crossings&cruises...
Main Crossings Sconser - Raasay
Sconser - Raasay
Skye - Raasay
Crossing Time:
25 Minutes
Regular Ship:
Loch Striven

SHIP TIMELINE:

1976: Canna / Raasay
1977 - 1996: Raasay
1997: Raasay / Loch Striven
1998 - Present: Loch Striven
Expected 2013: Hallaig
Additional Ships:
Various members of the Island Class and Loch Class ferries on relief duties.
 

JUMP ON A VIRTUAL CROSSING
 Terminal Facilities:
Sconser: Minimal facilities, as with many of the shorter crossings. Slipway and pier jutting out into the loch at Sconser. Small area set aside for cars to queue in while waiting for the ferry. No ticket facilities - these are purchased on the ferry.

Raasay: Small harbour for the ferry to berth in while not in service. There is a small waiting area for cars and passengers, but as with Sconser - tickets are purchased on the ferry so there is no ticket office.
 
 Route History:
The current route to the small island of Raasay opened in early 1976 when the new CANNA entered service and also opened the new terminal at Sconser on Skye. Prior to this happening, Raasay was served by a mail steamer from Portree; the LOCH ARKAIG. In 1975 the little EIGG took over the route from Portree but less than a year later the crossing from Portree to Raasay ceased.

The CANNA brought with her a new, shorter and much more convenient service which still exists virtually unchanged today. The new crossing only took a mere 15 minutes to complete in either direction. The ferry was also based on the island as opposed to Skye - thus providing a means of transport out of hours - for example in a medical emergency.
 
Later on in 1976 however, the route was placed in the care of what was to become its dedicated ferry for the next 20 years. The appropriately named RAASAY entered service as the eighth and final member of the 'Island Class' ferries. Her capacity was for 6 cars and she quickly settled into a routine.

The RAASAY remained on the crossing to her namesake isle for over twenty years. She did not serve any other route in her time there and indeed her only time away from the island was once a year for her overhauls. She also achieved quite a rare record in that she did not miss a single full day of service through either being stormbound or struck down by mechanical failure of some sort.


Picture: Stuart Cameron
RAASAY off duty at her namesake isle
 



LOCH STRIVEN arriving at Sconser
 

The Raasay crossing in the 1990s, as with almost everywhere else in the CalMac network, saw traffic levels grow considerably. The RAASAY, with her capacity of only six cars per sailing began to suffer the same problem as had dogged her sisters some ten years previously and found herself leaving cars behind more and more.

As had been the solution elsewhere in the network, it was decided that a larger ferry should assume the Sconser - Raasay duties. And so it was that in the summer of 1997, the former Largs - Cumbrae ferry LOCH STRIVEN left the Clyde for pastures new and displaced the faithful RAASAY in the Hebrides.
Since 1997 the short crossing to Raasay has been looked after by the LOCH STRIVEN. Capable of carrying twice the number of cars as her predecessors, she has dealt well with the traffic presenting itself for shipment comfortably. Years before there had been reluctance to have a larger ferry on the crossing as it anticipated that the newcomer would not be based on the island, however these fears came to nothing and today the LOCH STRIVEN still sails back and forth between Raasay and Skye.

In 2011 it was announced that a new generation vessel would enter service in late 2012 / early 2013. This, another similar but larger 'Loch Class' style vessel, will be powered by a hybrid combination of batteries and a small diesel engine - a world first for a sea going ro-ro vessel. Currently being built at Fergusons on the Clyde, it will be much greener and efficient to operate than any previous company vessel.

Update: December 2012
On the 17th of December 2012 Raasay's newest vessel entered the Clyde for the first time after launching from Fergusons shipyard at 1400. Blessed by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon she hold two quite significant 'firsts'. She is the first complete vessel to be launched on the once prosperous river Clyde for almost 5 years. She also holds the claim to fame in being the worlds first diesel electric hybrid ro-ro vessel - something which in the future is likely to become the norm. After fitting out and trials she will enter service on the route in 2013.

Images from Ships of CalMac Collection



LOCH STRIVEN heading for Raasay


HALLAIG preparing for launch at Fergusons


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