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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is ‘Life on Tiree’
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.