The British people have a reputation of talking about the weather. It is a good conversation starter and normally gets a response. Living on an island lying off the West Coast of Scotland you are even more aware of the weather because so much depends on it, much more so than if you were living on the Mainland.
The Isle of Tiree is not flat. It is low lying and sits out in the Atlantic. There is little in the way of shelter, no high mountains and very few trees, consequently a major consideration is the strength of the wind. One of the helpful pieces of advice were were given when we came to live on the island was to be very careful with your car doors when the wind was strong. Injuries are not unknown!
Poor visibility can result in the cancellation of the plane as the pilots have to land by sight. Wind, on the other hand, can result in the cancellation of the ferry, due to the sea conditions. When planning to visit the Mainland it is important to consult the weather forecast in advance.
For several days last week there was very little wind and as a result the sea was unnaturally calm. It was a joy to out walking and with little wind it even felt relatively warm. It must have made conditions easier for those carrying out the on-going works at the pier.
Everything changed on Monday. As predicted it rained for most of the day and several island roads were flooded. The rain continued throughout the night and the wind also got up.
This morning at breakfast we looked out on a restless sea. From our south facing windows we had a clear view of the waves crashing on the rocks that surround the Scarinish headland. It was still pleasurable going for walk. It was just different. It felt like a morning to observe the ferry.
As the ferry turned from the Passage of Tiree (the stretch of Water that separates Tiree from the much larger Island of Mull) into Gott Bay the wind was blowing from the south. So the ferry ran into the bay with the wind behind it. There was little in the way of a bow wave as the ferry made its approach to the pier. What was noticeable were the waves breaking on the shore and the rocks. As they broke the waves sent up spray. It added a touch of drama!
The ferry has to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern towards the linkspan. (The linkspan is like a bridge that links the ferry’s stern ramp to the pier thus enabling vehicles to roll on and off.) As the vessel makes this manoeuvre it can appear as if she is heading straight for the pier. Thankfully the skipper and crew know what they are doing.
Although there was a swell running the ‘MV Clansman’ appeared to have little difficulty in berthing. As usual the first ropes to be cast and caught are the midship and bow ropes. Then the ferry cautiously goes aft and the stern ropes are secured. Only then is the ramp lowered.
The pier feels like the centre of island life for over an hour on the days that the ferry calls. At present it is a hive of activity for much of the time as the work continues on refurbishing the pier. Before lockdown the linkspan was replaced. Then when it was deemed safe to do so work recommenced on refurbishing the old pier. Right now the work on replacing the footway is nearing completion.
On days when the air is still and the sea calm it is easy to forget just how restless the sea can be. This morning was just a gentle reminder that the sea is restless.
‘Life on Tiree’ is a personal reflection of our life on Tiree and for that reason we do not normally advertise or promote. However, just like slogan concerning Glasgow, ‘People Make Tiree’. Yesterday we received an email for a gentleman asking us to covey his appreciation for all the help that he received from so many when he fell off his bike and broke his hip on the 23rd of September. The list of those who came to his aid is extensive and he wants you to accept his thanks.