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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Before the ferry leaves the Sound, Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular can be seen in the distance.
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 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.
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.
Life on Tiree has literally been that for the past five months. Our last visit to the Mainland was In early December 2020 when we had to visit Oban for hospital and dental appointments Fully vaccinated and after allowing more than the required three weeks for immunity to be built up, we set out last […]
It feels as if ‘Life on Tiree’ is playing catch-up. I have been reminded and I am conscious that is quite some time since there has been a post. Life has just been busy in one or another.
For a start as a church family we have been unable to meet together as normal in An Talla due to the Covid restrictions. We do meet, it just has to be online at present and this involves a different set of skills and ways of communicating and sharing. However, it is such an encouragement to share together in our Sunday Gatherings in the presence of our living Lord – Jesus.
We both enjoy walking and some weeks the weather has been against us, but whenever possible we get out. For much of the time our walks have been close to home, but throughout lockdown we have appreciated the freedom we enjoy on the island. At times we hardly met anyone, so social distancing was not a big issue.
A week into April and the daffodils were in bloom, yet at the same time we had snow showers. Thankfully it was only showers, unlike the experience on the Mainland. There have been cold northerly winds but frost is rare on the island, due to its position in the Gulf Stream which washes our shores.
This past week we have had almost wall to wall sunshine. Blue skies have been the order of the day and the sea that surrounds the island turns the most amazing shades of blue.
Whether or not it is the weather, but our daily walks are taking much longer. It is not so much that we are walking further, it is we are meeting more people and passing the time of day – naturally socially distanced!
Rabbits would wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape, but as hares do not live in burrows they are acceptable. Unlike much of the Mainland they are not a rarity. We still say, “Look over there – there’s a hare!” It is a special treat when observe one out of our window.
For some people Monday’s relaxation of some of the Covid restrictions that will lead to the opening up of the island is a cause for concern. For other people the easing of some of the restrictions is most welcome, especially for those dependent on visitors for much of their income.
Tiree Sea Tours has been preparing for the season and both of their boats are in the water. In fact they have given them some exercise in preparation for the start of their trips. Surely a trip to see the Puffins on Lunga is a must.
Tiree welcomes visitors. If visiting please respect our landscape, culture and community. Follow the guidance regarding testing before travelling to the island. We want to remain Covid free and safe. When on the island follow the guidance regarding visiting the shops. You will find helpful information at TIREE COVID-19
Monday sees the start of the summer timetable for the ferry. Capacity is still restricted by social distancing measures, so make sure you book. Perhaps you never know, we meet you while out on one of our walks.
In sharp contrast with the day before, the weather report stated that Tiree was enveloped in dense fog. Although it was not a pea-souper, visibility was greatly reduced. As a consequence of the poor visibility the daily flight from and to Glasgow was cancelled.
On the way down to the pier I could hear what sounded like a ship’s horn. A fishing boat was dipping in and out of the fog and this was probably one reason for the sounding of the ship’s horn.
Yesterday morning the MV Hebrides took over the sailings on the Uig Triangle to Tarbert (Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist). After an early morning crossing from Tarbert to Uig the MV Clansman proceeded to Castlebay on Barra. From there she sailed to Oban. She was in place to be deployed on the 7.15am Thursday sailing to Coll and Tiree.
From Tiree’s pier the Passage of Tiree was shrouded in fog and it was out of the murk that the MV Clansman made her welcome return. She was well into Gott Bay before the outline of the ferry could be discerned. It was even further into the bay before she could clearly be seen.
With almost no wind and no swell the MV Clansman enjoyed calm conditions for her return to Tiree. In her extended absence the MV Lord of the Isles covered most of the crossings, although on two consecutive crossings the MV Isle of Mull made an appearance. The latter was down to technical difficulties elsewhere on the network. The MV Isle Lewis which normally operates between Castlebay (Barra) and Oban is berthed in Stornoway (Lewis) with what has been reported as thruster problems.
In line with Covid restrictions both traffic to and from the Mainland was reassuringly mainly commercial vehicles. It was good to see, even from a distance, well known faces among the crew.
The equinox in March and the month of April can still bring with them stormy conditions so it is reassuring to have the ‘Mighty One’ back on duty.
It is a matter of the correct spelling. Should it be ‘Sail’ or ‘Sale’. On Tiree today both would be acceptable. You may be wondering, ‘How come?’
The ‘MV Clansman’ made her first appearance in Tiree today since her overhaul and certification down in Liverpool. In fact she only arrived in Oban Ferry Terminal at 5:17am having departed Liverpool the previous day. At 6:24am she departed Oban bound for Coll and Tiree. And what a beautiful morning to make the crossing. She brought the sunshine with her.
In her absence the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ took over the route. However due to the sheer number of weather related cancellations the ‘MV Hebrides’ was taken off her normal route, the Uig Triangle, and she covered two crossings to Coll and Tiree, but a third had to be cancelled due to the weather. In the meantime the ‘MV Lord of the Isle’s went north to cover the Uig – Lochmaddy (North Uist) sailings.
Today, Thursday, it is a One Day Sail with two crossings. The ‘MV Hebrides’ is at present berthed at Brodick on the Isle of Arran and is no doubt waiting for dry docking on the Clyde. Tomorrow Coll and Tiree do not have a timetable sailing and by Saturday the ‘MV Clansman’ will no doubt be relieving on the Uig Triangle. So it is literally a ‘One Day Sail’.
Although departing Oban about 10 minutes down on the advertised time (6:15am) the ‘Clansman’ arrived in Tiree at 10:01am. Externally she looked fresh and clean as she prepared to berth. It was a beautiful sunny morning with blue sky over the island.
The reason for the two crossings is the other ‘One Day Sale’. It was held at the Tiree Rural Centre observing the appropriate covid19 guidance. The sale of cattle of all classes was due to be held last Saturday but had been postponed due to the weather.
The cattle trucks are always a colourful sight as they progress up the pier and then head for the Rural Centre at Crossapol. Later in the day they will return in time to catch the second sailing of the day which is specifically put on for their benefit.
The Clansman had an advertised arrival time in Oban of 2:25pm however according to Marine Traffic she berthed at 2:07. Her departure for Tiree was 2;45pm. The second crossing was a Tiree only sailing.
As the sun was setting the traffic began to arrive for the evning sailing direct to Oban. Inbound to Tiree the traffic was light. Included in the outbound traffic were three livesstock trucks, a tractor and cattle trailer and articulated lorries from the two major haulage contractors on the island. The foot passengers were mainly those who had been involved in the cattle sale.
Unlike previous days the sea was calm and the berthing straight forward. With it still being February the pier lights were on and this added to the overall picture.
As the vessel entered the Bay much of the sky surrounding the island was a shade of purple or pink. By the time the vessel was opposite the pier the sky was much darker. It was great to have the ‘Mighty One’ back, even if it was only for a day.
The moon had risen much earlier, even before sunset and added to the sense of theatre. This evening’s crossing was to be by moonlight. Whether or not the passengers on board would appreciate that fact was immaterial.
Although it had been mainly a bright day with aonly an occasional shower by the time the ferry arrived there was a real nip to the air. Even without a stiff breeze it was penetrating. The coat had to be zipped up and the hood affording proteection to the head.
Sailings under the cover of darkness are rare on Tiree and are generally at the time of livestock sales. Perhaps even more than in daylight the cattle trucks add to the colour of the occasion.
With it being a direct sailing to Oban, with no stop at Coll, it should not be too late an arrival in the town. Still by the time the trucks both cattle and those of the local haulage expertds, it will have been a long day.
It might just have been for one day but it was great to see the ‘Mighty One’ back on duty and serving the islands of Coll and Tiree. All we can say is, “Haste ye back! We miss you when you are not here.”
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 […]
Life on Tiree occasionally demands visiting the Mainland. Although we have an excellent Medical Practice there is no hospital or out-patient department. Thus, the first of December saw us visiting Oban for an out-patient appointment. Since the covid restrictions came into place the dentist has not been to the island and so we we were grateful to be given an emergency appointment with the dentist in Oban.
Our appointments were on a Thursday and with no ferry on a Wednesday in the Winter we had to leave Tiree on the Tuesday. On the day of our appointment we woke up to falling snow. At sea level the snow did not lie but the higher you went in the town the more it lay. Both doctor and dentist apologised for running late due to the problems getting into work. With no ferry on a Friday to Tiree our visit to Oban was like a mini-break. We were not complaining as our extended stay enabled us to do some mainland shopping and to fit in a much needed visit to the hairdresser.
In our absence Tiree experienced wild weather on the Friday with winds gusting around the 60mph mark. Thankfully by Saturday the wind had dropped and we had a smooth crossing. With the ferry departing at 7:15am, it was an early rise for us. It felt even earlier due to the fact that we left under the cover of darkness. Sunrise was considerably later when we were well up the Sound of Mull. When we passed Ardamurchan lighthouse the light was clearly visible..
At this time of the year the ferry can almost feel like an extension of island life. Not only are the crew so friendly, you are travelling mainly with other island residents. We were impressed by the service, especially taking into account the various precautions to help make the ferry a covid safe environment.
Since our arrival home the weather has been settled. Saturday was pleasant. Sunday was a delight with a colourful sunrise, blue skies, and an attractive sunset. And Monday began with striking a sunrise. It is crisp and calm.
A walk at sundown on Sunday was so uplifting as we took advantage of the settled weather. Blue skies gave way to reds, oranges and blues. There is no doubt! Much as it is good to go away it is even better to return home. Yes! Home is best.
Today, Monday we left our home when it was still dark in order to do the weekly shop. We were slightly later the normal arriving at the CO-OP at 8:00am. While Mrs ‘Life on-Tiree’ did the shopping I went to post a letter and walked back to the shop via the harbour at Scarinish.
It was one of these mornings you could not stop yourself wanting to admire the rising sun. Enjoy!
It was only when we returned home that the sun rose above the horizon around 8:45am.
Today was a ray of sunshine in what otherwise has been a rather dull grey week. Thus far on the Isle of Tiree it has been a very wet Autumn, and this past week has been no exception. Today, Friday, has been in stark contrst to the previous day.
The United Auction’s Annual Cattle Sale was meant to be held last Saturday (24th October) at Tiree Rural Centre. However, due to the weather the sale had to be posponed until today. After a wild week of weather, this morning dawned bright and the sound of cattle bellowing provided the dawn chorus.
With the clocks going back to GMT last weekend there was a noticeable difference when we went shopping this morning just after 7:10am. Instead of pitch darkness there was light. Due to the Cattle Sale the ferry had departed Oban at 5:30am instead of the more usual time of 7:15am and was timetabled to arrive at Tiree at 8:50am
Yesterday, it was a case of trying to find shelter from the rain as the ferry sat alongside the pier. Today it was a pleasure watching the vessel berth and depart. Although there were some clouds for the most part of the day the sky was an uplifting shade of blue.
Cattle floats arriving for the Cattle Sale
We waited until the ferry headed out to sea on its way back to Oban before continuing with our morning constitutional. With this an addition sailing (there is not normally a Friday sailing in the Winter Timetable) the ferry did not visit Coll either inbound to Tiree or outbound to Oban.
Our walk took us over the Machair towards Scarinish old harbour. The beach next to the harbour was piled hight with seaweed, evidence of the recent sormy weather. The swell on Wednesday was spectacular and this no doubt contributed to the seaweed strewn beaches.
The sound of cattle bellowing coninued throughout the day. It was most likely due the separation of cows and calves. Wivth the exception of one short, sharp shower, it remained sunny throughout the day. An update confirmed what farmers had feared, Saturday’s sailing(s) had been cancelled due to the forecast of winds gusting up tp 62mph.
The livestock ferry had been timetabled to depart Tiree at 5:50pm but an update advised that this would be delayed until 6:20pm ‘to allow for the loading of livestock’. The ferry’s arrival coincided with the full moon rising over the Passage of Tiree.
On board the fery were another two livestock floats. Due to the cancellation of Saturday’s sailing(s) the drivers would have an extended stay on Tiree. In fact with winds forecast to gust to 62mph on Sunday their stay could be extended until Monday morning.
The marshalling lanes by the Pier Office became a hive of activity. It appeared that there was a problem with the ‘tractor’ of one of the articulated lorries that had just arrived off the ferry. Under the cover of darkness a swap of ‘tractors’ took place with one from the departing floats.
As well as the livestock floats a few vehicles managed to escape before Saturdays’ storm. Otherwise those booked on Saturday’s sailing will most likely be here until Monday morning, provided there is room for them.
With all the traffic having gone down the pier I was able to make my way down the pier approach. I arrived just as the stern ramp ws being raised in readiness for heading out to sea. During the pandemic I have not often ventured down the pier, but I made an exception this evening.
The sun came out to welcome the ‘MV Clansman’ this morning after yesterday’s rather damp grey arrival. This evening the moon cast its silvery beam over the waters of Gott Bay and the Passage of Tiree.
When the ropes were released the ‘Mighty One’ set sail into the dark, yet in reality she sailed under the light of the silvery moon.
No doubt tomorrow morning the waves will be crashing over the pier and its approach as the winds are forecast to gust up to 62mph.
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.