A Nautical Theme

It must have been around 10am that a caller at our home enquired about an unusual ferry berthed at the pier. A quick look at Marine Traffic confirmed that the vessel was the Hebridean Princess.  Built as a ferry she no longer operates in that capacity as after a refit in 1989 she emerged as a cruise ship.

Hebridean Princess at Tiree’s Pier

The ‘Hebridean Princess was originally built in 1964 to serve as a Car Ferry on the Isle of Mull service. Operated by David MacBrayne Ltd she was called ‘Columba’ and in due course sailed to many of the Hebridean Isles. In 1974, on the withdrawal of the veteran “King George V”, she served Coll and Tiree as well as Colonsay, Iona, Lochaline and Tobermory.

MV Clansman and the Hebridean Princess in Gott Bay (Tiree)

In spite off her humble origins the operators of the ‘Hebridean Princess’ make a bold claim, stating that she is ‘undoubtedly a ship that is one of a kind’. It is certainly true that she has been hired more than once by the Queen when holidaying in Scotland.

The Hebridean Princess at the Lighthouse Pier, Oban

The MV Clansman and the ‘Hebridean Princess’ are often to be seen together in Oban Bay but it is not often that they appear together in Gott Bay, Tiree. The ‘MV Clansman’ is regarded as the designated vessel for Coll and Tiree and on Monday( 27th of June 2022) both ships met in Gott Bay, Tiree. 

The MV Clansman preparing to berth

The ‘Hebridean Princess’ was the first to berth at the pier. A coach was waiting to meet those who wished to come ashore.  With the. MV Clansman’ due to berth at 11:05 the ‘Hebridean Princess’ had to move off the berth and anchor out in the bay, well away from the pier.

The Tar-Machine descends the linkspan
IA MacKinnon’s Lorry with roller descending the ramp
Pier Road – a grand approach to the pier

Recently several stretches of road on Tiree have been resurfaced and on Monday with the operation complete the tar-machine and the roller left Tiree for the Mainland. The roller was in fact carried off by IA MacKinnon’s lorry that had assisted Argyll and Bute by transporting materials across the island.  

The MV Clansman heading out to sea

Anchored in the bay

After the ‘MV Clansman’ headed out to sea bound for Coll and Oban I had to return home as duty called. Sadly I could not wait to see the ‘Hebridean Princess’ return to the pier.  Thanks to Willie Mackinnon, one of the pier team I at least had a photographic record.

The Hebridean Princess approaching the pier (by Willie MacKinnon)
The Hebridean Princess alongside the pier (by Willie MacKinnon)

At lunchtime we had to head west across the island as we help deliver ‘Meals on Wheels’. As we arrived in Crossapol we saw the NLV Pharos at anchor in Hynish? Bay. The last time we saw the MV Pharos she was alongside the other NLV Vessel Pole Star at the the Lighthouse Pier in Oban.

NLV Pole Star and NLV Pharos at the Lighthouse Pier, Oban
The NLV Pharos (helicopter on board) in Hynish Bay from Crossapol

At Balevullin we looked out across the Sea of the Hebrides to wards the Outer Hebrides. In the distance we could just about make out the outline of a ship. Marine Traffic identified the vessel as the tanker Rainbow Spirit.

The Rainbow Spirit well out to sea between Tiree and the Outer Hebrides

From Balevullin we made our way to Heylipol along the Moss Road to Heylipol. From Heylipol we made our way to Balinoe. As we drove down the Balinoe Road, right in front of us, we saw a Helicopter land on the NLV Pharos. We stopped at the access to Balinoe (Soroby) Beach to photograph the ‘Pharos’ and as we did so the helicopter took off heading out towards the Skerryvore Lighthouse. 

The Pharos with the helicopter taking off

What an interesting day it has been! And not only in the waters around Tiree. First thing this morning the weather was bright. By the time  visitors from the ‘Hebridean Princess were on board the coach that took them sightseeing it had started to rain. In the afternoon there was a return to more summer like weather. However in the evening the wind rose and the rain poured down. 

Pharos with the helicopter heading for Skerryvore

The wild weather continues into Tuesday and as a result the Tuesday ferry is on an alert of possible cancellation. We shall see!

One last look at the ‘Princess’

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

The Pharos from Soroby