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 An aged fleet, a global pandemic, adverse weather conditions, technical issues and vessels in turn withdrawn for their annual overhaul and certification – these are just some of the issues.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

After a day of scattered showers, some more like downpours, the evening was a treat. So, father and son, the latter a frequent visitor to Tiree, set out to watch the sunset. The first thought was to head for Vaul but instead we made our way to Caolas. From Caolas you look out across the […]

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Island Life

“It’s just island life.” Sometimes the phrase is a reference to the weather. Sometimes it relates to Tiree’s transport links to the Mainland. And sometimes it is a combination of both. It is November and while parts of the UK have experienced devastating floods, here on Tiree we have enjoyed some truly sunny days. However […]

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May Day Celebrations

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Playing Catch-Up

It is a beautiful but breezy Friday. This morning the MV Clansman cut a striking image. Due to the prevailing conditions she departed slightly early. On Friday mornings the ferry arrives at the Isle of Tiree at 9:35. How this past week has flown by. Today has the appearance of a catch-up day. It is […]

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Return to Normality

It’s a Wednesday, the day of the Barra sailing. In the Summer Timetable the ferry sails from Oban to Coll and Tiree. Then it heads through the Gunna Sound and out into the Little Minch. Its next port of call is Castlebay on the Island of Barra almost three hours away. There is a sense […]

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Barra and Back

Today the weekly Summer Sailing from Tiree to Barra and back commenced. This was one weekly later than originally advertised. And this was due to vessel redeployment issues. The MV Clansman is still in dry dock! Until further notice this service is being operated by the MV Lord of the Isles. In the past she […]

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Barra Bound

CalMac provide a summer only service  to the island of Barra from the Isle of Tiree. It makes the once a week crossing – there and back – on a Wednesday. For the past two weeks this sailing has been cancelled. The reason given was the wind and the waves. This was the Penultimate Passage […]

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Full Steam Ahead

“There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.” In other words, “Will the ‘PS Waverley’ sail as advertised from Tiree?” After last year’s cruise into the Gunna Sound the decision had been made. If possible we would like to sail from Tiree to Oban on board the Waverley. (double-click for larger pictures, mouse-over […]

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Ships and Boats

It was Wednesday afternoon. We might have missed it – but we didn’t. We were all together in our living-room. The cry went up, “Look! Look out the window!” The vessel seemed so close. As a result it appeared rather large. It was the Northern Lighthouse vessel ‘Pharos’. We had an appointment at Heylipol. As […]

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