CalMac have issued a status alert that Thursday’s ferry (17th February) for Coll and Tiree has been cancelled due to an adverse weather forecast. On Thursday there will be an update regarding the possibility of putting on a sailing on Friday.
Storm Dudley – and possibly Storm Eunice – have added to the challenges facing the company and the islands that they serve this year. In a recent customer update they stated, ‘We are now well into the third week of extreme and unprecedented weather conditions – one of the longest periods of very poor weather and high significant wave height for many years.’ And that was before the arrival of Storm Dudley.
It is not just the weather that is challenging. CalMac are experiencing technical faults with some vessels that require urgent repair. In addition, some of the statutory annual overhauls are delayed, while engineers solve unforeseen issues presented during detailed surveys. The few remaining vessels serving Colonsay, Coll and Tiree are amongst the oldest ships in the fleet. Tiree is just one of the Hebridean islands voicing their concern that the present situation is having a major impact on the future of the islands in both the short and long term.
CalMac acknowledge that some communities (including Tiree) have been without a ferry service for a number of days and the impact this can have on lives and livelihoods. While it is good to hear of their concern what CalMac require are new replacement vessels – but this is outside their control.
Islander’s are aware that until new vessels are in service things can only get worse due to the age of the vessels in the fleet. This is the first year since we moved to Tiree over 8 years ago that we have been so conscious of the demands for urgent action across the whole west coast network of ferries.
Tiree has perhaps the most exposed pier that CalMac serves and a recent petition has been launched calling for action. Please consider adding your voice to this urgent call.
Pier masters have long been able to advise regarding conditions in Gott Bay where the ferry berths. An addition to the sources of information available to the ferry masters is a buoy out in the bay.
Storm Dudley struck a glancing blow to the Isle of Tiree when about 2:00pm gusts were recorded at 63mph. Although slates danced and the sound was considerable Tiree escaped the worst of the storm. Nevertheless the resulting sea conditions have led the master of the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ to cancel tomorrow’s sailing. (Sea conditions on the west of the island would certainly have been more dramatic with the wind and the waves powering in from the west.)
This is Life on Tiree