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

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LOTI heads out to sea
Haste Ye Back

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A January SUN-Day

Wherever our home has been, Sunday has always been a special day for us as we gathered with the church family to worship God. It is no different here on Tiree, but at present our ‘Sunday Gathering’ has had out of necessity to move online. All of us have agreed that we have missed being together in the one place, nevertheless our online services have had several advantages.  

Sunrise over the Scarinish Headland

The online gathering, especially the live edition, has enabled some people to be part of the gathering, who in more normal circumstances are prevented from being present. The online gathering has also seen the involvement of so many different people with a whole variety of gifts and skills. Later in the day a recording is posted online to further make the gathering accessible. 

Sunrise over the Passage of Tiree – Spot the cargo vessel

A first glance out of the window at first light was indicative of what a glorious day weather wise it was going to be. So after breakfast just as the sun was rising, the opportunity was taken to walk around Scarinish. First of all down by the pier and then later across to the harbour and up to the lighthouse.

Gott Bay, Ruaig and the Rum Cuillin for a backdrop

There was a nip in the air, but it was bright and sunny. With only the merest hint of a breeze, the nip in the air remained that – a nip.  The risen sun caressed both land and sea with its golden touch.

Ben More on the Isle of Mull

How I appreciate the view across the Passage of Tiree to the Treshnish Isles and Ben More on the Isle of Mull.   While Tiree remains snow free it is a pleasure to look across to the snow capped peak of Ben More. It is interesting to observe the snow line.  Some of the snow capped peaks seem lower than Ben More but many have to be higher – it is simply the distance that they are away that makes them appear lower.

Panoramic View of the Rum Cuillin

The Rum Cullin which although distant – beyond the neighbouring Isle of Coll – is snow capped. Beyond the Rum Cullin the snow capped Cullins on the Isle of Skye were clearly visible.

Enjoying the sun’s rays

Asked if I had met anyone on my walk I had to report only the Pier Master, the only other contacts were some members of the resident sheep population in Scarinish.

Scarinish Post Office at the top of the brae

Back home it was time to set up ‘ZOOM’ for the Sunday Gathering. It was a real joy to welcome visitors to Tiree ( via the Sunday Gathering) from Mainland Scotland and England. Unlike in ‘the old days’ at the conclusion of the worship, you cannot serve tea or coffee and  some of the home baking that Tiree is famous for. However, for those who want to, there is the opportunity to meet up in smaller groups for a good chat.

Low Tide at Scarinish Harbour

Daylight hours are few in number, so after lunch, around 3:00pm we headed back out into the sunshine for a walk around the township.  As the sun got lower and lower in the sky not only did we have long shadows, the golden rays worked their magic touch.

A Burning Bush

For the the third of January this really was a ’SUN’-Day. We appreciated the weather, but we also valued the time spent with the church family as we came together to worship the living God.  How uplifting it was to sing (and no one could hear us) the words written by Rend Collective to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Below is a link to the first Sunday Gathering of the New Year. if you care to listen click on the video link.

We look forward to at some point in 2021 getting out and about around the island and not just when we are delivering meals on wheels. It looks like the settled weather will continue for a few more days.

Sunset from Scarinish Farm

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Creakin’ and Rattlin’

Creaklin’ and a Rattlin’ – that about sums it up for this weekend. The rafters creakin’ and moanin’ as the slates on the roof go a rattlin’.  Yes! It was Storm Aiden followed by the remains of ex-Hurricane Zeta on Sunday. Didn’t we know it.

A Ray of Sunshine – Scarinish

Friday had been a ‘Ray of Sunshine in what otherwise had been a mainly grey week. On Friday evening the wind began to steadily rise. In the small hours of the night the wind was gusting to at least 66mph and the gusts officially topped  out at 74mph at 3:00 in the afternoon. It was not just the gusts, the underlying speed was consistently strong. 

The car rattlin’ and rollin’

Looking out of the window the car was rockin’ and rollin’ as it was buffeted by the wind. Any wheelie bins that were not secured took off, while some strained on their tethers. Would the cranes still be standing on the pier?

Visibility almost nil in the squall

At one point in the morning there was a sudden squall. It was not just the intensity of the wind, it was the sheer volume of rain. Anyone driving in the squall would most likely have had to stop. Visibility was almost nil. The last time I remember such rain, was when we were living in Oxfordshire and the conditions led to accidents on the M4 and M40.

The viw from our living room window

After lunch the wind started to ratchet up another notch or two. Just after one electric power went down, on Tiree, Coll and Mull. On the Isle of Mull a line had come down and someone had to climb a pole when the wind was at its worst. There may well have been secondary faults as on Tiree power returned at different times. Our supply returned about 6:30pm but for others it was two hours later.

The wind is over 70mph

A visit to the pier revealed a Gott Bay that was like a boiling, seething caldron. There was no sign of any waves breaking high in the air over the pier as is often the case. But don’t be under misapprehension, it was a wild scene with frequent intense showers that soaked you in seconds. 

Gott Bay like a boiling, seething cauldron

A later visit, about an hour before high tide, revealed a similar picture. The main difference that wind, which had swung round to a westerly direction, was leading to the waves almost over topping the pier. The waves were certainly breaking over it.

Spindrift tops the angry sea

We were grateful that there was time in the evening to prepare for the ‘Sunday Gathering’ hosted by Tiree Baptist Church on the Zoom platform. We were even more thankful that we had power when the ‘Gathering’ went out live on Saturday morning. For those unable to Zoom in at that time, a recording is to be found on YouTube with a link from the church’s Facebook page.

It was another noisy night with Creakin’ and Rattlin’. The idea was to sleep, but any time we woke you were conscious just how rough it was outside.  Happening to look out the window in the morning, we observed that we had suffered some storm damage. Although at present the house seems to have come though unscathed, our shed had lost several boards.

Baugh Beach from Crossapol

On Sunday afternoon we thought that we might have a change of scenery. We were thinking about walking but decided against it as the wind was gusting up to 59mph. Instead we went for a short drive in the car. We headed to Crossapol to watch the waves driving in relentlessly and powerfully onto Baugh beach.

The waves come powering in at Crossapol

From Crossapol we drove to Kenovay and Balephetrish. From the point just before the road drops down to the bay, we could see the spray and spindrift from waves reaching higher than the nearby houses. 

The seaweed piled high

There is often seaweed on the beach at the Kenovay end of the bay, but today it was piled high. Evidence, if it was needed, of the stormy conditions in recent days. Shipping may not like the skerries that lie off Tiree, but they afford some protection to the island.

The Blue Moon

Going back to Saturday evening. Between a gap in the scurrying clouds we could see the full moon. It was called a blue moon and not for the reason you might think. It is the fact that this was the second full moon in the month and not because the moon turned a shade of blue. 

The Moon plays hide and seek with the scurrying clouds

Sean Batty, the weather forecaster, stated, ‘The last time we had a full moon on Halloween was back in 2001 – which was also a blue moon – and we won’t see another one until 2039.’  From what he says, to witness a Full Moon on All Hallows evening is a rare occasion.

Spindrift at Balephetrish

We don’t know if it was the fact that the Scottish Government told children to stay at home this Halloween or it was the fact that it was a wild evening, but we had no children call at the door. In guidance issued a week ahead of 31 October, people were told guising (going door-to-door in fancy dress) and parties were not encouraged. Instead, people were asked to have safe Halloween celebrations at home

Friday’s arrival storm bound for 2 days

Tomorrow the weather forecast is for calmer conditions. Although there is an alert out for possible disruption or cancellation to Monday’s sailing, the drivers of the remaining floats from Friday’s livestock sale will be hoping that the ferry safely berths. No doubt there will be others in a similar position.

The MV Clansman

The Creakin’ and Rattlin’ has quietened down a little. Nevertheless, there is something dramatic about such conditions, especially when you have the visibility, no matter how poor, to look out on a seething cauldron.

Not to be repeated on Monday!

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Absence

On more than one occasion recently we have been asked what has happened to ‘Life on Tiree’.  The explanation is that we were off island for 10 days and it is difficult to write about life on Tiree when you are in another part of the country. An additional factor in the lack of posts is […]

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August Anniversary

The 22nd of August marks the 7th anniversary of our coming to live on the Isle of Tiree. Today it is Saturday, but seven years ago it was a Thursday, Back then on a Thursday it was possible to come to the island for a day because the ferry sailed from Tiree to Barra before […]

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Upon Reflection

‘Upon Reflection” is not so much about some of the picturesque reflections that we have observed over the past week but more a consideration of the two weeks that our son Andrew spent on holiday with us this year. It is a looking back at some of the highlights of the past two weeks. Nine […]

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What Wonderful Weather

You can almost tell the schools are back – the weather is wonderful! What an amazing weekend it has been – almost too calm on occasions. It is a sure sign when the midges make an appearance on the Isle of Tiree. Kenneth McKellar recorded a song about these wee but monstrous beasties. The midges, […]

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East End Eve

After a day of scattered showers, some more like downpours, the evening was a treat. So, father and son, the latter a frequent visitor to Tiree, set out to watch the sunset. The first thought was to head for Vaul but instead we made our way to Caolas. From Caolas you look out across the […]

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The Unexpected

Tuesday the 4th of August was a stormy day, both wet and windy.  The ferry was on an alert of possible disruption and berthing at Coll and Tiree was not guaranteed.  Even with fins (stabilisers) those who travelled to the island on Tuesday certainly knew that they were on board a ship. They were no […]

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Quietly Busy

Later this month we mark the anniversary of our arrival on Tiree. In 2011 we came for a day on a visit; in 2012 we came for a week’s holiday and then in 2013 we came to live on the island. It is strange, but for the first time in the seven years that we […]

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