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