Tantalisingly Close

There seems to be something about Thursdays at present.  Once again on a Thursday the ferry failed to berth at Tiree. The vessel came alongside the pier, the bow ropes were thrown and caught. However, before the stern ropes were even thrown the bow ropes were released and the ferry headed back out to sea.

MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay

For those on board they were tantalisingly close. They were not just within sight of Tiree and the pier, the ferry was actually alongside the pier before the decision was made by the skipper to cancel the attempt to berth and head back to the Mainland port of Oban.

Swell Conditions

The status update issued by CalMac at 05:30am warned that due to adverse weather, there would only be one stop at Coll with the vessel operating to an amended timetable. In the event the vessel failed to berth at Coll.

Hopeful

Before leaving home to observe the ferry a further update had been issued stating that the vessel was unable to berth at Coll at 09:55 due to heavy swell. 

Through the Linkspan

With the MV Clansman replacing the MV Hebrides, which is down in Birkenhead for her annual overhaul and certification, the ferry relieving on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route is the MV Lord of the Isles {LOTI}. Whether or not the MV Clansman would have successfully berthed is an unknown.

So far – So good!

It was through breaking swell that the MV Lord of the Isles could be observed entering Gott Bay from the Passage of Tiree. She progressed  towards the pier and prepared to berth with her stern to the linkspan.

Still hopeful

For a brief moment the atmosphere was tense as it appeared that LOTI was not even going to attempt to berth.  However, she then slowly proceeded to come in stern first.

Slowly Progressing astern first

Although successfully coming alongside and the bow ropes being caught, the stern was never secured.  The whole operation took around 10 tense minutes. For those on board there was nothing else but a return to Oban.

Almost Alongside!

There is no sailing to Coll or Tiree under the Winter Timetable. The next crossing is 6:15am on Saturday.  The big question is will there be room on either sailing on Saturday?

Bow ropes secured

The MV Lord of Isles makes two crossings to Tiree due to limits placed on her. This was made even worse today.  Those planning to travel to Tiree by ferry had been advised – Due to shipment of lifeline supplies, passenger space will be very limited so any passengers looking to travel are highly advised to book in advance.  No doubt heavy goods vehicles are already booked on Saturday’ sailing(s) so it may prove difficult for those unable to land today to be accommodated on Saturday.

A vain attempt to berth

Whether your destination was Coll or Tiree those  making the journey today will have spent almost 8 hours on board by the time the vessel berths in Oban.  There is the prospect of spending another 2 nights in Oban, that is providing they can be accommodated on either of  Saturday’s sailings.

Sadly NOT Today

Those unable to board at either or Coll or Tiree today have faced similar prospects, but al least they did not have to spend almost 8 hours on the ferry. It looks like the CO-OP will be busy on Saturday afternoon.  

Under Way

 Life is uncertain whether you live on the Mainland or an island.  Here on the Isle of Tiree we are simply reminded of this fact in dramatic fashion. 

Heading Back out to sea

The is ’Life on Tiree’.

Oban Bound
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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

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

LOTI heads out to sea
Haste Ye Back

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Tiree and Loti’s Tale

I was originally timetabled to leave Oban on Thursday morning at 7.15am, with an arrival at Scarinish, Isle of Tiree for 11:15am. With adverse weather forecast, it was decided that I would not leave Oban until 1.00pm. At the time the decision was made it was thought I would visit the Island of Coll, but […]

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“Where’s LOTI?”

Not “Where’s Wally?” as in the popular series of books featuring the boy with his distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses. Rather “Where’s LOTI?” featuring the CalMac ferry with its distinctive red funnels, black and white super-structure and lift gear and otherwise known as “MV Lord of the Isles”. The fact is you can […]

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A Rare Visitor

Today, Friday 18th July, sees the start of the Tiree Music Festival, a 3 day event this year.  Festival goers have been arriving on the island over the past 7 days, but the invasion began in earnest on Wednesday with both the MV Clansman and the MV Lord of the Isles making what was a […]

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