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

Read more "A Welcome Appearance"

Home is Best

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. 

Oban celebrates St Andrew’s Day

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. 

The MV Clansman with a snowy backdrop

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..

Sunrise over the Sound of Mull

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.

Home Safe and Sound

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.

Saturday’s Sundown at Scarinish Harbour
Sunday’s Sundown at Scarinish Harbour

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.

The Paps of Jura from Scainish Harbour
Ben More and the Dutchman’s Cap

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.

Leaving home at first light

It was one of these mornings
you could not stop yourself wanting to admire the rising sun.
Enjoy!

Down by the harbour at first light
The Paps of Jura from the harbour
Ben More from the harbour at just before sunup

It was only when we returned home
that the sun rose above the horizon around 8:45am. 

Ben More from Pier Road at Sunrise
Seconds to go until Sunrise

This is Life on Tiree

Sunrise from the Scarinish Headland

Read more "Home is Best"

A Wintry Crossing

The weather forecast for the Isle of Tiree was for hail showers while the forecast for the Mainland town of Oban was for wintry showers. We made the short distance from our home to the pier office in the dry, however as we waited for the ferry to berth the clouds broke. Those who work […]

Read more "A Wintry Crossing"

Return to Sunshine

It is good to go but great to return. The purpose of our going was to attend the Baptist Union of Scotland’s 150th Anniversary Celebrations and Assembly at Motherwell Civic Centre. However, like most islanders you want to make the most of your time on the mainland. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in a suite […]

Read more "Return to Sunshine"

Home Again

‘Life on Tiree’ has been silent for just over a week. You might have been wondering what has happened. The answer is there have been no posts because we have been off island. For part of the time we had been visiting family. Our journey home began in Chester from where we travelled by train to […]

Read more "Home Again"

Oban Bound

With a family member coming to visit our island home we took the opportunity to meet him in Oban. The following is an account of our crossing and arrival told with the help of Adobe Spark Page. Click on the photograph below to read the story told with the help of photographs.

Read more "Oban Bound"

The Best Laid Plans

It was Robert Burns in his poem ‘To a mouse’ who penned the oft quoted words, ‘The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.’ I had in mind to convey something of how busy the island has been in the last seven days. Sadly, in all the busyness of getting ready for a […]

Read more "The Best Laid Plans"

What A Week!

It was a week of wild weather. A week when wind and rain conspired together. A week when ferries and flights were cancelled. It was a week when shop shelves could not be restocked. Some days there was little mail to be delivered. The mail arrives from Glasgow by plane. No plane! No post! It […]

Read more "What A Week!"