Tiree continues to be affected by the ongoing ferry situation, despite the island’s dedicated vessel, the MV Clansman now back in operation following an 8 week stay in dry-dock.
Following on from successful sea trials at the beginning of the week, the MV Clansman has now been deployed to the Uig triangle to substitute the MV Hebrides who is due in dry dock, following on from an agreed three-week extension to their operating license issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Finlay MacRae, Cal Mac Area Operations for the north, told Tiree Community Council: “Assuming no unforeseen issues, MV Hebrides should be available again for service week commencing 21st May and that in turn will allow MV Clansman to return to Tiree, Coll and Colonsay service.” However, he then continued: “The current repair to the Clansman is being permitted with a time restriction on the repaired component parts, which will have to be fully replaced by new parts which are currently being manufactured. The removal of the temp parts and installation of the new will require the vessel to attend dry dock again, we expect in June, and will be in touch shortly to discuss.”
Tiree is currently still being serviced by The Lord of the Isles, which to the most part is able to cope with the demand of Tiree traffic, at this time of year. The earlier introduction of an additional Saturday sailing has been hugely beneficial in assisting with capacity issues. However, it is looking like the capacity issues that arose over the Easter weekend, are due to be mirrored this weekend, as Tiree gears up for the annual 10K and Half Marathon event.
As An Tirisdeach goes to press, various issues were developing, however as expected it mostly transpired that the LOTI wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand and the MV Isle of Mull will be deployed to Tiree on Friday (4th) and Monday (7th May). It is still unclear as to whether this redeployment of a slightly bigger vessel will be able to accommodate all current bookings.
With limited vessels available at their disposal, I think it is fair to say that Cal Mac have done the best job possible in deploying their fleet around the various island routes. Tiree has mostly coped being serviced by the LOTI which has 65% less capacity then the Clansman. However, we are still left hugely frustrated when travel over peak weekends and island events is disrupted and affected due to failure of advance planning from Cal Mac. It is fair to say that communication from the company has not been sufficient, with various last-minute decisions being made and complaints from customers who have been given little warning of changes to their bookings.
Finlay MacRae commented on the recent booking system issue that was raised by Tiree residents, stating: “We have also been having some issues with the reservations system, largely caused by a huge volume of ship and timetable changes driven through the system over the last week, and some sailing availability was not replicating to the internet correctly, but was available via port or contact centre. This has now been rectified, but if we can suggest that where sailings online are showing as not available please double check with us at the port or by the contact number in case there are any further system issues. Grateful thanks to those who brought some of the reservations system issues to our attention.”
All issues are being closely monitored by Tiree Community Council and the Tiree Transport forum who are keeping in touch with various representatives from Cal Mac and also continue to lobby island minister Michael Russell and Transport Minister for the islands, Humza Yousaf.