Affinity

Our oldest son has an affinity with Scotland and enjoys his regular visits to Tiree.  Of our four children he alone was born in Scotland while we were living and working in Ayrshire. His love of Scotland and Tiree runs deeper than simply the fact of being born here.

Kenavara from the Maze

It was through Andrew that we were introduced to the Isle of Tiree. In August 2011 the three of us walked the Rob Roy Way from Drymen to Pitlochry. The following week we were based at Bunree by the Corran Ferry about 10 miles from Fort Willian. It was at his suggestion that on the Thursday we make an early start in order to catch the 8:00am ferry to Tiree as it was possible to spend the afternoon on the island. Back then it was one of the excursions advertised by CalMac and it included lunch at the Scarinish Hotel and a tour of the island. The experience most certainly had unforeseen consequences.

Balinoe Beach Approach

The following year we had our sights on walking the West Highland Way but for a variety of reasons this was not possible. Instead, we enjoyed a week on Tiree and a week on Skye. One year later in 2013, again in August, we moved to the Isle of Tiree.  Andrew helped with the removal.

Ben More and Distant Peaks from Traigh Crionaig (Tiree)

In mid July this year daughter ‘number one’ came to visit us along with her husband. We travelled back with them to their home in Oxfordshire and spent just over two weeks there. During that time we celebrated our other daughter’s 40th as well as having a short break in the historic market town of Stratford Upon Avon.   We then travelled north with Andrew to Tiree.

Wild Flowers with Distant Outer Hebrides from track to Ben Hough

There was to be no relief from the heat we had experienced while staying in Oxfordshire. Although not quite as intense, our first week back on Tiree was almost unbelievable. Our second week back has for the most part been bright and more suitable for walking.  It has been most enjoyable getting out together.

Loch Riaghain

In addition to our daily walks around Scarinish, we enjoyed the walk from Gott to the Ringing Stone. Along with much of Scotland, the West Coast of Scotland has been unusually dry and the Isle of Tiree bears witness to this. The usual vibrant green landscape is tinged with brown. The plus side was the walk from Gott to the Ringing Stone was dry underfoot – in wet conditions the path can be flooded. 

Inlet by the Ringing Stone

Although the path was dry and the lochans lower than normal, there was evidence all around us of just how much of Tiree is covered in water.

The Ringing Stone

Our walk was ‘Coast to Coast’. Thankfully the walk is close to the narrowest point in the island – Tiree is shaped like a lamb chop!

Ringing Stone – Cupmarks clearly seen

A feature of the walk was the sheer number of wild flowers. The Machair may be well past its first bloom, but there is a wealth of beauty all over the island. Ou walks around the island have been a reminder of the second verse of the song by Moira Kerr about Tiree that states, ‘There are so many wild and pretty flowers, To try to name them all would take for hours’.

Bluebells on the Reef by Baugh Beach

Having walked along Baugh Beach, I happened to notice on the edge of the dune on the Reef side, a patch of bluebells. The bluebells were eye catching, but they were not alone.

On a walk along Vaul beach we were struck (not stung) by the number of jelly fish. What interesting patterns were on display.

Gott Bay Moorings

Most evenings we have been taking a walk to the pier around sunset. We have remarked how popular Tiree and Gott Bay in particular has become with those who enjoy yachting and cruising. 

Fishing Boat in Gott Bay

Seals are not unknown by the pier, and each year two visit around this particular time. We started calling them Sammy and Sally, occasionally they have brought along a friend. But you know the old saying ’tow is company, three is a crowd’. We were feeling rather disappointed that they had not made an appearance this year. However, what pleasure we had on Monday when we watched them swimming about. It was so calm once again, that we could hear their breathing.

Sammy or is it Sally?
Sammy and Sally

No matter how strong our son’s ties to the island, the time is fast approaching for his departure. On Thursday he takes his leave as he boards the ‘MV Clansman’ for the sail to Oban. He is already thinking of his next possible visit – half-term perhaps?

Gott by Gott Bay

Having mentioned the ferry, it is encouraging to hear that as from Monday the 9th of August, with the restrictions relating to social distancing relaxed, the ship’s capacity will be more or less back to normal. This will be of particular benefit to foot passengers, especially to those with urgent appointments on the mainland.

MV Clansman in the Gunna Sound

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Loch Riaghain

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Tentative Steps

There is good news, the island is slowly opening up with the return of summer temporary residents, regular holiday visitors and holidaymakers visiting Tiree for the first time.  At present the number of visitors is limited by the reduced passenger capacity of the ferry due to social distancing measures. 

Sheep grazing on the Machair at Caolas

In Scotland there are 5 COVID-19 protection levels (0-4) and Tiree along with most of Scotland’s islands, except the Isle of Skye which is connected to the Mainland by a bridge, is in Level One. Although this allows some more freedom to meet, great care still needs to be observed in order to prevent the introduction of the virus to the island.  Visitors are welcome but it is Scottish Government advice to do 2 Lateral Flow Tests before travelling to the island.

Caolas at the East End of Tiree

Tiree Medical Practice have issued an important message for all visiting the island. The message is available online. Other Covid related information for visitors is available and should be read and acted upon.

Ruaig for great beef

CalMac (Clyde and Hebridean Ferries) in the past month and more have had a whole series of vessels failing. The most notable is the MV Loch Seaforth, which suffered damage to one of her engine bearings and further issues to the engine crankshaft. This led to the MV Isle of Lewis being withdrawn from the Oban Barra sailing and transferred to the Ullapool Stornaway service. All this had a ripple effect across the whole network. The encouraging news is the MV Loch Seaforth has left dry dock (28/05/2021) and providing sea trials are successful she will return to her home waters.

The late arrival of Sunday’s delayed sailing

Thankfully the MV Clansman has continued to serve Coll and Tiree, although the network problems led to some changes to the normal timetable. On a Wednesday the ferry normally includes a sailing to Barra resulting in a later return sailing to Coll and Oban. Latterly this was replicated on a Thursday. Additionally the Sunday sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree and return was delayed until 3:15 (instead of 07:00) to enable the ferry to return from Barra., having sailed there the previous evening.

The MV Clansman in Gott Bay on Sunday

Last Sunday the sailing was further delayed due to operational reasons and then shortly after the MV Clansman had departed Oban Ferry Terminal she had engine problems and there was some question of a possible return to Oban. To the relief of the crew and passengers the issue was resolved and the ferry was able to continue with her sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Magnificent Gott Bay

The sun came out to welcome the arrival of the ferry. It had been a wild and wet morning and early afternoon but the sky was blue and the sea was calm in Gott Bay as the ‘Mighty One’ berthed.\

Spring has finally sprung

On Wednesday evening those looking skyward were treated to a full moon known as a Blood Moon. Although the same could not be said for much of the UK, the full moon was clearly visible in the night sky above Tiree. The red colour was obvious, however the camera ought to have been mounted on its tripod. The full moon has resulted in quite dramatic tide conditions. We are now at that time of the year when on Tiree the hours of darkness are increasingly limited.

This week’s Blood Red Full Moon

Throughout the pandemic the island’s Baptist Church has hosted its ‘Sunday Gathering’ on Zoom and later in the day releasing a recording of the event on YouTube and Facebook. On the first Sounday in June the church will be able to meet once again in An Talla, the island’s community hall. The encouraging news is that although numbers will be restricted due to social distancing measures, congregational singing is permitted as at present the island is in ‘Level One’. Those intending to attend on the Sunday will be required to register their intention to come in order to avoid being disappointed as numbers are restricted.  The intention is to continue to continue to broadcast on Zoom and whenever possible to release a recording later.

Leaping for Joy

For the Baptist Church, these are the first tentative steps. Masks will still be required, hands will be required to be sanitised, and we will have to sit socially distanced – but it will be great to meet together in the same space.

Tiree Baptist Church Welcomes You

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Amended Timetable

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.

MV Clansman in the Little Minch

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 MV Clansman about to enter the Gunna Sound

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.

The MV Clansman with the Isle of Rum as a backdrop.

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.

The MV Clansman enters the Sound

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.

The MV Clansman approaches the navigation buoy.
The MV Clansman ploughs her way through the waters off the Sound

Before the ferry leaves the Sound, Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular can be seen in the distance.

The MV Clansman leaves the Gunna Sound

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 MV Clansman enters 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.

The ‘Mighty One in Gott Bay
The MV Clansman swings to come alongside the pier stern first.
The approach to the pier
Preparing to berth
A yacht with an amazing view of the MV Clansman
A surfer’s kite provides even more colour
Almost there!
A view from the Roadway

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.

The MV Clansman

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Hare! Hare!

Before moving to Tiree I was always understood to be a rabbit and in my relatively long life I have moved around the country. I cannot remember where I came into existence, but I came to live when my present owners when they lived in Oxfordshire. I was given to them as a present, so I guess you can say they adopted me. After Oxfordshire, I spent 10 years with them in the small market town of Wiveliscombe in Somerset. It is almost 8 years since I came to live with them on Tiree.

I came to Tiree thinking I was a rabbit

You may have noticed a cat sitting by my side, I guess it is a church cat. I have a book tucked under my arm, it is a Bible. I have heard some people call it the ‘Good Book’. It is more than just a good read. Far from a rule book, when you get to know the author it transforms your life for the better. I prefer not to wear what they call a ‘dog collar’ but for me this clerical collar is a fixture.

Do you like my whiskers?

As I have said, I have always thought of myself as a rabbit, but now I am not so sure. Rabbits, which build their homes in burrows, could wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape. Perhaps after all I am a hare.

A new outlook on life

Shortly before I moved with my human family to Tiree, I can remember them watching a four part television series called ‘Islands on the Edge’. On one episode there was a female hare that led the males on a merry dance. I have a feeling this particular scene was filmed around Balephuil. Perhaps that’s why my adopted family thought they had to go to Balephuil in an attempt to photograph hares.

I blend in to my Tiree surroundings

Hares are certainly not unknown around Scarinish, but in the past two weeks my adopted family have been excited on more than one occasion to look out the window and watch a hare feeding. Their excitement knew no limits when they spotted two hares. Mr and Mrs? They could not be sure. It was a good thing it was a digital camera they were using – the number of photographs they took. Somehow it has made them take more notice of me, but they seemed to think I needed to go under cover – perhaps they still think of me as a rabbit.

Hare we go again!
Watch me go!
Now there are two of us
Catch me if you can

Today they decided to cut the grass. (They have never ever mowed the lawn.) Perhaps they ought to go on a driving refresher course. They almost ran over a young frog. Just in time it hopped out of the way of the mower. I certainly felt safer tucked under the shrub.

Hares are not the only visitors to my patch. I particular like when feathered friends call, There was a time when the birds were more numerous but since my adopted family have stopped feeding them numbers have dropped off. I have heard them say they don’t want to encourage vermin – furry friends!

A splash of colour

In the past week or so they have renewed their interest in my surroundings. Lettuce and potatoes have been planted in containers as well as flowers. I think they might have been challenged by a colourful display they regularly pass on their daily walk around the township.

A new outlook on life

Rabbit or hare, I certainly enjoy ‘Life on Tiree’.

This is the view from my patch

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Playing Catch-Up

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.

From Scarinish, looking across to the Isle of Mull

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.

A sprinkling of snow around the remains of the Mary Stewart

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.

It’s snowing!

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.

April Showers -Snow Showers!

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.

Blue skies over Gott Bay

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!

I spy a hare outside the window

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.

MV Clansman approaching the pier

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. 

Scarinish Old Harbour – Ready for Business

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.

Just testing and it’s all systems ‘Go!’

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

Sundown by Scarinish Harbour

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.

Scarinsh Harbour at Sunset

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Goodnight
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CANT — CAN

Watching the MV Clansman berth at the pier in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree, I could not help thinking of a play words. As she turned in the bay in order to berth with her stern to the linkspan thee was a fair degree of CANT. The Southerly wind was gusting up to 41mph and there was a warning issued the previous day that the Oban, Coll, Tiree service was liable to disurption or cancellation at short notice.

CANT

Would she manage ro berth or not? “She can’t!” or Oh! Yes she CAN!” This was the Mighty One after all. In fact although those standing on the roundhead faced challenging conditions the lines were thrown, caught and the ropes hauled and secured. With her bow across the roundhead and the ropes in place she employed her powerful thrusters to bring her stern in towards the pier. With the bow ropes secured the ramp was lowered.

CAN! – The MV Clansman alongside the pier

With the conditions as they were there was no hanging around. As soon as the traffic movements were carried out and the few foot passengers safely on board the ramp was raised and the vessel prepared to head back out to sea.

WAITING FOR INSTRUCTIONS

A WATCHFUL PRESENCE ON THE BRIDGE

Preparing to head out to sea

POWER TO THE PROPELLORS

THRUSTING OFF FROM THE PIER

Bow Plunging into the Waves

Was there any doubt the ‘Mighty One’ would successfully berth? “Can’t – Oh! Yes she CAN!” What a picture as she headed out of the bay. There was to be no second stop at Coll. It was straight back to Oban today.

CAN

CAN

CAN

This is ‘Life on Tiree’ at the pier.

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A Welcome Return

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. 

Barely discernable the ‘MV Clansman’

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.

A fishing boat dipping in and out of the fog

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.

Arriving in Gott Bay and coming outof the murk

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.

The MV Clansman preparing to berth

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.

The MV Clansman in front of the renovated old pier

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.

Well known faces

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.

Midship and bow ropes being hauled in

Welcome home.

The ramp lowered and local drivers board the car deck

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

MV Clansman – A Welcome Return

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Calm Crossapol

On Wednesday afternoon we had good reason to go to Baugh and so we took the opportunity to park at Crossapol and have a walk along Baugh beach. The forecast for the day was for cloudy conditions and it has been more less accurate. It was a calm afternoon thus the title ‘Calm Crossapol’.

A rocky window on a portion of the beach

Unlike the Island of Coll, on Tiree there is no long drive to reach a beach. On Tiree in many places you can just step out of your car and onto the sand. ‘Balmy Baugh Beach’ sounds great but there is no way that description would suit the beach today. However, it was certainly mild.

Quietly reflecting

Baugh beach has rocky bookends, but the beach itself is composed from Tiree’s famous white shell sand. This afternoon it was low tide and the sense of expanse is enhanced – not that it needs enhancing.

Looking from Crossapol to Baugh

The waters around the island are shallow and the beach itself is gently sloping – the slope being almost imperceptible.

Oyeter Catchers

Oyster Catchers (apparently misnamed) love Tiree and most people on Tiree love oyster catchers. In fact Tiree’s St Ayles Skiff is named ‘An Gille-Brìghde’. For those who do not have the Gaelic it means ‘The Oyster Catcher’. And the colours of this popular Tiree bird are reflected in the paintwork.

Gulls making the most of the calm conditions

Tiree has a resident RSPB Officer and for those with a love of bird life Tiree has much to offer. Migratory birds often use Tiree as a convenient stopping off point. Sitting out in the Atlantic birds that have been blown off course sometimes make landfall on the island.

They call this calm condions

This afternoon the breaking waves were not deafening. Often it can sound as if an express train is hurtling along the beach. It is not an unplesant sound but it can be incessant.

CALM CONDITIONS

CALM CONDITIONS

Although it was a calm afternoon the waves kept breaking. It was fascinating watching the display and this made you wonder what it might be like with a gale force south easterly wind.

Looking towards an invisible Ben Hynish

Turning round to walk back towards the car how different it was. Ben Hynish was under a blanket of dark grey cloud. This was a black and white world.

A grey world

The oyster catchers with their black and white plumage were on what was now agrey beach and only their orange bills gave a hint of colour.

The black and white theme continues

As we continued back towards the car the ominous grey clouds dominated the land and seascape. It was like being in another world. Yet. . . .

The Long Dune protecting the Reef

A glance backward – east along the beach – everything was very different. Blue predominated and as a result the long dune was reflected in the thin layer of water slowly draining towards the tide’s edge.

Nothing Ropey about Baugh Beach

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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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Tantalisingly Close

There seems to be something about Thursdays at present.  Once again on a Thursday the ferry failed to berth at Tiree. The vessel came alongside the pier, the bow ropes were thrown and caught. However, before the stern ropes were even thrown the bow ropes were released and the ferry headed back out to sea.

MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay

For those on board they were tantalisingly close. They were not just within sight of Tiree and the pier, the ferry was actually alongside the pier before the decision was made by the skipper to cancel the attempt to berth and head back to the Mainland port of Oban.

Swell Conditions

The status update issued by CalMac at 05:30am warned that due to adverse weather, there would only be one stop at Coll with the vessel operating to an amended timetable. In the event the vessel failed to berth at Coll.

Hopeful

Before leaving home to observe the ferry a further update had been issued stating that the vessel was unable to berth at Coll at 09:55 due to heavy swell. 

Through the Linkspan

With the MV Clansman replacing the MV Hebrides, which is down in Birkenhead for her annual overhaul and certification, the ferry relieving on the Oban, Coll and Tiree route is the MV Lord of the Isles {LOTI}. Whether or not the MV Clansman would have successfully berthed is an unknown.

So far – So good!

It was through breaking swell that the MV Lord of the Isles could be observed entering Gott Bay from the Passage of Tiree. She progressed  towards the pier and prepared to berth with her stern to the linkspan.

Still hopeful

For a brief moment the atmosphere was tense as it appeared that LOTI was not even going to attempt to berth.  However, she then slowly proceeded to come in stern first.

Slowly Progressing astern first

Although successfully coming alongside and the bow ropes being caught, the stern was never secured.  The whole operation took around 10 tense minutes. For those on board there was nothing else but a return to Oban.

Almost Alongside!

There is no sailing to Coll or Tiree under the Winter Timetable. The next crossing is 6:15am on Saturday.  The big question is will there be room on either sailing on Saturday?

Bow ropes secured

The MV Lord of Isles makes two crossings to Tiree due to limits placed on her. This was made even worse today.  Those planning to travel to Tiree by ferry had been advised – Due to shipment of lifeline supplies, passenger space will be very limited so any passengers looking to travel are highly advised to book in advance.  No doubt heavy goods vehicles are already booked on Saturday’ sailing(s) so it may prove difficult for those unable to land today to be accommodated on Saturday.

A vain attempt to berth

Whether your destination was Coll or Tiree those  making the journey today will have spent almost 8 hours on board by the time the vessel berths in Oban.  There is the prospect of spending another 2 nights in Oban, that is providing they can be accommodated on either of  Saturday’s sailings.

Sadly NOT Today

Those unable to board at either or Coll or Tiree today have faced similar prospects, but al least they did not have to spend almost 8 hours on the ferry. It looks like the CO-OP will be busy on Saturday afternoon.  

Under Way

 Life is uncertain whether you live on the Mainland or an island.  Here on the Isle of Tiree we are simply reminded of this fact in dramatic fashion. 

Heading Back out to sea

The is ’Life on Tiree’.

Oban Bound
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