Home And Away

On Monday morning the ‘MV Hebrides’ berthed in Oban having  sailed overnight from Liverpool. Later in the day she set sail for Lochmaddy (North Uist) where she berthed overnight. With the ‘MV Hebrides’ back on the ‘Uig Triangle’ (Skye / North Uist / Harris) the ‘Mighty One’ was released to return to Oban. 

The ‘Might One’ returns home to Tiree

At 8:29 the’MV Clansman’ headed out to sea from Uig (Skye) to sail south to Oban. Her ETA was 17:00 however she berthed at 16:16. The return  of the ‘Mighty One’ to Oban is most welcome. From the ferry terminal at Oban the ‘Clansman’ usually serves the islands of Coll, Tiree and Colonsay, with occasional sailings to Craignure on Mull and Barra.

MV Lord of the Isles bids farewell to Tiree

While the ‘Clansman’ has been at dry dock in Birkenhead for her annual overhaul and certification the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ has served Coll and Tiree.  Extensive works on the Clansman resulted in an extended stay in dry dock which resulted in the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ serving Coll and Tiree in one of the most difficult times for CalMac and trying times for the islands.  The company has been beset by reduced vessel availability, prolonged stormy conditions and problems relating to crew availability due to the pandemic. 

MV Lord of the Isles departs Gott Bay

Most people recognise that what is a totally unacceptable service to Coll and Tiree is not down to CalMac and especially not the fault of those working on the ferries or in the ports. It is the failure by those in authority to invest in new vessels capable of sailing in  challenging winter conditions. There is no resiliance in the aged fleet that the company have at their disposal.

MV Lord of the Isles about to enter the Passage of Tiree

“Was that a ship’s horn I heard as I stood close to the old harbour at Scarinish?”  It certainly was!  It was 11:26 and ‘LOTI’ was pulling away from the pier in  Gott Nay (Tiree). She was heading out to sea bound for Coll and then onward to Oban. The short blast on the ferry’s horn appeared to confirm the expectation that was her goodbye for the present  and that the ‘MV Clansman’ would take over the route on Wednesday.

Framed by the dolphins and linkspan – a favourite view

With the winter timetable extended until Thursday the 31st of March there was no timetabled sailing. Then last week a sailing was announced for Wednesday afternoon. Instead of leaving at 07:00 it would leave Oban at 13:30.  Was this evidence that the Clansman would be available to serve Coll and Tiree?

The Clansman pivots in order to berth stern first
The Clansman approaches the pier

It certainly was evidence that the ‘MV Clansman” would be making the crossing to Coll and Tiree. Earlier in the day she had made a return sailing to Colonsay. This necessitated a quick turn around in Oban with the Colonsay traffic rolling off and the Coll Tiree traffic rolling on – not forgetting the transfer of foot passengers.

The bow about to cross the roundhead
Bow and Midship ropes secured

Officially, according to CalMac we are still in winter. For CalMac summer begins of Friday the 1st of April – no joking! The weather for the return of the ‘Might One’ (aka ‘MV Clansman’) was marked by a bright blue sky, even if the north east wind brought a chill to the air. What clear views today of Ben More on the Isle of Mull, the Rum Cuillin and the Paps of Jura – and all from Scarinish.

Stern Line being thrown
A high tide means a steep gangway

It has turned out to be a case of ‘Home and Away’ with the ‘MV Clansman’ returning to home waters and the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ returning to the  Mallaig and Lochboisdale (South Uist) crossing.

The traffic rolls off
Waiting patiently to depart

Life on Tiree welcomes the return of the ‘Mighty One’ – especially as on Friday (01/04) we plan to visit the Mainland to view some ‘Bens and Glens’ close up.   

Bow and Midship ropes released
The ‘Might One’ heads out to sea

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

The Mighty One is back in Tiree waters

Thanks to a thoughtful member of the shore team for this historic photograph. I prefer the other side of the camera but I appreciate the kind thought.