In the lull between Storm Malik and and Storm Corrie the MV Lord of the Isles arrived at 6.30am at Scarinish, Isle of Tiree. Those travelling from Oban to Coll and Tiree had a very early start as the ferry departed Oban at 3:00am. Vehicles and their passengers had to be at the terminal no later than 2:15am.
‘LOTI’ sailed directly to Tiree only stopping at Coll on the return journey. The approach to the pier at Coll is very restricted so the ferry does not normally berth there during the hours of darkness. On days such as today, this adds 2 hours to the journey for those going to Coll and takes off about 25 minutes for those travelling to Tiree.
The previous sailing to Tiree had been on Thursday, as under the winter timetable there is no sailing on a Friday. Storm Malik led to the cancellation of both crossings on Saturday. (LOTI is the replacement ferry for the MV Clansman, while the latter is in dock for her annual overhaul and certification. LOTI has less capacity compared to the MV Clansman.)
Friday night int Saturday had been stormy with the storm reaching its peak over Tiree at 8:00am when the gusts hit 74mph. Thankfully the wind gradually died down overnight and by the time ‘LOTI’ arrived in the bay the wind sock was almost limp.
These days it is most unusual for a crossing to Tiree so early in the morning so it was an occasion not to miss. Living a short walk from the pier has its advantages. With no street lighting a torch and a hi-vis vest were a necessity. My timing could not have been better. I arrived in position to observe LOTI berth minutes later.
LOTI’s lights could be seen as she made away through the darkness of Gott Bay and on towards the pier. It always a sight to see a ferry approach the pier in the hours of darkness and into the lights of the pier.
Lorries, vans, cars and foot passengers made their way across the linkspan and onto the pier approach. This morning the vehicles for Coll had to drive off at Tiree and then once all the Oban traffic was on board, they reversed onto the car deck ready to roll off at Coll.
The skipper made a wise decision to operate to an amended timetable. By 8;30am the wind had started to rise and by lunch time Storm Corrie was beginning to be felt. Thanks are due to the skipper, crew and pier staff for taking advantage of this weather window.
The island also owes a debt of gratitude to the lorry and van drivers. Without their early rise the island’s two shops would not have been restocked, and parcels and supplies would have been sitting in Oban.
‘This is ‘Life On Tiree’.