Welcome LOTI

Today the Isle of Tiree welcomed the arrival of ‘LOTI’, otherwise known as the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. For operational reasons Tuesday’s sailing had been cancelled and there is no timetabled sailing on a Wednesday. So the arrival of the vessel was most welcome and especially as the Skipper was a ‘Tiree Man’.

The MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree

Few people appear to refer to the ferry by her full title, most calling her ‘LOTI’. She was not due to visit Tiree until the 24th of January when she replaces the ‘MV Clansman’ while the latter goes for her annual overhaul and inspection or to replace another vessel due the same treatment. The official explanation for the present visit is ‘operational reasons.’ Since Monday evening the ‘MV Clansman’ has not left her berth at Oban Ferry Terminal other than to allow the ‘MV Isle of Lewis’ to use the berth.

LOTI prepares to come alongside the pier.

When a ferry breaks down the status refers to the cancellation or delay as due to ‘technical reasons’. When the cancellation is down to the weather or sea conditions the reason is clear. However in this instance the reason given was ‘operational reasons’ – make of that what you may.

LOTI coming alonhside the pier

Tiree, like many of the Hebridean Islands, is under the Scottish ‘Level Three’ resitrictions. The Mainland and the Isle of Skye are under Scottish ‘Level Four Plus’ restrictions. This week the Island of Barra has reported a few cases of the virus and the Island of Coll, Tiree’s near neighbour, has reported at least one case of the virus. It would be so easy for the virus to arrive on Tiree and perhaps more than at any other time during the pandemic there is a need for vigilance and observation of the Goverment guidance intended to stop the spread of the virus. It is an ever present danger.

The vessel alongside – the stern ropes are secured before the ramp is lowered

In the winter months the ferry traffic is light and this is especially so in the present circumstances. However, with no sailing on Tuesday inbound traffic to Tiree was up, but nothing compared to normal. Any additinal traffic was mainly freight.

Local drivers board the ferry to collect lorries etc

As the day has gone on the weather has improved and LOTI sailed in to Gott Bay with her bow facing blue skies. By the time she departed for Coll and Oban she took the blue skies with her. What a contrast today has been compared to yesterday. Most unusually we never ventured outside yesterday.

The stern ramp raised in preparation for sailing

With the vessel movements complete and foot passengers transferred the stern ramp was raised in preparation for sailing. Although the ferry would visit Coll on its way to Oban to take Coll traffic on board, all the traffic, vehicle and foot passengers, boarding at Tiree was bound for Oban.

Waiting to cast the stern ropes

It would be a pleasant sail to Oban with a flat sea and hardly a breath of wind. It was low tide and with LOTI’s low stern care has to be taken with the stern ropes. Tiree remains snow free but those arriving in Oban today would get quite a shock if they were travelling any distance. Much of the Mainland is under a blanket of snow.

Clear evidence of low tide

By the time LOTI arrives at Oban Ferry Terminal it will be more or less dark. Today’s sailing was 45 minutes later than normal – for operational reasons. ‘LOTI’ her skipper and crew were a welcome sight today. Perhaps the ‘Mighty One’ will be back on duty on Saturday, even if it is only for a few days. Those who serve on the ferries and who work on and at the pier are indeed on the frontline.

A watchful eye from the wings of the bridge

Thank You!

LOTI’s Departure

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LOTI heads out to sea
Haste Ye Back

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He Hit The Mark

Yes! Seán Batty 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.

The sun rising over the Scarinish headland

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.

The Memorial adjacent to Pier Road.

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.

The sun rising on the approach to the memorial

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!

The Dutchman’s Cap, Ben More and the mountain peaks of Mull
Looking across the Passage of Tiree
The moon was with us most of the morning

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.

Reflections at Scarinsh Old Harbour
Few craft remain in the harbour
Reflections mean two for the price of one

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.

The MV Clansman from above the harbour
Harbour View
The MV Clansman above the roof tops
Lighthouse View

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.

Skerryvore

The next stop was at Balephuil to watch the Atlantic roll in relentlessly. It appeared to be sending up a mist.

Balephuil Bay
Loch a’ Phuill and Ben Hough

The next stop was to admire the view across Balemartine and the Passage of Tiree towards Ben More on the Isle of Mull.

Across to Ben More on Mull

This past week flocks of birds numbering in the thosands have been seen in the sky above Tiree.

Island House

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.

Clouds mask the golden globe
The Isle of Rum from Balephetrish
The Isle of Rum brought closer

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.

Looking across Hynish Bay towards Ben Hynish

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.

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Creakin’ and Rattlin’

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.

A Ray of Sunshine – Scarinish

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. 

The car rattlin’ and rollin’

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?

Visibility almost nil in the squall

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.

The viw from our living room window

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.

The wind is over 70mph

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. 

Gott Bay like a boiling, seething cauldron

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.

Spindrift tops the angry sea

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.

Baugh Beach from Crossapol

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.

The waves come powering in at Crossapol

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. 

The seaweed piled high

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.

The Blue Moon

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. 

The Moon plays hide and seek with the scurrying clouds

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.

Spindrift at Balephetrish

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

Friday’s arrival storm bound for 2 days

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 MV Clansman

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.

Not to be repeated on Monday!

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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.

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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

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The Pier Works – A night time view
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Yesterday, Today, Forever

Occasionally a gull would fly past, but the distinct sound of startled geese was a reminder just how many geese are on the island at present. A closer examination of several photographs revealed them feeding in the fields and several skein in the air, particularly over Gott Bay. It was evident that those working on […]

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Absence

On more than one occasion recently we have been asked what has happened to ‘Life on Tiree’.  The explanation is that we were off island for 10 days and it is difficult to write about life on Tiree when you are in another part of the country. An additional factor in the lack of posts is […]

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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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Upon Reflection

‘Upon Reflection” is not so much about some of the picturesque reflections that we have observed over the past week but more a consideration of the two weeks that our son Andrew spent on holiday with us this year. It is a looking back at some of the highlights of the past two weeks. Nine […]

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What Wonderful Weather

You can almost tell the schools are back – the weather is wonderful! What an amazing weekend it has been – almost too calm on occasions. It is a sure sign when the midges make an appearance on the Isle of Tiree. Kenneth McKellar recorded a song about these wee but monstrous beasties. The midges, […]

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