Yes! SeánBatty hit the mark. On Friday evening following the late evening Scottish news Seán forecast that Tiree would be the warmest place in Scotland. What a stark contrast with the storms of last weekend. Today, the sun shone from dawn to dusk and the sea was calm.
We have recently fitted new curtains. They are very effective thermal blackout curtains. The only problem is they shut out the light. There is no advance warning of sunrise. So it was a dash out into the garden to admire the sunrise.
It is Saturday the 7th of November and in normal circumstances at 3:00pm there would have been an Act of Remembrance at the Memorial situated just off Pier Road. But this is not a normal year and yet another community landmark has been missed.
In many ways I want the photographs to testify themselves to the amazing November day that we have enjoyed on the Isle of Tiree. The sun was just coming up and yet I had no coat or jacket on when I went to the memorial just after sunrise. Well done Seán Batty!
Later in the morning, probably just before 9:00am, we had a walk around Scarinish taking in the pier and the old Harbour. The winter sun is low in the sky and our shadows were long and the reflections were so bright.
With such a beautiful day I went down to the pier at 11:00am to watch the ‘MV Clansman’ berth. Having watched the traffic roll off I then made my way back up to a vantage point above the old harbour.
This year we have hardly ventured beyond Scarinish, but this afternoon we decided to head out west. Our first stop was at West Hynish where we looked out to Skerryvore Lighthouse, about 12 miles off shore.
The next stop was at Balephuil to watch the Atlantic roll in relentlessly. It appeared to be sending up a mist.
The next stop was to admire the view across Balemartine and the Passage of Tiree towards Ben More on the Isle of Mull.
This past week flocks of birds numbering in the thosands have been seen in the sky above Tiree.
At Island House we drove across the Moor Road towards Cornaig and onto Balephetrish. By this time the sun was begining to drop in the sky as sunset approached.
We then crossed back over the island to Crossapol and on to Baugh. The view in the rear view mirror was inspirational. Then it was home for a welome cup of coffee.
The weather forecast for tomorrow, Sunday, is not for a repeat performace. The clouds that were building up to the west were an indication that we could believe the weather forecasters – at least on this occasion.
Creaklin’ and a Rattlin’ – that about sums it up for this weekend. The rafters creakin’ and moanin’ as the slates on the roof go a rattlin’. Yes! It was Storm Aiden followed by the remains of ex-Hurricane Zeta on Sunday. Didn’t we know it.
Friday had been a ‘Ray of Sunshine’ in what otherwise had been a mainly grey week. On Friday evening the wind began to steadily rise. In the small hours of the night the wind was gusting to at least 66mph and the gusts officially topped out at 74mph at 3:00 in the afternoon. It was not just the gusts, the underlying speed was consistently strong.
Looking out of the window the car was rockin’ and rollin’ as it was buffeted by the wind. Any wheelie bins that were not secured took off, while some strained on their tethers. Would the cranes still be standing on the pier?
At one point in the morning there was a sudden squall. It was not just the intensity of the wind, it was the sheer volume of rain. Anyone driving in the squall would most likely have had to stop. Visibility was almost nil. The last time I remember such rain, was when we were living in Oxfordshire and the conditions led to accidents on the M4 and M40.
After lunch the wind started to ratchet up another notch or two. Just after one electric power went down, on Tiree, Coll and Mull. On the Isle of Mull a line had come down and someone had to climb a pole when the wind was at its worst. There may well have been secondary faults as on Tiree power returned at different times. Our supply returned about 6:30pm but for others it was two hours later.
A visit to the pier revealed a Gott Bay that was like a boiling, seething caldron. There was no sign of any waves breaking high in the air over the pier as is often the case. But don’t be under misapprehension, it was a wild scene with frequent intense showers that soaked you in seconds.
A later visit, about an hour before high tide, revealed a similar picture. The main difference that wind, which had swung round to a westerly direction, was leading to the waves almost over topping the pier. The waves were certainly breaking over it.
We were grateful that there was time in the evening to prepare for the ‘Sunday Gathering’ hosted by Tiree Baptist Church on the Zoom platform. We were even more thankful that we had power when the ‘Gathering’ went out live on Saturday morning. For those unable to Zoom in at that time, a recording is to be found on YouTube with a link from the church’s Facebook page.
It was another noisy night with Creakin’ and Rattlin’. The idea was to sleep, but any time we woke you were conscious just how rough it was outside. Happening to look out the window in the morning, we observed that we had suffered some storm damage. Although at present the house seems to have come though unscathed, our shed had lost several boards.
On Sunday afternoon we thought that we might have a change of scenery. We were thinking about walking but decided against it as the wind was gusting up to 59mph. Instead we went for a short drive in the car. We headed to Crossapol to watch the waves driving in relentlessly and powerfully onto Baugh beach.
From Crossapol we drove to Kenovay and Balephetrish. From the point just before the road drops down to the bay, we could see the spray and spindrift from waves reaching higher than the nearby houses.
There is often seaweed on the beach at the Kenovay end of the bay, but today it was piled high. Evidence, if it was needed, of the stormy conditions in recent days. Shipping may not like the skerries that lie off Tiree, but they afford some protection to the island.
Going back to Saturday evening. Between a gap in the scurrying clouds we could see the full moon. It was called a blue moon and not for the reason you might think. It is the fact that this was the second full moon in the month and not because the moon turned a shade of blue.
Sean Batty, the weather forecaster, stated, ‘The last time we had a full moon on Halloween was back in 2001 – which was also a blue moon – and we won’t see another one until 2039.’ From what he says, to witness a Full Moon on All Hallows evening is a rare occasion.
We don’t know if it was the fact that the Scottish Government told children to stay at home this Halloween or it was the fact that it was a wild evening, but we had no children call at the door. In guidance issued a week ahead of 31 October, people were told guising (going door-to-door in fancy dress) and parties were not encouraged. Instead, people were asked to have safe Halloween celebrations at home
Tomorrow the weather forecast is for calmer conditions. Although there is an alert out for possible disruption or cancellation to Monday’s sailing, the drivers of the remaining floats from Friday’s livestock sale will be hoping that the ferry safely berths. No doubt there will be others in a similar position.
The Creakin’ and Rattlin’ has quietened down a little. Nevertheless, there is something dramatic about such conditions, especially when you have the visibility, no matter how poor, to look out on a seething cauldron.
Today was a ray of sunshine in what otherwise has been a rather dull grey week. Thus far on the Isle of Tiree it has been a very wet Autumn, and this past week has been no exception. Today, Friday, has been in stark contrst to the previous day.
The United Auction’s Annual Cattle Sale was meant to be held last Saturday (24th October) at Tiree Rural Centre. However, due to the weather the sale had to be posponed until today. After a wild week of weather, this morning dawned bright and the sound of cattle bellowing provided the dawn chorus.
With the clocks going back to GMT last weekend there was a noticeable difference when we went shopping this morning just after 7:10am. Instead of pitch darkness there was light. Due to the Cattle Sale the ferry had departed Oban at 5:30am instead of the more usual time of 7:15am and was timetabled to arrive at Tiree at 8:50am
Yesterday, it was a case of trying to find shelter from the rain as the ferry sat alongside the pier. Today it was a pleasure watching the vessel berth and depart. Although there were some clouds for the most part of the day the sky was an uplifting shade of blue.
Cattle floats arriving for the Cattle Sale
We waited until the ferry headed out to sea on its way back to Oban before continuing with our morning constitutional. With this an addition sailing (there is not normally a Friday sailing in the Winter Timetable) the ferry did not visit Coll either inbound to Tiree or outbound to Oban.
Our walk took us over the Machair towards Scarinish old harbour. The beach next to the harbour was piled hight with seaweed, evidence of the recent sormy weather. The swell on Wednesday was spectacular and this no doubt contributed to the seaweed strewn beaches.
The sound of cattle bellowing coninued throughout the day. It was most likely due the separation of cows and calves. Wivth the exception of one short, sharp shower, it remained sunny throughout the day. An update confirmed what farmers had feared, Saturday’s sailing(s) had been cancelled due to the forecast of winds gusting up tp 62mph.
The livestock ferry had been timetabled to depart Tiree at 5:50pm but an update advised that this would be delayed until 6:20pm ‘to allow for the loading of livestock’. The ferry’s arrival coincided with the full moon rising over the Passage of Tiree.
On board the fery were another two livestock floats. Due to the cancellation of Saturday’s sailing(s) the drivers would have an extended stay on Tiree. In fact with winds forecast to gust to 62mph on Sunday their stay could be extended until Monday morning.
The marshalling lanes by the Pier Office became a hive of activity. It appeared that there was a problem with the ‘tractor’ of one of the articulated lorries that had just arrived off the ferry. Under the cover of darkness a swap of ‘tractors’ took place with one from the departing floats.
As well as the livestock floats a few vehicles managed to escape before Saturdays’ storm. Otherwise those booked on Saturday’s sailing will most likely be here until Monday morning, provided there is room for them.
With all the traffic having gone down the pier I was able to make my way down the pier approach. I arrived just as the stern ramp ws being raised in readiness for heading out to sea. During the pandemic I have not often ventured down the pier, but I made an exception this evening.
The sun came out to welcome the ‘MV Clansman’ this morning after yesterday’s rather damp grey arrival. This evening the moon cast its silvery beam over the waters of Gott Bay and the Passage of Tiree.
When the ropes were released the ‘Mighty One’ set sail into the dark, yet in reality she sailed under the light of the silvery moon.
No doubt tomorrow morning the waves will be crashing over the pier and its approach as the winds are forecast to gust up to 62mph.
The Calmac status SMS announced, ‘OBA-CLL-TIR Due to the weekend forecast there will be an additional sailing to the timetable http://www.calm.ac/19 22/10/2020 @ 11:56. This additional sailing left Oban Ferry Terminal on Friday at approximately 1:15pm and sailed directly to Tiree with a time tabled arrival of 4:35pm.
Should I take the camera or not? If I don’t take it I will perhaps regret it. I am so glad to have made the correct decision. Out in the Passage of Tiree the MV Clansman was ploughing through the water and creating an impressive bow wave as she rose and fell. It was rather murky out at sea but on Tiree the sun was making an appearance – until . . .
Shelter had to be sought for all of a sudden a heavy shower broke and visibility was greatly reduced. The MV Clansman literally came out of the murk and through the rainbow.
The shower was a short, sharp shock! However, the rainbow(s) persisted until the MV Clansman berthed alongside the pier. The timing could not have been much better.
As the MV Clansman passed through the end of the Rainbow, at one point, it appeared as if she was burning a new special kind of fuel.
CalMac had given the folllowing piece of advise, OBA-CLL-TIR 23Oct Passengers intending to travel on Saturday and Sunday should consider sailing today due to forecast adverse weekend weather. It was evident that many had followed the advice for both inbound to Tiree and outbound to Coll and Oban the ferry was well loaded.
Due to the weather forecast the decision had made to postpone Saturday’s Cattle sale on the island. In normal cirumstances the cattle sale would mean the ferry making two crossings. Not this Saturday. Calmac stated, ‘The cattle sales for Tiree have been cancelled and the previously amended timetable will no longer apply.’
On Friday evening Saturday and Sundays ferry have not been cancelled. However the wind is steadly rising and the forecast makes a crossing extremely doubleful. Thus the following alert, ‘OBA-CLL-TIR 24/25 Oct Due to adverse weather forecasted, this service is liable to disruption or cancellation at short notice.’
What a pleasure to observe the MV Clansman sail through the raibow as she approached Tiree’s pier. Briefly she sat there under the rainbow until the bow gradually faded away. Time alone will tell if the ‘Mighty One’ will return to Tiree on either Saturday or Sunday. The wind is certainly rising!
The British people have a reputation of talking about the weather. It is a good conversation starter and normally gets a response. Living on an island lying off the West Coast of Scotland you are even more aware of the weather because so much depends on it, much more so than if you were living on the Mainland.
The Isle of Tiree is not flat. It is low lying and sits out in the Atlantic. There is little in the way of shelter, no high mountains and very few trees, consequently a major consideration is the strength of the wind. One of the helpful pieces of advice were were given when we came to live on the island was to be very careful with your car doors when the wind was strong. Injuries are not unknown!
Poor visibility can result in the cancellation of the plane as the pilots have to land by sight. Wind, on the other hand, can result in the cancellation of the ferry, due to the sea conditions. When planning to visit the Mainland it is important to consult the weather forecast in advance.
For several days last week there was very little wind and as a result the sea was unnaturally calm. It was a joy to out walking and with little wind it even felt relatively warm. It must have made conditions easier for those carrying out the on-going works at the pier.
Everything changed on Monday. As predicted it rained for most of the day and several island roads were flooded. The rain continued throughout the night and the wind also got up.
This morning at breakfast we looked out on a restless sea. From our south facing windows we had a clear view of the waves crashing on the rocks that surround the Scarinish headland. It was still pleasurable going for walk. It was just different. It felt like a morning to observe the ferry.
As the ferry turned from the Passage of Tiree (the stretch of Water that separates Tiree from the much larger Island of Mull) into Gott Bay the wind was blowing from the south. So the ferry ran into the bay with the wind behind it. There was little in the way of a bow wave as the ferry made its approach to the pier. What was noticeable were the waves breaking on the shore and the rocks. As they broke the waves sent up spray. It added a touch of drama!
The ferry has to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern towards the linkspan. (The linkspan is like a bridge that links the ferry’s stern ramp to the pier thus enabling vehicles to roll on and off.) As the vessel makes this manoeuvre it can appear as if she is heading straight for the pier. Thankfully the skipper and crew know what they are doing.
Although there was a swell running the ‘MV Clansman’ appeared to have little difficulty in berthing. As usual the first ropes to be cast and caught are the midship and bow ropes. Then the ferry cautiously goes aft and the stern ropes are secured. Only then is the ramp lowered.
The pier feels like the centre of island life for over an hour on the days that the ferry calls. At present it is a hive of activity for much of the time as the work continues on refurbishing the pier. Before lockdown the linkspan was replaced. Then when it was deemed safe to do so work recommenced on refurbishing the old pier. Right now the work on replacing the footway is nearing completion.
On days when the air is still and the sea calm it is easy to forget just how restless the sea can be. This morning was just a gentle reminder that the sea is restless.
‘Life on Tiree’ is a personal reflection of our life on Tiree and for that reason we do not normally advertise or promote. However, just like slogan concerning Glasgow, ‘People Make Tiree’. Yesterday we received an email for a gentleman asking us to covey his appreciation for all the help that he received from so many when he fell off his bike and broke his hip on the 23rd of September. The list of those who came to his aid is extensive and he wants you to accept his thanks.
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