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 An aged fleet, a global pandemic, adverse weather conditions, technical issues and vessels in turn withdrawn for their annual overhaul and certification – these are just some of the issues.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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!Cancelled!

Not unexpectedly the ‘MV Hebrides’ returned to the Mainland port of Oban without berthing at either Coll or Tiree. CalMac issued a statement at 14:16 stating that, due to adverse weather conditions the MV Hebrides did not berth in either Coll or Tiree and is currently returning back to Oban with an ETA of approximately […]

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A Weather Window

The arrival of the ‘MV Hebrides’ was an opportunity in more than one way. The vessel is a rare visitor to the twin islands of Coll and Tiree. Her normal area of service is the Uig Triangle, sailing between Uig on Skye and Tarbert on Harris – and Uig and Lochmaddy on North Uist. A return visit of the ferry to Tiree was an opportunity not to be miissed.

MV Hebrides in the Passage of Tiree

Today, Monday, was a weather window, in what has been a been a season of storms. As stated in a previous post in the past weeks the island has only had had about one crossing to the Mainland a week. With strong winds forecast an alert has been issued that the ferry will be operating to a revised timetable and importantly stating that berthing in Coll or Tiree is not guaranteed but will be attempted.

A distant view of the MV Hebrides

The forecast is for winds gusting to over 60mph overnight and altough they are expected to drop throughout the morning swell conditions last longer. If the MV Hebrides remains on the route for one more day there is a stronger chance of a berthing. No doubt there will be pressure on CalMac to return the vessel to her normal area of service.

MV Hebrides against a hazy view of Ben More

On Saturday when the ‘MV Hebrides’ berthed the conditions were wintry – wet and windy. Today the contrst could not have beeen more marked. The sky was a welcome shade of blue.

MV Hebrides in Gott Bay

With it being a late afternoon arrival in Tiree (about 4:15) it was not long before the sun began to drop. When the vessel returned to the Passge of Tiree heading for Coll and Oban the eastern sky wass overcast.

MV Hebrides through the linkspan

Having watched the ‘MV Hebrides’ berth we headed for Ruaig to observe the ferry head out to sea. We were able to watch her pass the tidal island of Soa as she headed out into the Pssage of Tiree bound for Coll and Oban.

MV Hebrides approaching the pier

What follows are photographs of the berthing and then the ferry heading out to sea.

MV Hebrides prepares to berth

MV Hebrides
Coming alongside
Bow to the Roundhead
Midship and bow lines thrown
Securing the midship rope
Bow Ropes under tension
Brining the stern alongside

A Welcome Appearance

Handling the stern ropes
MV Hebrides ready to lower stern ramp
The view across Gott Bay
The MV Hebides from Ruaig
The view across Soa
Leaaving Gott Bay and Soa behind
MV Hebrides back out in the Passage of Tiree

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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A Welcome Appearance

It’s Saturday and since last Monday Tiree has not had a ferry from the Mainland port of Oban, or for that matter anywhere else. Prior to that there had been no ferry berth since the previous Tuesday. On one occasion the ferry turned back out in the Passage of Tiree without attempting to berth at Tiree. On at least one day in the past week there has been athe normal daily flight from Glasgow Airport. Understandably the cupboard was almost bare. 

The ‘MV Hebrides’ in Gott Bay

The ‘MV Clansman’, the ferry normally deployed on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route, is down in Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification. In here place is the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. However today the ‘MV Hebrides’ made the crossing and she was a welcome sight.  The ‘Lord of the Isles’ has temporarily taken the place of the ‘Hebrides’ on the Uig Triangle.

The View through the link-span

The ‘MV Hebrides’ is the Clyde built sister ship of the ‘MV Clansman’ and both vessels are highly regarded by Skippers, crew and passengers for their suitability for the conditions experienced on the longer Hebridean crossings. Today the ‘MV Hebrides’ lived up to that reputation.

Hold Tight as the ‘MV Hebrides’ prepares to berth

Due to the previous weather disruptions traffic had built up in each of the ports, Oban, Coll and Tiree. Even with two sailings in each direction it is highly unlikely that the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ could have handled the volume and weight of freight traffic. 

Approaching the pier

Departure from Oban was 30 minutes later than the advertised time of 7:15am which meant that  arrival in Tiree was 25 minutes down at 11:30am.  Conditions were far from ideal.  High tide was at 10:57am The wind was from the SE and gusting to 34mph and due to the recent stormy weather there was still a heavy swell running.

Bow and mid-ship lines first

Conditions out in the Passage of Tiree were murky. Both the Treshnish Isles and the Isle of Mull were under a blanket of cloud. It was literally out of the murk that the ‘MV Hebrides’ appeared in Gott Bay.  No matter the grey skies and threatening clouds, she was a welcome sight.  There was no band or bagpipes to mark the occasion, but there could have been such was the pleasure in her appearance.

The bow and mid-ship lines are caught

As usual the ferry had to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern to the link-span. The bow lines were cast and caught. The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in and placed on the bollards and her stern then brought alongside.  The bow ropes were caught but such was the swell there was a delay in lowering the stern ramp. In fact the ramp was lowered and raised, before being lowered again. All eyes were on the tension being placed on the stern ropes.

The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in

Finally, with the stern ramp lowered the traffic began to roll off. The sheer volume of freight traffic was almost unbelievable in these days of restricted travel due to the pandemic. However, vital deliveries for  the CO-OP and Bùth a’ Bhaile had arrived.  Such was the amount of stock arriving that the CO-OP would close until about 5:00pm in order to safely stock the shelves.  

The powerful thrusters hard at work

The CalMac Status Page spoke of alterations to the advertised timetable being in support essential lifeline services. It certainly was an essential lifeline today.  The last vehicle to board the vessel  was taking the vet to the Isle of Coll.  It was good to know that the ferry safely berthed at Coll and that the vet did not have to continue on to Oban.

The stern ropes being thrown

A livestock sale had been scheduled for today but earlier in the week it had been cancelled as CalMac could not provide two crossings on the day.  Apart from anything else there would have been no room for the additional vehicles necessary for the transportation of the livestock.

An ANXIOUS Wait

The ramp ramp was raised, the vessel secured and the ropes released. The MV Hebrides made her way out to sea bound for Coll and Oban. After her arrival in Oban the intention had been for the MV Hebrides to make a crossing to Castlebay, Barra. However, the sailing was cancelled. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings. Will the MV Hebrides make a return crossing to Coll and Tiree before heading back to the Uig Triangle?

Alongside

Island life can be challenging. How we appreciate the skill and dedication of tho skippers, crew and pier staff. In no way taking away from those normally regarded as key workers, it feels like so many people on the island are key workers. 

A freight lorry rolls off
Last on – first off at Coll – note the registration
Preparing to head out to sea

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Departing Gott Bay

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A Crisp Monday

We have been living on Tiree now for over seven years and it feels that this is one of the most prolonged spells of icy weather. We have it on good authority that the island’s roads in many places were like a skating rink this morning. Tiree’s position out in the Atlantic and the fact that it is low lying means that in the winter the weather is generally much milder than on the Mainland. The other side of the coin is that we are more conscious of the wind.

Meals on Wheels

Todasy as we set out for our morning constitutional we had to be extra careful because of the icy conditions. We did not want slip on the ice and fall and have to visit a hospital in Oban or Glasgow, Hospitals are under enough pressure without us adding to it!

The gulls had an eye on a ready meal

As usual we made our way down to the pier and then back up the road and across the Machair to the old harbour. As we stepped onto the Machair we saw a crofter out feeding the sheep – and the gulls with an eye towards a ready meal.

Looking towards the Isle of Mull

Over the past few days, even when the sky has been blue over Tiree, Ben More on the Isle of Mull has been hidden from view, shrouded by menacing clouds. This mornng the clouds parted suficently to give us a hazy, wintry view of the Munro. Oh! These clouds add something to the view.

The Peak Peeking Through

From our south facing windows we loook out across the Passage of Tiree towards the Paps of Jura. At first light today we had a clear view of the Paps but soon the clouds built up and obscured our view. We don’t have to walk far from our home to look out across the Passage towards Ben More. As we walked across the Machair we caught a glimpse of the peak peeking through the clouds which wrapped around the Munro like a scarf.

The Memorial – A Great Vantage Point

Later after a warming cup of coffee it was time to head across to the Memorial situated off Pier Road. The ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ (LOTI) was just heading out to sea bound for the Isle of Coll and then onto the Ferry terminal at Oban. The Memorial and its surrounds afford a great view across the island and out to sea.

A view of the Lighthouse from the Memorial

Although later in the afternoon the clouds began to build up over Tiree, earlier in the day there was blue sky over the island. The clouds that hid the Paps of Jura and the Rum Cuillins had a fascination all of their own. Only the other day someone remarked to us how dramtic the clouds were – and with all manner of formations.

Thr MV Lord of the Isles

On Saturday we said farewell to the ‘MV Clansman’. It will be several weeks before her return to service. On Sunday she made her way to Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification. On Sunday we welcomed the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ as the relief vessel. Recently she paid a visit to Tiree when the ‘MV Clansman’ had to undergo a deep clean.

A Wintry Setting

In the past 10 months we have rarely ventured far from Scarinish, the crofting township where we live, but each day there appears a freshness to the land and seascape. We may see the same view but often with a different perspective, We are so grateful that we felt the call of God to live on Tiree – and its a great community to belong to.

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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Through The Rainbow

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.

The MV Clansman in the Passage of Tiree

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 . . .

A Double Rainbow as the MV Clasman enters Gott Bay

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.

Out of the murk and through the rsinbow

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.

Still under the rainbow

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.’

The MV Clansman alongside the pier

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 sun sinking in the West – View from the pier as the MV Clansman departed.

This is Life on Tiree

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Restless Sea

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 ‘MV Clansman’ enterring Gott Bay

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!

The ‘MV Clansman’ through the spray

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.

Through the Spray

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.

The ‘MV Clansman’ approaching the pier

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.

The ‘MV Clansman’ preparing to berth

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.

Hauling in the bow ropes

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.

Cautiously the vessel proceeds aft

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.

Underway

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.

A Wee Face Wash

‘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. 

The MV Clansman heading out to sea bound for Coll and Oban

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

The Pier Works – A night time view
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August Anniversary

The 22nd of August marks the 7th anniversary of our coming to live on the Isle of Tiree. Today it is Saturday, but seven years ago it was a Thursday, Back then on a Thursday it was possible to come to the island for a day because the ferry sailed from Tiree to Barra before […]

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Quietly Busy

Later this month we mark the anniversary of our arrival on Tiree. In 2011 we came for a day on a visit; in 2012 we came for a week’s holiday and then in 2013 we came to live on the island. It is strange, but for the first time in the seven years that we […]

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RESPECT

Out of respect for fellow islanders and in accordance with government guidelines our travels around Tiree have been limited. Most of the time we have hardy travelled very far from Scarinish and understandably that includes Scarinish Old Harbour and the Pier at Gott Bay.  Naturally the ferry is a major feature of our ‘Life on […]

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