One Day Sail

It is a matter of the correct spelling. Should it be ‘Sail’ or ‘Sale’. On Tiree today both would be acceptable. You may be wondering, ‘How come?’

The ‘MV Clansman’ arrives back in Gott Bay fresh from Oban/Liverpool

The ‘MV Clansman’ made her first appearance in Tiree today since her overhaul and certification down in Liverpool. In fact she only arrived in Oban Ferry Terminal at 5:17am having departed Liverpool the previous day.  At 6:24am she departed Oban bound for Coll and Tiree. And what a beautiful morning to make the crossing. She brought the sunshine with her.

The M’V Clansman’ preparing to berth stern first

In her absence the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ took over the route. However due to the sheer number of weather related cancellations the ‘MV Hebrides’ was taken off her normal route, the Uig Triangle, and she covered two crossings to Coll and Tiree, but a third had to be cancelled due to the weather. In the meantime the ‘MV Lord of the Isle’s went north to cover the Uig – Lochmaddy  (North Uist) sailings.

The ‘MV Clansman’ coming alongside the pier

Today, Thursday, it is a One Day Sail with two crossings. The ‘MV Hebrides’ is at present berthed at Brodick on the Isle of Arran and is no doubt waiting for dry docking on the Clyde.  Tomorrow Coll and Tiree do not have a timetable sailing and by Saturday the ‘MV Clansman’ will no doubt be relieving on the Uig Triangle. So it is literally a ‘One Day Sail’. 

Preparing to throw the stern ropes

Although departing Oban about 10 minutes down on the advertised time (6:15am) the ‘Clansman’ arrived in Tiree at 10:01am. Externally she looked fresh and clean as she prepared to berth. It was a beautiful sunny morning with blue sky over the island.

The ‘MV Clansman’ alongdide the pier – mail van in foreground

The reason for the two crossings is the other ‘One Day Sale’. It was held at the Tiree Rural Centre observing the appropriate covid19 guidance. The sale of cattle of all classes was due to be held last Saturday but had been postponed due to the weather.

The first cattle truck to arrive
The second truck to arrive

The cattle trucks are always a colourful sight as they progress up the pier and then head for the Rural Centre at Crossapol. Later in the day they will return in time to catch the second sailing of the day which is specifically put on for their benefit.

Local Halier – I.A. MacKinnon
Double Delivery today – with no berthing on Tuesday

The Clansman had an advertised arrival time in Oban of 2:25pm however according to Marine Traffic she berthed at 2:07. Her departure for Tiree was 2;45pm. The second crossing was a Tiree only sailing.

The Clansman heading out to sea bound for Coll and Oban

As the sun was setting the traffic began to arrive for the evning sailing direct to Oban. Inbound to Tiree the traffic was light. Included in the outbound traffic were three livesstock trucks, a tractor and cattle trailer and articulated lorries from the two major haulage contractors on the island. The foot passengers were mainly those who had been involved in the cattle sale.

The ‘MV Clansman reappears in Gott Bay jusst after sunset

Unlike previous days the sea was calm and the berthing straight forward. With it still being February the pier lights were on and this added to the overall picture.

Sailing past the roundhead

As the vessel entered the Bay much of the sky surrounding the island was a shade of purple or pink. By the time the vessel was opposite the pier the sky was much darker. It was great to have the ‘Mighty One’ back, even if it was only for a day.

Preparing to berth stern first

The moon had risen much earlier, even before sunset and added to the sense of theatre. This evening’s crossing was to be by moonlight. Whether or not the passengers on board would appreciate that fact was immaterial.

Give me the moonlight

Although it had been mainly a bright day with aonly an occasional shower by the time the ferry arrived there was a real nip to the air. Even without a stiff breeze it was penetrating. The coat had to be zipped up and the hood affording proteection to the head.

Cattle trucks boarding

Sailings under the cover of darkness are rare on Tiree and are generally at the time of livestock sales. Perhaps even more than in daylight the cattle trucks add to the colour of the occasion.

Prepared to head out to sea

With it being a direct sailing to Oban, with no stop at Coll, it should not be too late an arrival in the town. Still by the time the trucks both cattle and those of the local haulage expertds, it will have been a long day.

Oban Bound

It might just have been for one day but it was great to see the ‘Mighty One’ back on duty and serving the islands of Coll and Tiree. All we can say is, “Haste ye back! We miss you when you are not here.”

Night Vision Required

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

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!Cancelled!

Not unexpectedly the ‘MV Hebrides’ returned to the Mainland port of Oban without berthing at either Coll or Tiree. CalMac issued a statement at 14:16 stating that, due to adverse weather conditions the MV Hebrides did not berth in either Coll or Tiree and is currently returning back to Oban with an ETA of approximately […]

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A Weather Window

The arrival of the ‘MV Hebrides’ was an opportunity in more than one way. The vessel is a rare visitor to the twin islands of Coll and Tiree. Her normal area of service is the Uig Triangle, sailing between Uig on Skye and Tarbert on Harris – and Uig and Lochmaddy on North Uist. A return visit of the ferry to Tiree was an opportunity not to be miissed.

MV Hebrides in the Passage of Tiree

Today, Monday, was a weather window, in what has been a been a season of storms. As stated in a previous post in the past weeks the island has only had had about one crossing to the Mainland a week. With strong winds forecast an alert has been issued that the ferry will be operating to a revised timetable and importantly stating that berthing in Coll or Tiree is not guaranteed but will be attempted.

A distant view of the MV Hebrides

The forecast is for winds gusting to over 60mph overnight and altough they are expected to drop throughout the morning swell conditions last longer. If the MV Hebrides remains on the route for one more day there is a stronger chance of a berthing. No doubt there will be pressure on CalMac to return the vessel to her normal area of service.

MV Hebrides against a hazy view of Ben More

On Saturday when the ‘MV Hebrides’ berthed the conditions were wintry – wet and windy. Today the contrst could not have beeen more marked. The sky was a welcome shade of blue.

MV Hebrides in Gott Bay

With it being a late afternoon arrival in Tiree (about 4:15) it was not long before the sun began to drop. When the vessel returned to the Passge of Tiree heading for Coll and Oban the eastern sky wass overcast.

MV Hebrides through the linkspan

Having watched the ‘MV Hebrides’ berth we headed for Ruaig to observe the ferry head out to sea. We were able to watch her pass the tidal island of Soa as she headed out into the Pssage of Tiree bound for Coll and Oban.

MV Hebrides approaching the pier

What follows are photographs of the berthing and then the ferry heading out to sea.

MV Hebrides prepares to berth

MV Hebrides
Coming alongside
Bow to the Roundhead
Midship and bow lines thrown
Securing the midship rope
Bow Ropes under tension
Brining the stern alongside

A Welcome Appearance

Handling the stern ropes
MV Hebrides ready to lower stern ramp
The view across Gott Bay
The MV Hebides from Ruaig
The view across Soa
Leaaving Gott Bay and Soa behind
MV Hebrides back out in the Passage of Tiree

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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A Welcome Appearance

It’s Saturday and since last Monday Tiree has not had a ferry from the Mainland port of Oban, or for that matter anywhere else. Prior to that there had been no ferry berth since the previous Tuesday. On one occasion the ferry turned back out in the Passage of Tiree without attempting to berth at Tiree. On at least one day in the past week there has been athe normal daily flight from Glasgow Airport. Understandably the cupboard was almost bare. 

The ‘MV Hebrides’ in Gott Bay

The ‘MV Clansman’, the ferry normally deployed on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route, is down in Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification. In here place is the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. However today the ‘MV Hebrides’ made the crossing and she was a welcome sight.  The ‘Lord of the Isles’ has temporarily taken the place of the ‘Hebrides’ on the Uig Triangle.

The View through the link-span

The ‘MV Hebrides’ is the Clyde built sister ship of the ‘MV Clansman’ and both vessels are highly regarded by Skippers, crew and passengers for their suitability for the conditions experienced on the longer Hebridean crossings. Today the ‘MV Hebrides’ lived up to that reputation.

Hold Tight as the ‘MV Hebrides’ prepares to berth

Due to the previous weather disruptions traffic had built up in each of the ports, Oban, Coll and Tiree. Even with two sailings in each direction it is highly unlikely that the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ could have handled the volume and weight of freight traffic. 

Approaching the pier

Departure from Oban was 30 minutes later than the advertised time of 7:15am which meant that  arrival in Tiree was 25 minutes down at 11:30am.  Conditions were far from ideal.  High tide was at 10:57am The wind was from the SE and gusting to 34mph and due to the recent stormy weather there was still a heavy swell running.

Bow and mid-ship lines first

Conditions out in the Passage of Tiree were murky. Both the Treshnish Isles and the Isle of Mull were under a blanket of cloud. It was literally out of the murk that the ‘MV Hebrides’ appeared in Gott Bay.  No matter the grey skies and threatening clouds, she was a welcome sight.  There was no band or bagpipes to mark the occasion, but there could have been such was the pleasure in her appearance.

The bow and mid-ship lines are caught

As usual the ferry had to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern to the link-span. The bow lines were cast and caught. The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in and placed on the bollards and her stern then brought alongside.  The bow ropes were caught but such was the swell there was a delay in lowering the stern ramp. In fact the ramp was lowered and raised, before being lowered again. All eyes were on the tension being placed on the stern ropes.

The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in

Finally, with the stern ramp lowered the traffic began to roll off. The sheer volume of freight traffic was almost unbelievable in these days of restricted travel due to the pandemic. However, vital deliveries for  the CO-OP and Bùth a’ Bhaile had arrived.  Such was the amount of stock arriving that the CO-OP would close until about 5:00pm in order to safely stock the shelves.  

The powerful thrusters hard at work

The CalMac Status Page spoke of alterations to the advertised timetable being in support essential lifeline services. It certainly was an essential lifeline today.  The last vehicle to board the vessel  was taking the vet to the Isle of Coll.  It was good to know that the ferry safely berthed at Coll and that the vet did not have to continue on to Oban.

The stern ropes being thrown

A livestock sale had been scheduled for today but earlier in the week it had been cancelled as CalMac could not provide two crossings on the day.  Apart from anything else there would have been no room for the additional vehicles necessary for the transportation of the livestock.

An ANXIOUS Wait

The ramp ramp was raised, the vessel secured and the ropes released. The MV Hebrides made her way out to sea bound for Coll and Oban. After her arrival in Oban the intention had been for the MV Hebrides to make a crossing to Castlebay, Barra. However, the sailing was cancelled. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings. Will the MV Hebrides make a return crossing to Coll and Tiree before heading back to the Uig Triangle?

Alongside

Island life can be challenging. How we appreciate the skill and dedication of tho skippers, crew and pier staff. In no way taking away from those normally regarded as key workers, it feels like so many people on the island are key workers. 

A freight lorry rolls off
Last on – first off at Coll – note the registration
Preparing to head out to sea

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Departing Gott Bay

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A Vital Lifeline

Flights and sailings to islands such as Coll and Tiree are described as lifeline services. Transport Scovtland states, There are several Highlands and Islands air routes which would not be commercially viable without support, so Transport Scotland help to make these routes successful. We use public service obligations (PSOs), which are obligations imposed on a carrier to provide a set level of service on a particular route in order to ensure that the service satisfies fixed standards of continuity, regularity, capacity and pricing.

LOGANAIR TWIN OTTER AT TIREE AIRPORT

A week ago a national newspaper reported that Scotland’s biggest ferry operator CalMac has come under fire for wasting fuel and damaging the environment running a full service of empty ferries during the Covid-19 pandemic – a day after promoting its green credentials. During the first lockdown there was certainly a much reduced service. This past week it haas been reported that CalMac is reviewing the need to run a full service of empty ferries during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there is another perspective. For many islands the ferries are a vital lifeline service. Not all trafic is seen in passenger numbers for commercial vehicles are often shipped unacompanied.

The MV Lord of the Isles in the Passage of Tiree 11/02/2021

What is sometimes forgotten is that for islands such as Coll and Tiree the ferry service is literally a lifeline. Islands are no longer self-sufficient and have come to rely on the ferry for the importation and exportation of all kinds of freight including food. If the local shop has run out of something that you need you cannot simply pop round the corner to the next store.

LOTI turning towards Gott Bay – 11/02/2021

Thursday’s sailing from the Mainland Ferry Terminal of Oban was on an alert due to an adverse forecast of high winds. Normally it would have made at least one stop at the Isle of Coll, but it was sailing direct to Tiree with no guarantee of berthing. The ferry departed Oban on time, sailed up the Sound of Mull and proceeded south down the Passage of Tiree. The vessel made to enter Gott Bay, but she had no sooner made the manouvre than the skipper made the decision not to attempt a berthing. Thus the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ swung round and headed back to Oban

The MV Lord of the Isles changes course
Ben More provides the backdrop

This year the ferry has been a LIFEline service in a very specific way. The Covid19 vaccine arrives on the island by ferry. Today, Thursday, those in in the 70-75 age group were being vaccinated – thankfully the vaccine arrived on Tuesday’s ferry.  This was fortuitous, as the weather is set to deteriorate over the next few days with winds gusting to over 60mph. There may well not be another sailing to Tiree until Monday at the earliest.  It is a good thing we have done the week’s shoppingI   Outbound the ferry was due to carry ‘bloods’ and other specimens for testing on the Mainland. 

LOTI with the Dutchman’s Cap as the backdrop

I suppose unless you live on one of the Hebridean islands you cannot fully appreciate just how vital the ferry is to daily life – to things that you take for granted if living on the Mainland.  This is simply a fact of island life.  How we appreciate living on Tiree and are thankful for the provision of both the daily flight service and the ferry service five times a week in the winter (weather permitting).  We are grateful too for an excellent Medical practice who have been able to go ahead with vaccinations. (We have to declare a vested interest – having been vaccinated today.)

LOTI returning to Oban

For several days now we have had sunshine on Tiree. During this time much of Scotland has been under a blanket of snow, experienced freezing conditions and had several days of related travel disruption.  Although we have had sunshine there has been a real nip to the wind from the east, but the temperature has been higher than on the Mainland. Last night the temperature in Braemar was -23C° (the UK’s lowest in 25 years) . On Tiree the temperature fell to 1°

A wintry afternoon on Tiree this past week

What a pleasureit has been to look out across the water to snow capped mountains on neighbouring islands and on the more distant Mainland. This has been a pleasure that many have commented on.

A Panoramic View of the Rum Cuillin at sundown
Looking over Gott Bay to Ruaig and the Rum Cuillin
From Scarinish – Ben More at sundown

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

The Distant Paps of Jura
Sunrise over the Scarinish headland 11/02/2021

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