!Cancelled!

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 […]

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A Weather Window

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.

MV Hebrides in the Passage of Tiree

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.

A distant view of the MV Hebrides

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.

MV Hebrides against a hazy view of Ben More

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.

MV Hebrides in Gott Bay

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.

MV Hebrides through the linkspan

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.

MV Hebrides approaching the pier

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

MV Hebrides prepares to berth

MV Hebrides
Coming alongside
Bow to the Roundhead
Midship and bow lines thrown
Securing the midship rope
Bow Ropes under tension
Brining the stern alongside

A Welcome Appearance

Handling the stern ropes
MV Hebrides ready to lower stern ramp
The view across Gott Bay
The MV Hebides from Ruaig
The view across Soa
Leaaving Gott Bay and Soa behind
MV Hebrides back out in the Passage of Tiree

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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A Welcome Appearance

It’s Saturday and since last Monday Tiree has not had a ferry from the Mainland port of Oban, or for that matter anywhere else. Prior to that there had been no ferry berth since the previous Tuesday. On one occasion the ferry turned back out in the Passage of Tiree without attempting to berth at Tiree. On at least one day in the past week there has been athe normal daily flight from Glasgow Airport. Understandably the cupboard was almost bare. 

The ‘MV Hebrides’ in Gott Bay

The ‘MV Clansman’, the ferry normally deployed on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route, is down in Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification. In here place is the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. However today the ‘MV Hebrides’ made the crossing and she was a welcome sight.  The ‘Lord of the Isles’ has temporarily taken the place of the ‘Hebrides’ on the Uig Triangle.

The View through the link-span

The ‘MV Hebrides’ is the Clyde built sister ship of the ‘MV Clansman’ and both vessels are highly regarded by Skippers, crew and passengers for their suitability for the conditions experienced on the longer Hebridean crossings. Today the ‘MV Hebrides’ lived up to that reputation.

Hold Tight as the ‘MV Hebrides’ prepares to berth

Due to the previous weather disruptions traffic had built up in each of the ports, Oban, Coll and Tiree. Even with two sailings in each direction it is highly unlikely that the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ could have handled the volume and weight of freight traffic. 

Approaching the pier

Departure from Oban was 30 minutes later than the advertised time of 7:15am which meant that  arrival in Tiree was 25 minutes down at 11:30am.  Conditions were far from ideal.  High tide was at 10:57am The wind was from the SE and gusting to 34mph and due to the recent stormy weather there was still a heavy swell running.

Bow and mid-ship lines first

Conditions out in the Passage of Tiree were murky. Both the Treshnish Isles and the Isle of Mull were under a blanket of cloud. It was literally out of the murk that the ‘MV Hebrides’ appeared in Gott Bay.  No matter the grey skies and threatening clouds, she was a welcome sight.  There was no band or bagpipes to mark the occasion, but there could have been such was the pleasure in her appearance.

The bow and mid-ship lines are caught

As usual the ferry had to swing through 180 degrees in order to berth with her stern to the link-span. The bow lines were cast and caught. The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in and placed on the bollards and her stern then brought alongside.  The bow ropes were caught but such was the swell there was a delay in lowering the stern ramp. In fact the ramp was lowered and raised, before being lowered again. All eyes were on the tension being placed on the stern ropes.

The bow and mid-ship ropes hauled in

Finally, with the stern ramp lowered the traffic began to roll off. The sheer volume of freight traffic was almost unbelievable in these days of restricted travel due to the pandemic. However, vital deliveries for  the CO-OP and Bùth a’ Bhaile had arrived.  Such was the amount of stock arriving that the CO-OP would close until about 5:00pm in order to safely stock the shelves.  

The powerful thrusters hard at work

The CalMac Status Page spoke of alterations to the advertised timetable being in support essential lifeline services. It certainly was an essential lifeline today.  The last vehicle to board the vessel  was taking the vet to the Isle of Coll.  It was good to know that the ferry safely berthed at Coll and that the vet did not have to continue on to Oban.

The stern ropes being thrown

A livestock sale had been scheduled for today but earlier in the week it had been cancelled as CalMac could not provide two crossings on the day.  Apart from anything else there would have been no room for the additional vehicles necessary for the transportation of the livestock.

An ANXIOUS Wait

The ramp ramp was raised, the vessel secured and the ropes released. The MV Hebrides made her way out to sea bound for Coll and Oban. After her arrival in Oban the intention had been for the MV Hebrides to make a crossing to Castlebay, Barra. However, the sailing was cancelled. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings. Will the MV Hebrides make a return crossing to Coll and Tiree before heading back to the Uig Triangle?

Alongside

Island life can be challenging. How we appreciate the skill and dedication of tho skippers, crew and pier staff. In no way taking away from those normally regarded as key workers, it feels like so many people on the island are key workers. 

A freight lorry rolls off
Last on – first off at Coll – note the registration
Preparing to head out to sea

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Departing Gott Bay

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Hebrides Ushers In Summer

Generally speaking CalMac has only two seasons – Summer and Winter. However this year again it has three seasons for the Isle of Tiree. Like everywhere else in the timetable there are the two seasons but additionally for Tiree there is High Summer. The Summer season commenced on Good Friday (30/03/18). It ought to have […]

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Construct and Destruct

Saturday the 24th of February was the first day of the alternate Winter Timetable. This is the consequence of the MV Clansman being away for its annual overhaul. The replacement vessels cannot match the MV Clansman’s timing. This year the replacement is the MV Hebridean Isles. At least it is meant to be. I set […]

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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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A Hebridean Princess

Under the 2016 Summer Timetable the MV Clansman is the dedicated vessel serving the island communities of Coll and Tiree providing a vital link with the Mainland through the port of Oban.  The MV Hebrides normally serves North Uist and Harris linking both islands with the port of Uig on Skye and the Mainland via […]

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No time to say Goodbye

Following the technical problems with the MV Hebrides at Lochmaddy that resulted in the ferry colliding with nearby pontoons and striking rocks below the waterline the vessel will move to Garvel Docks, Greenock. As a consequence the MV Clansman is being redeployed to the Uig Triangle and the MV Lord of the Isles removed from […]

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Wintry Weather Prevails

Black and Blue would be a perfect description of the weather today. One minute the sky is black, the next it is blue. Add in wintry hail showers. Yesterday stormy weather prevailed throughout the day. Consequently both the ferry and the plane were cancelled. Winds were gusting up to 60mph and visibility was very poor. […]

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Sale Day Sailings

On Saturday the 13th February the MV Hebrides, replacement vessel for the MV Clansman which is presently in dry dock, called twice at Tiree. (Mouse-over for captions, double-click for larger pictures) The first sailing arrived Tiree 9:17 and departed 9.44 The majority of the traffic was commercial vehicles. However there were also many foot passengers. […]

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