied onto waiting vehicles and then returned to the vessel.
One member of the crane crew was stationed on the pier and he acted as eyes for the crane operator with signals being the order of the day. With such heavy loads to be lifted from the cargo deck and onto the pier with its furniture and in such a confined space you realise a high degree of skill was required.
Several of the shipping containers were specialist ‘ARCTIC’ containers designed to handle refrigerated products destined for the Co-Op. With a return to normal service tomorrow this should be the last we shall see of them.
The final load to be swung onto the pier was some timber. There was one final operation to be completed.
With this being the final sailing that would involve heavy lifting the crane’s ballast bars were swung onto Jenna’s cargo deck. The crane is booked onto Sunday’s sailing but with its ballast bars it would have been too heavy for the ferry.
The crew of the crane have seen sunshine today but for much of their time on the island the weather has been rough. The weather and sea conditions led on more than one occasion to the cancellation of the freight vessel and left the crane crew redundant for much of the time.
The expectation was that the other freight vessel ‘Carly’ would also arrive on Friday, but at present she is still in the Mainland port of Mallaig. Around 11:25am ‘Jenna’ left Tiree for the Mainland port of Oban.
‘Jenna’ arrived back in Oban around 6:00pm after a long day.
It was with a sounding of her and hoot from the crane ‘Jenna’ farewells were exchanged.
We shall have to wait and see if ‘Jenna’ makes another appearance but for the time being this is expected to be her last visit to Tiree. With the wind beginning to rise Saturday’s sailing of the ‘Lord of the Isles’ is on an alert for possible cancellation. Exciting times.
A short video clip of the crane in operation.