The machinery gremlins hit CalMac again in November when the Rothesay vessel Bute had to be withdrawn with serious gearbox issues.
As luck would have it, this was just as her sister Argyle was already in hand at Greenock for winter maintenance. As is often the case it was the, in much demand, reliable, ugly duckling Coruisk that filled the breach.
Readers may be interested in an image of the Brenda Corlett that purports to be a ro-ro in West African service. You don’t have to look too closely to spot the name at the bow is an unsubtle pasteon over the name Pioneer. She proudly sports the CalMac lion rampant and that background, well it has the sound and scent of the bagpipes and purple heather all over it rather than of the West African tropics.
Pioneer 1,071,’74 from Henry Robb’s yard, Leith, had become like Coruisk and Isle of Arran the reliable relief ship/gap filler and for a while, it looked like CalMac would never be able to let her go, but she was finally sold to Sao Tomé based Corlett Lines in August 2004 and is said to be named after the new owner’s wife.
Corletts is an innovative relatively small enterprise, but with an interesting mix of businesses. Corletts family name came originally from the Isle of Man and their gravitation to West Africa has seen them be instrumental in introducing the first ro-ro passenger-cargo service between the islands of Sao Tomé and Principé and the African mainland; with the ex Pioneer and a small ex Norwegian ferry the Nadine Corlett ex Fiskebøl. The Brenda Corlett former Pioneer in ‘06, took three hundred Liberian refugees home from Tema, Ghana, chartered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.