Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trouble in the Isles

The Scottish tourist board have been hoping for a record breaking tourist season. What with the recession, volcano dust interrupting plane flights and the exceptionally dry June here in Scotland, things were looking promising....

This is the MV Clansman, she is one of the hardest working ferries in the Calmac fleet. It is 0743am and she is steaming out through the Sound of Mull towards Coll, Tiree then back to Coll. After visiting the islands she will return to Oban for a mere 40 minutes before heading back through the Sound of Mull and out to Castlebay in Barra! She is known as the loudest vessel in the Calmac fleet. We were camping at the SE entrance to the Sound of Mull but woke up when she started her engines 18km away in Oban! Sadly she has suffered a catastrophic engine failure and the life line she provides to Coll, Tiree, Barra and South Uist has been disrupted.

To maintain service, Calmac have transferred the MV Hebridean Isles, which normally does the Kintyre, Islay, Colonsay, Oban run, to help cover the Clansman's normal routes.

The MV Isle of Mull, which normally does the Oban to Mull run has also been drafted in to help cover the Clansman. The effect of this is that services to Islay, Colonsay, Mull, Coll, Tiree, Barra and South Uist are all affected. To make matters worse, the Scottish school holidays have just started.

If this was not enough, the record dry June has left reservoirs depleted in what are some of the wettest parts of the world! We now have an almost unbelievable situation where Mull is having to import water at a time when the ferries have restricted sailings!

As we say in Scotland, "It never rains but it pours!"


  1. Found this information very interesting. New news to me about the ferry.Maybe this is the future for the western isles.Hot summers.We have certainly done more islands already this year than last which would not be hard.No midges and a cool sea breeze. You must be enoying your paddling recently, even a roll would be pleasant.

  2. Hello Bluesky, I am recoviring from knee surgery at the moment which has severely curtailed my paddling and pretty much everything else!

    I do hope you continue to enjoy the islands, they all have a unique character.


  3. I was on the Clansman when she went bang, about 45 minutes from Castlebay en route to Oban via Tiree and Coll - there was an almighty bang, the whole ship shuddered, turned to a jaunty angle and then stopped dead in the water before proceeding to rock wildly from side to side. Scary stuff! It felt like we'd hit rocks or something underwater.

    After fifteen or twenty minutes they managed to get her going again and we limped straight to Oban slowly on one engine (and the crew had incredible trouble berthing there, with crowds gathering on shore to watch the efforts!), but it was all a bit concerning to those of us on board at the time.

    Not surprised to see her still being repaired!

  4. Thank you for this interesting information Andy. It must have been very unpleasant. I well remember the ferries before stabilisers so the rocking side to side must have been horrible.

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