The expression ‘Annus horribilis’ was brought to prominence by Queen Elizabeth II. In a speech at the Guildhall on 24 November 1992.  It is a Latin phrase, meaning ‘horrible year’. For many reasons CMAL/CalMac must feel that 2021 is their ‘Annus horribilis’.   In a press release. March 2017 CMAL stated, ‘The new vessels are earmarked for the Arran and Skye Triangle routes. . . . The first ferry is expected to enter service in the second half of 2018, with the second vessel following a few months later.’  We are now in the second half of 2021 and as yet neither ferry is near ready to enter service. 

The MV Clansman’ entering Gott Bay 30/08/2021

Photographs of the various vessels will be inserted in batches.

As a result of crew members testing positive for Covid on a few occasions ferries have had to be withdraw from service in order to undergo a deep clean and on occasions a replacement crew had to be found at short notice. If memory serves me correctly on one occasion this coincided with a ferry on the same route having to be withdrawn for ‘technical reasons’.

The ‘MV Clansman’ in Gott Bay’ 30/08/21
The ‘MV Clansman’ turning to berth at Tiree 30/8/21
The ‘MV Clansman’ approaching the pier

The fleet is aged and an increasing demand is being placed on them and as a consequence they suffer breakdown. Even the vessel brought into temporarily work alongside the MV Loch Seaforth has suffered breakdown twice and had to be withdrawn for repairs. The latest casualty is the ‘MV Hebrides’ which operates on what is known as the Uig Triangle serving Harris and North Uist.

Final safety checks on the ‘MV Clansman’
The ‘MV Clansman’ heading out to sea
Haste ye back!

The ‘MV Hebrides’ is underway in order to enter the dry dock at Birkenhead. The ‘MV Clansman’ has been transferred from the Coll and Tiree route in order to take over for 8 days on the Uig Triangle. As a consequence the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ has been withdrawn from serving ’South Uist’ leaving the island without a direct sailing to Mallaig/Oban. At least they have other options unlike Tiree and Coll.

Look close! The ‘MV Isle of Mull, Queen Elizabeth and the ‘MV Hebrides’

Today Tuesday 31st August, with the ‘MV Clansman operating out of Uig, the ‘MV Isle of Mull’ left Oban at 06:25 and arrived at Tiree at 10:20 having first of all called at the Isle of Coll. Our son who lives in England but is a keen watcher of Marine Traffic alerted us to the fact that the MV Hebrides was in the Passage of Tiree at the same time as the ‘MV Isle of Mull’.

The ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and the ‘MV Isle of Mull’
The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ and the ‘Queen Elizabeth’
The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ through the linkspan
The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ prepares to berth

After the ‘MV Isle of Mull’ departed the Isle of Coll she was overtaken by the ‘MV Hebrides’ making her way south to Liverpool. 

The high stern of the ‘MV Isle of Mull’
The stern ropes have thrown

It was a beautiful sunny morning on Tiree as we welcome to the first visitor of the day. There was an interesting line up of ships out in the Passage of Tiree. In the distance was the ‘MV Hebrides’, the cruise ship ‘Queen Elizabeth’ and the ‘MV Isle of Mull’. The ‘MV Hebrides was little more than a dot in the distance. The ‘Queen Elizabeth’ being vastly larger was more visible, although from our perspective she was dwarfed by the ‘MV Isle of Mull’.

The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ alongside the pier at Tiree
The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ thrusts away from the pier
The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ heads out to sea

This afternoon the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ departed Oban at 12:30 and sailed directly to Tiree arriving at 16:20.  LOTI as she is known is limited by a weight restriction – thus on Wednesday she will have to make 2 sailings to Tiree. It was a marvellous afternoon for the sail up the Sound of Mull and then down the Passage of Tiree.

What a picture – ‘LOTI’ with Mull as a colourful backdrop

The ‘MV Isle of Mull’ probably last visited Tiree in March 2021 and’ LOTI’ normally serves the island when the the ‘MV Clansman is withdrawn from service for her annual overhaul and certification.

‘LOTI’ through the linkspan 31/08/21
‘LOTI’ approaching the pier
‘LOTI’ from the refurbished pier

Yesterday, once again Tiree was officially the sunniest place in the UK. Today it is even brighter and much warmer. Nothing has been spared in making these two visitors(‘MV Isle of Mull’ and ‘LOTI’) to the island feel welcome.

‘LOTI’ alongside the pier
Waiting for the last foot passenger

CalMac are have their work cut out in order to maintain what is defined as a ‘Lifeline Service’. Island communities and their economies are depend on a reliable ferry service. No matter the difficulties the crews and shore staff provide an excellent, helpful and friendly service. There is no doubt that life has not been made any easier for them with the problems dogging CMAL/CalMac. Thanks to the the Tiree staff for your helpfulness.

Clear Away
Oban Bound

Heading out to sea

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

“That’s right focus on me!”

Tiree – What an amazing place for your honeymoon!
Arriving by ‘MV Lord of the Isles’.

The front of the van was even more decorated.