Home To Tiree

The weather has not been the most conducive to venturing further afield on the island thus the lack of recent posts. With a dental appointment on the Mainland we were keeping a close watch on the weather forecast. The appointment was on the Friday so this meant sailing on the Thursday and returning on the […]

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In The Gunna Sound

When it comes to timetables CalMac knows only two seasons, Summer and Winter.  Strictly speaking on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route they know three seasons, Summer, High Summer and Winter. However, the High season is listed under the Summer season. The High Summer season has long gone ending on Saturday the 21st of August. […]

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The MIGHTY ONE Returns

It’s Thursday the 9th of September and sunshine might have been more appropriate for the return of the ‘Mighty One’. On the other hand the celebratory fireworks stood out against the dark, thundery skies. Due to her sister ship, the ‘MV Hebrides’, requiring to enter dry dock in Birkenhead the ‘MV Clansman’ was sent to […]

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ALL AT SEA

The expression ‘Annus horribilis’ was brought to prominence by Queen Elizabeth II. In a speech at the Guildhall on 24 November 1992.  It is a Latin phrase, meaning ‘horrible year’. For many reasons CMAL/CalMac must feel that 2021 is their ‘Annus horribilis’.   In a press release. March 2017 CMAL stated, ‘The new vessels are […]

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The Crusher

It was Wednesday evening and on a Wednesday in the summer timetable the ferry arrives at 17:00 having sailed out to Barra and returned. Nothing unusual in that as it happens week after week. It was a beautiful sunny evening. {Let it be known that on Monday and Tuesday the Isle of Tiree was the […]

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A Blue Sky Day

Tiree has a reputation to maintain as one of the sunniest places in the United Kingdom and it will be interesting to see the official data for today. Yesterday, even with the mist coming and going, Tiree was the sunniest place in the UK. (For a video of the MV Clansman in the mist here […]

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A Day of Contrasts

In essence it began the day before on Sunday the 22nd of August. The day began bright and sunny, indeed warm for the Isle of Tiree. However, as morning gave way to afternoon parts of the island were bathed in sunshine while other parts were under a blanket of fog. For most of the day […]

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How Time Flies!

It’s 9:30am and I am walking across the Machair when the phone pings to announce a message from ‘Son Number One’. “Eight years ago today Mum, Dad and I were in Oban. Tomorrow they will have been living for eight years on Tiree. Time flies!” Almost immediately the phone pings again. This time it is […]

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A Welcome Return

In sharp contrast with the day before, the weather report stated that Tiree was enveloped in dense fog.  Although it was not a pea-souper, visibility was greatly reduced.  As a consequence of the poor visibility the daily flight from and to Glasgow was cancelled. 

Barely discernable the ‘MV Clansman’

On the way down to the pier I could hear what sounded like a ship’s horn.   A fishing boat was dipping in and out of the fog and this was probably one reason for the sounding of the ship’s horn.

A fishing boat dipping in and out of the fog

Yesterday morning the MV Hebrides took over the sailings on the Uig Triangle to Tarbert (Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist). After an early morning crossing from Tarbert to Uig the MV Clansman proceeded to Castlebay on Barra. From there she sailed to Oban. She was in place to be deployed on the 7.15am Thursday sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Arriving in Gott Bay and coming outof the murk

From Tiree’s pier the Passage of Tiree was shrouded in fog and it was out of the murk that the MV Clansman made her welcome return. She was well into Gott Bay before the outline of the ferry could be discerned. It was even further into the bay before she could clearly be seen.

The MV Clansman preparing to berth

With almost no wind and no swell the MV Clansman enjoyed calm conditions for her return to Tiree. In her extended  absence the MV Lord of the Isles covered most of the crossings, although on two consecutive crossings the MV Isle of Mull made an appearance. The latter was down to technical difficulties elsewhere on the network. The MV Isle Lewis which normally operates between Castlebay (Barra) and Oban is berthed in Stornoway (Lewis) with what has been reported as thruster problems.

The MV Clansman in front of the renovated old pier

In line with Covid restrictions both traffic to and from the Mainland was reassuringly mainly commercial vehicles. It was good to see, even from a distance, well known faces among the crew.

Well known faces

The equinox in March and the month of April can still bring with them stormy conditions so it is reassuring to have the ‘Mighty One’ back on duty.

Midship and bow ropes being hauled in

Welcome home.

The ramp lowered and local drivers board the car deck

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

MV Clansman – A Welcome Return

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Success

It is Monday and after the recent spell of stormy weather things have settled down. It was pleasantly mild for this morning’s walk around Scarinish. Conditions in Gott Bay could hardly have been better for the berthing of the MV Lord of the Isles with hardly a breath of wind and calm seas.

A distant view of the MV Isle of Mull

The aim had been to report on Saturday’s activities at the pier but a busy weekend put paid to that. At last a window of opportunity to give an update.

Through the Linkspan

Anyone with an interest in the ferries serving the Clyde and islands of the West Coast of Scotland  will be aware of the issues facing the ferry operator at the present time. An aged fleet, a global pandemic, adverse weather conditions, technical issues and vessels in turn withdrawn for their annual overhaul and certification – these are just some of the issues.

Turning in order to berth stern first

As a consequence CalMac are having to deploy the remaining vessels in the fleet as best as they can. One look at the ‘Status’ of the various routes is punctuated with explanations like: – Due to a technical issue elsewhere in the network, please note that there will be only stop at Coll. Due to a technical issue elsewhere in the network, this service has been cancelled. Due to adverse weather conditions this service is liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.

A Bridge Eye View

The ongoing situation has serious consequences for island life and businesses. On the lighter side, those who enjoy ferry watching are able to observe ferries they would not see in more normal circumstances.

With bow across the roundhead

With Thursday’s sailing to Coll and Tiree unable to successfully berth at either port, the MV Isle of Mull undertook the crossing on Saturday morning. Designed for the short crossing from Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, it is not best suited for the longer crossing to Coll and Tiree or to Castlebay on Barra.  Thankfully weather and sea conditions were such the vessel could berth safely and successfully. 

Midship line thrown
Starboard ropes secured

On this occasion a member of the pier staff had to climb one of the dolphins which support the linkspan in order to secure an additional stern rope.  The MV Isle of Mull is high sided and so is more likely to catch the wind. It appeared that no chances were being taken over the ropes.

Not everyone’s Cup of Tea
Ready! Steady! Catch!

As had been reported on a previous occasion this particular vessel is an infrequent visitor to Tiree. She can carry fewer vehicles on her car deck but more passengers. So she has been deployed as an addition ferry when passenger numbers are extremely high – such as the Tiree Music Festival.  The problems facing CalMac and the build up delayed traffic, particularly freight, resulted in the MV Isle of Mull visiting Coll and Tiree on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday evening she sailed Oban to Barra, returning on Monday morning.

MV Isle of Mull alonhside the pier

Tiree required a delivery of petrol on Saturday and this resulted in the MV Lord of the Isles sailing from Oban to Tiree on Saturday afternoon. The MV Isle of Mull has a fully enclosed card deck and is unable to transport a tanker carrying petrol. There was no return sailing to Oban. Instead the ferry sailed to Barra.

Petrol Tanker on LOTI

In normal circumstances about the 24th of March the ferry would have moved from the winter to summer timetable. This year due to the pandemic this has been delayed until late April.  

MV Lord of the Isles departing Gott Bay – Barra Bound

The summer timetable would normally see the Oban, Coll and Tiree service extended to Barra once a week and in recent years this has been on a Wednesday. This does enable a day visit (about six hours) to Tiree. It has the added benefit of allowing Coll residents to shop at the CO-OP on Tiree. Although traffic is low between Tiree and Barra there are those who appreciate the service.

MV Lord of the Isles entering the Gunna Sound

The ferry would normally sail to Barra via the Gunna Sound – the stench of water separating Coll and Tiree. Last year due to the emergency timetable and covid restrictions this once a week sailing was suspended.

LOTI approaching the navigation buoy in the Gunna Sound

On Saturday it felt a treat to watch the MV Lord of the Isles sail through the Gunna Sound.  As she left the Sound and entered the Little Minch you were conscious, even  from the shore, of the vessel rising and falling.  Normally it would be the MV Clansman that makes the transit so it was great to see LOTI in the Sound. However, it has to be acknowledged she is no stranger to the waters of the sound.

Laeving the Gunna Sound – Rum in the dtstance

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Rising and Falling in the Little Minch

Rising and Falling in the Little Minch

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