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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Penultimate

It was our son’s last day on Tiree before returning to his home well south of the Scottish border. He wanted to make the most of the time remaining and chose to go for a walk along the sand at Gott Bay. It was late afternoon, around 4:45pm, just in time to see the MV […]

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Tentative Steps

There is good news, the island is slowly opening up with the return of summer temporary residents, regular holiday visitors and holidaymakers visiting Tiree for the first time.  At present the number of visitors is limited by the reduced passenger capacity of the ferry due to social distancing measures. 

Sheep grazing on the Machair at Caolas

In Scotland there are 5 COVID-19 protection levels (0-4) and Tiree along with most of Scotland’s islands, except the Isle of Skye which is connected to the Mainland by a bridge, is in Level One. Although this allows some more freedom to meet, great care still needs to be observed in order to prevent the introduction of the virus to the island.  Visitors are welcome but it is Scottish Government advice to do 2 Lateral Flow Tests before travelling to the island.

Caolas at the East End of Tiree

Tiree Medical Practice have issued an important message for all visiting the island. The message is available online. Other Covid related information for visitors is available and should be read and acted upon.

Ruaig for great beef

CalMac (Clyde and Hebridean Ferries) in the past month and more have had a whole series of vessels failing. The most notable is the MV Loch Seaforth, which suffered damage to one of her engine bearings and further issues to the engine crankshaft. This led to the MV Isle of Lewis being withdrawn from the Oban Barra sailing and transferred to the Ullapool Stornaway service. All this had a ripple effect across the whole network. The encouraging news is the MV Loch Seaforth has left dry dock (28/05/2021) and providing sea trials are successful she will return to her home waters.

The late arrival of Sunday’s delayed sailing

Thankfully the MV Clansman has continued to serve Coll and Tiree, although the network problems led to some changes to the normal timetable. On a Wednesday the ferry normally includes a sailing to Barra resulting in a later return sailing to Coll and Oban. Latterly this was replicated on a Thursday. Additionally the Sunday sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree and return was delayed until 3:15 (instead of 07:00) to enable the ferry to return from Barra., having sailed there the previous evening.

The MV Clansman in Gott Bay on Sunday

Last Sunday the sailing was further delayed due to operational reasons and then shortly after the MV Clansman had departed Oban Ferry Terminal she had engine problems and there was some question of a possible return to Oban. To the relief of the crew and passengers the issue was resolved and the ferry was able to continue with her sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Magnificent Gott Bay

The sun came out to welcome the arrival of the ferry. It had been a wild and wet morning and early afternoon but the sky was blue and the sea was calm in Gott Bay as the ‘Mighty One’ berthed.\

Spring has finally sprung

On Wednesday evening those looking skyward were treated to a full moon known as a Blood Moon. Although the same could not be said for much of the UK, the full moon was clearly visible in the night sky above Tiree. The red colour was obvious, however the camera ought to have been mounted on its tripod. The full moon has resulted in quite dramatic tide conditions. We are now at that time of the year when on Tiree the hours of darkness are increasingly limited.

This week’s Blood Red Full Moon

Throughout the pandemic the island’s Baptist Church has hosted its ‘Sunday Gathering’ on Zoom and later in the day releasing a recording of the event on YouTube and Facebook. On the first Sounday in June the church will be able to meet once again in An Talla, the island’s community hall. The encouraging news is that although numbers will be restricted due to social distancing measures, congregational singing is permitted as at present the island is in ‘Level One’. Those intending to attend on the Sunday will be required to register their intention to come in order to avoid being disappointed as numbers are restricted.  The intention is to continue to continue to broadcast on Zoom and whenever possible to release a recording later.

Leaping for Joy

For the Baptist Church, these are the first tentative steps. Masks will still be required, hands will be required to be sanitised, and we will have to sit socially distanced – but it will be great to meet together in the same space.

Tiree Baptist Church Welcomes You

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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Amended Timetable

It’s Thursday 27th May 2021 and due to the technical fault affecting MV Loch Seaforth, an amended timetable is in operation. Instead of the normal timetable of a Oban – Coll – Tiree – Coll – Oban sailing an additional leg has been factored in. From Tiree the MV Clansman continued on to Barra.

MV Clansman in the Little Minch

With an appointment for coffee to be kept in the morning it was impossible to observe the progress of the MV Clansman through the Gunna Sound on her way via the Little Minch to Barra. So this afternoon around 4:30 there was the opportunity to watch the return of the ‘Mighty One’. Parking at one of the higher spots on the road between Ruaig and Caolas the ferry could be seen out in the Little Minch.

The MV Clansman about to enter the Gunna Sound

The weather was favourable with only a slight breeze, blue skies and a a calm sea. It is always a pleasure to observe the stately approach of the ‘Mighty One’ through the Gunna Sound. The ‘Sound separates Tiree and Coll and takes its name from an island there.

The MV Clansman with the Isle of Rum as a backdrop.

As the ferry enters the Sound, the Isle of Rum is a great backdrop and on this occasion the outline of Rum was clearly visible.

The MV Clansman enters the Sound

Right on schedule the ferry entered the Sound. There was no fanfare to herald her arrival. There was only the steady thob of her engines.

The MV Clansman approaches the navigation buoy.
The MV Clansman ploughs her way through the waters off the Sound

Before the ferry leaves the Sound, Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular can be seen in the distance.

The MV Clansman leaves the Gunna Sound

As the vessel leaves the Sound and enters the Passage of Tiree, the mountain peaks on Mull including the munro ‘Ben More’ provide the backdrop.

The backdrop is the west coast of the Isle of Mull

Instead of returning directly the pier at Scarinish, the next point of observation was from the sandy shore of Gott Bay.

The MV Clansman enters Gott Bay

The shoreline of Gott Bay gave a completely different view of the ferry, in particular her berthing alongside the pier. For normal the view would be across the pier.

The ‘Mighty One in Gott Bay
The MV Clansman swings to come alongside the pier stern first.
The approach to the pier
Preparing to berth
A yacht with an amazing view of the MV Clansman
A surfer’s kite provides even more colour
Almost there!
A view from the Roadway

Under the favourable conditions the ferry berthed on time alongside Tiree’s pier, Gott Bay, Scarinish. For the past two weeks the MV Clansman has sailed out to Barra on a Wednesday and Thursday. Thankfully, other than have three ferries with a late arrival in Oban, Tiree has been unaffected by the woes of the MV Loch Seaforth.

The MV Clansman

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

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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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!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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