The issue of ferry operation, subsequent to the UK leaving the EU, will rather, regretfully, but unavoidably, continue to feature in these pages for some time to come.
One of those almost inevitable accidents of weather, affected the Isle of Tiree service in March where Hebridean Isles was standing-in for the dry-docked Clansman, the usual vessel on the route. The strong wind and great swell affected Hebridean Isles trying to dock at Tiree on arrival from Oban, the combined effect of wind and wave ripping out her stern mooring gear. She was forced to abort Tiree disembarkation and had to return to Oban with her passengers and vehicles for Tiree still aboard, arriving nine hours after setting out from the mainland terminal. She then was withdrawn for repairs.
UK waters have endured much bad weather with strong easterlies causing shipping problems. Northlink services to Kirkwall and Lerwick were significantly adjusted to avoid the impact of well forecasted gales, bringing some departures forward several hours. Charlie McCurdy witnessed good teamwork and excellent terminal in Hunters Quay, which was experiencing strong easterly winds which are fairly infrequent in this vicinity and is one of the most challenging directions for this route’s ferries. Charlie noted one of the ferries provide a lee to assist the others berthing. The photographs show the “Sound of Scarba” giving the “Sound of Shuna” and the “Sound of Seil” a lee from the wind and swell and after they departed, the “Sound of Scarba” then also berthed and loaded for McInroys Point.
Due to the weather, Argyll Ferries passenger link Gourock-Dunoon was suspended and a West Coast Motors replacement bus service connected to Western Ferries vessels.
The Clyde and CalMac may soon see the departure of the last of the eight Isles Class landing craft type small ferries that have proven their worth since the fi rst arrived in 1972 from James Lamont Builders Glasgow. With a small turntable, they could carry five cars or one truck and 75 passengers. In March, Eigg departed Sandbank for Corpach via an overnight stop at Campbeltown and Oban and on to Corpach for annual survey and the removal of her Cal Mac logos, prior to sale to new owners as yet unknown. Meanwhile, Raasay left for new owners in Ireland which is quite likely to fi nd a home for Eigg too.
Their need for only simple slipways and minimal crewing (3), the class has proven its worth for emergency and spare ship operation. I wonder what will be available in the future to undertake such duties?