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 An aged fleet, a global pandemic, adverse weather conditions, technical issues and vessels in turn withdrawn for their annual overhaul and certification – these are just some of the issues.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

On Tuesday the 23 June in support of essential lifeline services there were two sailings from the Mainland port of Oban to Tiree. The first was provided by the MV Clansman which operated according to the the normal lifeline timetable. The lifeline tameable has operated throughout the restrictions placed on transport by the Scottish Government […]

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Please – Now Grateful

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Behind Every Cloud

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A Brief Respite

The Met Office have issued a weather warning for the weekend that includes the next named storm to strike the UK. Named ‘Storm Dennis’ it is not expected to be as ‘menacing’ as ‘Storm Ciara’. Or will Dennis prove to be a Menace? Steve Ramsdale, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office said: “Another spell of […]

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Absence Makes . . .

You may have noticed that ‘Life-on-Tiree’ has been strangely silent. It is not that we have abandoned the island or the blog. It is simply that we have been absent. Absence means in most instances no posts. The prolonged silence was down to several factors. We were busy the week before leaving for the Mainland. […]

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Maritime Memories 2018

Maritime Memories 2018 It is that time of year to look back over the past year. Here are a few maritime memories associated with the Isle of Tiree. Maritime matters on the Isle of Tiree. Throughout the year surfers visit our shores. The ferry serves as a lifeline link to the Scottish Mainland. There is […]

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Pier Watch

One day, two sailings and two different ferries. It is not often that this happens on Tiree. It had to be the Tiree Music Festival. It had to be the day after TMF. Leaving Oban at 5:45am the first ferry arrived at 10:00am. The MV Isle of Mull was rostered as she can carry more […]

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A Colourful Spectacle

This morning the bay was a hive of activity. There were all manner of comings and goings. However it was mainly goings – vehicles and passengers. There were several moored yachts. Other craft were causing a wave. And then there was the ferry. Before 8:00am vehicles and foot passengers had begun arriving. Coaches provided a […]

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Ready! Steady!

On your marks! Get ready! Wait for it! Go is at 2:00pm, Saturday 5th May, 2018. The race event is the Tiree 10K and Half-Marathon. It appeared as if external circumstances were conspiring against it. First of all the MV Clansman required extensive unplanned for repairs. And for several months now the ferry service has […]

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