Gold Ribbon Banner
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Isle of ArranI was determined to sample the Campbeltown ferry run before the three year trial period was up and I made it in late September with just two Ardrossan departures to spare.

So imagine my grief when driving down the coast road from Largs with still a few miles to go, when I spotted my would-be ship Isle of Arran departing Ardrossan and heading out into a distinctly gloomy if not downright stormy Firth of Clyde.

Gathering my wits, I double checked the sailing time – over an hour yet, if my 24 hour-clock arithmetic wasn’t way out. But, I wondered, was she just clearing the harbour temporarily for the Caledonian Isles to come in from Arran on her regular run from Brodick? And thankfully that was the case, Caledonian Isles docked while Isle of Arran hove to amongst the rain squalls and Firth of Clyde chop until she was able to come in again.

In fact, when not on the Campbeltown run, she seemed to be taking turns on the Arran route herself, the run for which she was built back in ’84 until replaced by Caledonian Isles in ’93. She was – I believe the term is - cascaded, moved down the pecking order of routes, ultimately becoming a spare ship, though every year it is obvious how important that role is. For three years of the Campbeltown Ferry trial from the end of April through to the end of September, Isle of Arran has delivered the Ardrossan-Campbeltown route. This year she sailed out from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, way down there on the Mull of Kintyre, on Thursday evening with a day return voyage from Campbeltown on the Friday and a single voyage back to Ardrossan on the Saturday calling at Brodick. On Sunday, there was a return voyage from Ardrossan.

As I thought about it, I realised this run is unique in the UK: a serious ferry link (not just a vehicle shuttle) between two parts of the UK mainland. But it makes much sense given any scrutiny of the geography. There was a regular passenger-cargo link until 1939 and for decades before that a direct Glasgow- Campbeltown ship.

Today’s service means a voyage between Campbeltown and Ardrossan of around 34 miles across the Firth. At Ardrossan it is only another 34 or so miles on good easy roads to Glasgow and there are frequent trains to Glasgow Central for foot passengers. However, to drive to Glasgow from Campbeltown out on the bottom end of Kintyre is a tedious and tortuous 138 miles on ever busier roads, shared with slow and cumbersome articulated trucks, around the top of Lochs Fyne, Long and Lomond. So it is easy to see why the Kintyre community and local businesses are vociferous in their campaign to retain the ferry link and make it permanent.

I was to witness more of this heartfelt support for their ship later, but meanwhile as the choppy waters of the Firth slopped over the Ardrossan breakwaters, the Caledonian Isles was back on her way to Brodick and Isle of Arran and came expertly through the narrow entrance and spun hard to starboard to dock bow on to the link span. She rapidly took aboard 20 vehicles and a 100 passengers, many of them ‘walk on’ having come by train or left their car at Ardrossan. She sailed precisely on time and, after safety instructions, the passengers quickly settled down into the warm comfortable lounges. The friendly staff were ready to serve an excellent range of hearty food served up as the Ayrshire shore receded into the night, Ailsa Craig just visible in the murk to the west as storm clouds rolled over us. The ship, howeve, was very steady, apparently sheltered by the bulk of Arran and the Kintyre peninsula in her path.

Isle of Arran Thirty minutes into the voyage and a passing shadowy presence became apparent in the disappearing evening light and I realised it was the Troon – Larne P&O fast-ferry Express on her way to Larne. I reckoned she might have a lively time of it once further out toward the North Channel. She herself is in her last season on this run.

As the Ayrshire shore receded the Pladda light at the tip of Arran and the Davaar Island light ahead were only intermittently visible between dense rain squalls and low cloud which blocked out the moon. Going on deck was an expedition needing arctic protective gear. It occurred to me that this two and a half hour voyage in comfort was in place of what that night would have been a horrific and potentially dangerous over 3 hour drive from Glasgow which included mountain passes.

Oblivious to the bleak night outside, the well fed and refreshed passengers in the lounges were a chatty and interesting mix with a variety of reasons for making the voyage. A couple with a camper van had purposely taken ship to start at Kintyre on their three week exploration up the West Coast of Scotland, heading for Skye and Ullapool after a few days. Another large group had taken holiday accommodation near Campbeltown as they had done for three years, expressly because the ferry avoided that long diffi cult drive with travel sick children in uncomfortable overloaded cars. A walk-on trio of mother and two children from Glasgow were visiting parents in Campbeltown, her home town, for the last weekend before the ferry fi nished for the year.

More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - November 2015 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • RNLI to Cut 135 Jobs +

    RNLI TO CUT 135 JOBS AS GREATER ‘EFFICIENCY NEEDS FEWER PEOPLE’ Read More
  • Twenty Years of Cruise Ships +

    Twenty Years of Cruise Ships ON AUG 30, the Port of Tyne celebrated 20 years of cruise ship travel. Read More
  • Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel +

    Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel ON THE afternoon of Aug 30, a fishing vessel reported to the Coastguard that she had lost power near Peterhead, Read More
  • RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea From us and Fly to Their Base From Quayside +

    RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea THE Atlantic Container Line (ACL) won a contract from Boeing Defence UK to transport seven Chinook helicopters across the Atlantic Read More
  • Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory +

    Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory THE NEW Invergordon Shannon class lifeboat which enters service next spring will feature the names of thousands of people in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane +

    Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane The Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) officially resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel following Hurricane Dorian. Read More
  • Boost for Area's Exports and Jobs Forecast +

    Port of Morrow in Oregon THE EXTENSION of the barge service at the port of Morrow, in Oregon, is one of only three projects on Read More
  • USCG Cutter and Two Life Boats Ensure Damaged Vessel Reached Post +

    USCG Life Boat In a four-day operation off the coast of Oregon, three separate vessels of the US Coast Guard towed a 50ft Read More
  • Operation to Salvage Three Tugs +

    Tug Salvage THE US Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the sinking of three vessels in the Illinois River near Hardin, Read More
  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over +

    Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over THE JAPANESE shipbuilder Japan Marine United has delivered what it described as “a next-generation energy-saving bulk carrier” to Nissen Kaiun, Read More
  • Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations +

    Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations THE Japanese shipping line, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), have taken delivery of the coal carrier Corona Citrus, 88,000dwt, built Read More
  • Network Demands Recovery of the Second VDR +

    Stellar Daisy A new search has been demanded to recover the second Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) from the wreck of the South Read More
  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

    MSC Gulsun THE SWISS-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has taken delivery of one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Gulsun, Read More
  • The Last New Magnolia Ship in Series +

    The Last New Magnolia Ship THE Singapore-based container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has taken delivery of the 14,000 teu capacity ONE Cygnus, 138,611dwt, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships +

    US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships American News The expansion of the US Navy’s amphibious capability continues with the announcement that General Dynamics NASSCO has received Read More
  • RFA Tideforce is Welcomed into Service +

    RFA Tideforce BRITISH News THE FOURTH and last of the new Tide class tankers, RFA Tideforce, was offi cially accepted into service Read More
  • USS Cincinnati to be Delivered to US Navy +

    USS Cincinnati US News USS CINCINNATI is the latest member of the expanding littoral combat ship fl eet to be delivered to Read More
  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • DFDS and Moby +

    DFDS and Moby PROPOSED FERRY EXCHANGE ‘AND A TALE OF TWO STEAMERS...’ Read More
  • From Port Glasgow Nationalisation to Philip & Son, Dartmouth +

    Red Eagle So, not many months ago, nationalisation was unfashionable and unlikely ever to return, especially within the EU where that institution’s Read More
  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

    Glen Sannox Those in management positions must dread the retirement of those characters who retire from their life’s work with a wealth Read More
  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race +

    Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race In July, the brigantine Tres Hombres called at Brixham on passage from the Caribbean to Amsterdam with 35 tonnes of Read More
  • From Gloucester Tall Ships to Kenyan Sailing Dhows +

    Royalist Gloucester Dock is linked to the River Severn at Sharpness by a 16 mile canal. Read More
  • The Zea Servant +

    Zea Servant The Hong Kong registered Zea Servant arrived late June from Hull. She was in Campbeltown to load wind turbines for Read More
  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Flying Focus Calendar 2020 +

    Flying Focus Calendar 2020 FOR MORE THAN 30 years, Flying Focus, based in the Netherlands, has specialised in maritime aerial photography.. Read More
  • Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms +

    Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms It was good news to hear in late September that, according to the ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, the detained tanker Read More
  • Gulf Tensions Result in Cruise Cancellations +

    Oceana IN THE ‘MESSAGE FROM THE BRIDGE’ I referred to the tensions with Iran in the Gulf, following the seizure in Read More
  • Waverley Appeal Reaches Half Million Milestone +

    Waverley Appeal THE WAVERLEY – the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world – had to be withdrawn from service in May this year Read More
  • Welcome to 'Spirit Of Discovery' - Farewell to 'Oriana' +

    Spirit of Discovery WITHIN the last two months the British cruise industry has welcomed the arrival of Saga Cruises, 58,250gt, Spirit of Discovery, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Silversea Cruises has Partnered with French Luxury Glassmaker Lalique +

    Silver Shadow SILVERSEA CRUISES has partnered with French luxury glassmaker Lalique to enhance the dining experience onboard Silver Shadow and Silver Moon. Read More
  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Seventy-Five Years On

Seventy-Five Years On

In 1944, Tom Bradbury was serving as a 22-year-old Royal Navy lieutenant in the DIDO class cruiser HMS Scylla. Having Read More
The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

During the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina over control of the archipelago known to the British as Read More
  • 1
  • 2