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30/11/05 Isle of Arran is now at her temporary berth at Fairlie where she will await further use as spare vessel over the winter and her eventual overhaul.

Picture Credit: Brian Climie
Isle of Arran at Fairlie.

  CalMac Press Release:
CalMac submits Northern Isles Tender bid

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) believes it has submitted a compelling case to be awarded the contract for the provision of lifeline ferry services to the Northern Isles from next April.

CalMac, which has 150 years of experience providing lifeline ferry services on the West coast of Scotland, is one of the two contenders to operate the services.

A wide-ranging series of consultation meetings were held in Orkney and Shetland with key customers and agencies on the islands as part of CalMac’s preparation for the bid which was submitted to the Scottish Executive in Glasgow today (Thursday, December 1, 2005).

Managing Director Lawrie Sinclair said that the Company’s consultation meetings had enabled CalMac to identify solutions to the key service issues. He said: “We identified very early on in the consultation process that the management of cabins and livestock handling were the key areas which had to be developed. We have now developed potential solutions for both scenarios and we believe these solutions are of a nature and quality that they will enable a successful bid to operate the Northern Isles service. CalMac’s bid is based on our consultation meetings which showed that we appear to have the support of both island communities in terms of the way we have managed the operation, raising customer care service standards and addressing any issues which might have appeared. We will strengthen the operation in key areas and bring innovative solutions to bear in areas which have been difficult in the past.”

CalMac is not in a position to publish the details of the bid submission at this stage as there may be a further round of meetings with the Scottish Executive before decisions are made. Mr. Sinclair said: “I hope that the communities of the Northern Isles will appreciate that this is still a highly competitive situation and there are very good reasons for us protecting the integrity of our bid. Much of what we are proposing must remain confidential while this early stage of the bid process is completed and once we are in a position to reveal the details of what we are planning, and what our solutions are, we will be very happy to do so. Meantime, we would appreciate it if we could retain a degree of commercial confidentiality in the circumstances.”

In its Annual Report and Accounts for 2004-5, published in September, CalMac reported an increase of 2.8% (144,000) in passenger carryings to 5.4 million and car traffic by 5.3% (55,000) to 1.1 million. The increases in traffic and general business performance saw the Company achieve its results with no increase in Deficit Grant from the 25.9 million received in the previous year.
30/11/05 Isle of Arran left Kennacraig this morning heading for Ardrossan to unload crew cars around entering Ardrossan Harbour at 12.50 She left within half an hour bound for Fairlie to be laid up until her services are next required.

CalMac Press Realise:
 CalMac confirms allocation of new ferry to Fergusons

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has confirmed that the order for the new vessel to serve the Largs-Cumbrae Slip service will be built at Fergusons Shipyard in Port Glasgow.

The then Minister for Transport Nicol Stephen MSP confirmed on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 that he had approved tendering for the new vessel estimated to cost around 5.8million following the Executive’s 2004 Spending Review.

Fergusons were confirmed as preferred bidder for the contract for the new vessel by the CalMac Board which met in Arran yesterday (Wednesday 30 November). Subject to final conclusion of the specification and terms of conditions, the contract to build the ship will be awarded to Fergusons and work will begin soon.

CalMac Managing Director Lawrie Sinclair said: “CalMac is delighted to have this confirmation of the new build details. As a former shipbuilder myself, I am absolutely delighted that a local shipyard has come out on top in the competition to produce the best options for building this new vessel. Negotiations will continue between ourselves and Fergusons to complete the detail of the contract and I am sure that these discussions will be concluded amicably and quickly. This is excellent news for the workforce at Fergusons. It is very good news for the Company and I am delighted that we are able to confirm the progress of this project which will enable us to proceed with the other planning which is required, improving facilities for the new vessel at Largs and Cumbrae Slip.”

The ordering of this new vessel was conducted in accordance with EU public procurement procedures. CalMac’s Technical Director John Kerr said: “Value for money, reliability and delivery were the key factors in awarding the contract to Fergusons. There were 9 expressions of interest in this contract originally from Germany, Poland, Norway, Italy and the UK. Invitations to tender were issued in September to 8 companies in the end. Five responded and the Fergusons option clearly offered the best value for the investment. The new vessel will normally carry 24 cars and up to 250 passengers and will be due for delivery in the Spring of 2007. Building will start as soon as possible.”

Mr Sinclair added: “As with the building of any new vessel, it is important that everyone appreciates at the outset that there will be a fixed budget for this project and that we have to achieve best value for money, while producing the most customer-friendly ship possible. I am very much looking forward to getting the project up and running and delighted to be starting the building process up again in a local yard, at what is an extremely challenging time for both ourselves and Fergusons.

The new ship should enter service in the Spring of 2007, releasing one of the current vessels on the Largs-Cumbrae Slip service to improve the Oban-Lismore service.”
29/11/05 Hebridean Isles is now back at Islay after her annual overhaul. She will not be covering the Scrabster - Stromness station until the 09/02/06. Isle of Arran is due at Fairlie anytime for her overhaul and will be staying there until Christmas. Isle of Cumbrae is staying on the 2nd mull roster until 23/12/05 to cover for Loch Fyne, this has enforced a maximum deadweight of 38 tonnes for any HGV's on the crossing.
Loch Buie should be leaving Rothesay for Iona on Thursday. This will then free the Loch Linnhe to move to Sconser and relieve the Loch Striven so that she can go to Ardmaleish for her overhaul.

SoC Crew
Hamnavoe, Hoy Sound this morning.

Northlink: The weather in the north has finally retreated and all NorthLink services are now back to normal. The Hamnavoe on the Scrabster Stromness route is finally now taking her normal westerly route through Hoy sound and into the Atlantic, rather than her more sheltered (longer) route through Scapa Flow and into the Pentland Firth.
28/11/05 Loch Buie is undergoing her final fitting out after her winter overhaul. She has moved to Rothesay inner berth while crew / shore staff apply the final touches for her return back to the Iona station. She is pictured with crew repairing her mast. Isle of Mull sailed into the Mersey under cover of darkness this morning and is now in dry dock at North Western Ship Repairers (Cammell Laird #4), in Birkenhead ready and awaiting her annual overhaul.

Will Murray
Loch Buie at Rothesay.

  Northlink: It has been reported that NorthLink Ferries is under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The OFT visited NorthLink's offices in Orkney, Shetland and Aberdeen last week. An OFT spokesman confirmed: “This is part of the OFT competition act. There have been allegations that a cartel has been operating with regard to ferry freight services”. However, no assumptions should be made that there has been an infringement of competition law. We are in no position to decide that until we have all the details and facts.”

A NorthLink spokesman commented: “Our staff did everything possible to assist the OFT with their enquiries and NorthLink is cooperating fully with the investigation.”
26/11/05 Clyde: It Appears that Bute spent last night at Wemyss Bay sheltering from the winds which were from a northerly direction. This would have left her buffeting against the pier at Rothesay.
Loch Dunvegan made her way back from Gourock to the Kyles of Bute to resume service. It is reported that Isle of Cumbrae will now sail for Lochaline and relieve the Loch Fyne. The Loch Fyne is apparently to go into dry dock with Loch Alainn once the Saturn's overhaul is complete. We believe Loch Tarbert will return to service on relief duties at Cumbrae.

SoC Crew
Bute at Wemyss Bay last night.

Western Isles: Lochnevis's 0915 departure from Mallaig was delayed until 1000 while she awaited train passengers due to a road being blocked at Arisaig. Isle of Lewis will only be making one crossing today due to the weather conditions. She departed Stornoway at 1000 and is due to arrive in Ullapool at 1245 where she will leave once traffic has been loaded. There will be an extra service tomorrow (Sunday) ex Stornoway 0715 and Ullapool at 1030. See link above for more information.
Isle of Mull
returned from Colonsay to berth bow-in at Oban before vacating the linkspan to lie at Craignure overnight. She is due to leave early in the morning for her annual overhaul in Birkenhead. Lord of the Isles is now covering the Oban - Craignure crossing with Clansman on the Outer Isles and Coll - Tiree routes.
Weather Disruptions: There are continuing weather disruptions today. See external link above for more information.
25/11/05 Clyde: It appears that Caledonian Isles has damaged herself berthing at Ardrossan tonight, she is currently awaiting assessors. If she is fit to sail she will depart at approx 2000 tonight. Bute did not take her 1945 sailing to Rothesay.
Update: Caledonian Isles sailed at 2200 for Brodick after an inspection.

Western Isles: There will be a 3 ship operation out of Oban tomorrow with a 0645 to Coll and Tiree, 0700 to Castlebay and Lochboisdale and 1400 to Colonsay. The Tiree boat will do the 1600 to Mull. The Hebrides is stormbound at Uig with her 0730 x Lochmaddy cancelled tomorrow, likewise the Isle of Arran is stormbound at Kennacraig.

Tom McGrattan
Bow Damage to Caledonian Isles.

24/11/05 Northlink: The Hamnavoe made one return crossing across the Pentland Firth this Morning and is now secured at Stromness until at least Tomorrow Morning due to the extremely high northerly winds in the Northern Isles at present.

Both the Hjaltland and Hrossey have also cancelled this evenings sailings from Aberdeen (including Kirkwall) and Lerwick. All Tomorrows sailings are also under review due to the forecast predicting a sustained wind speed.
23/11/05 We are advised that the Isle of Mull will come off duty this coming Saturday evening and spend the night at Craignure. She will then head off to Birkenhead for her annual overhaul, with Lord of the Isles coming down from Tobermory to take up the Oban - Craignure run. Isle of Arran arrived at Port Ellen at 0820.
Juno has now taken her place back on the Gourock - Dunoon run from the 1520 sailing this afternoon. Saturn came off duty and made her way to Garvel Dry Dock, which she entered at 1545 for her turn to be overhauled.

The master on Isle of Lewis has advised of likely disruptions due to the expected poor weather in the coming few days. See the above link for full details.

21/11/05 Juno and Loch Duvegan left Garvel Dry Dock today and were towed into the adjacent JWD for the finishing touches to their annual overhauls. Loch Buie is now slipped at Ardmaleish on Bute for her overhaul. We have had a report that on completion of her overhaul at Aberdeen, Hebridean Isles will go to Scrabster for relief duties until early February 2006.
20/11/2004 Site News:
  With recent Media coverage SoC hit almost 900 unique visitors on the 14th - almost three times the amount we normally receive daily. There has also been a steady increase in viewers to the site recently seeing double the usual amount in the last few weeks. This month we are on track to receiving over 10,000 visitors - the fist time we will achieve this huge figure. We hope new viewers enjoyed your visit and we look forward to seeing you and our regulars back onboard soon! Any Comments or Questions - as ever let us know!
Steve Hurst, Site Editor
19/11/05 Clansman has returned from the Lewis crossing following the return to service of the Isle of Lewis. Lord of the Isles will berth at Tobermory to free up room in Oban until the Isle of Mull goes for her annual overhaul.
  Other News:
  Former CalMac veteran paddler Waverley's 2006 season will start on Good Friday, 14th April.
As a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of her launch (in October 1946) she will operate a special end of season weekend sailing programme on the Clyde in October 2006 following her return from the normal Thames season.
There will be some other alterations to programme - more details later - see links for Waverley.
16/11/05 Coruisk missed a couple of sailings today on the Rothesay route - the 0630 ex Rothesay and 0715 return, and also the 1430 ex Rothesay and 1515 return.
15/11/05 Other News:
  On Charter TO CalMac Muirneag's storm ordeal from the 11/11/05 was featured in today's Daily Record and Glasgow Herald.
  Northlink: Due to the Hrossey’s late departure from Lerwick this Morning, she only arrived at Aberdeen at 14:40 and is scheduled for departure for Lerwick at 21:00. The vessel will probably arrive at Lerwick on time in the Morning due to her capable speed. The Hjaltland and Hrossay have a high reserve for speed so they can call in past Orkney and still arrive at the same time as the direct vessel heading in the other direction.
14/11/05 Lord of the Isles, having left JWD a couple of days ago is apparently taking the Coll and Tiree sailings while Coll linkspan is closed for annual work & repairs. Clansman is either doing solely Outer Isles or lying spare somewhere presumably. She will then replace Isle of Mull when she goes off for overhaul on 28th Nov. Bruernish and Eigg are now using the North Pier berth in Oban as drilling work for new linkspan appears to be underway off the Railway Pier. Loch Buie was allowed to 'stretch her legs' today and had a bit play at Gourock before returning at 09:30. It is reported that the Clansman is heading north to cover for the Isle of Lewis which seems to be having technical problems - any updates will be posted.
  Northlink: Due to adverse weather the Hrossey’s sailing from Lerwick Tonight has been rescheduled to depart at 06:00 on Tuesday 15th. The Hamnavoe made one return trip this morning but has cancelled all further sailings Today with Tomorrow's 06:30 from Stromness also under review.
  News From the BBC Police Investigate Ferry 'Attack' (external link)
13/11/05 Hebridean Isles arrived in Aberdeen at 1830 tonight for her annual overhaul, she was later sighted testing her life saving equipment. The Isle of Arran has been is covering for her on the Islay roster as of the 12/11/05. Due to survey work being carried out for the new Oban Linkspan, Isle of Mull spent most of today at the Lighthouse vessel berth in the bay.

SoC Crew
Hebridean Isles at Aberdeen.

12/11/05 Northlink:Due to the poor weather conditions over the country last night and Today the Hjaltland, Hamnavoe and Hascosay have all suffered delays. The Hjaltland only left Hatston (Kirkwall) at 02:10 arriving Aberdeen 08:50 this Morning. The vessel also suffered a leak at the port boat deck access door which caused sea water to enter the upper foyer area on deck 6 and surrounding corridors, and into the reception area on deck 5. The Hascosay arrived into Aberdeen at 15:00 after a 19 hour trip from Lerwick. The Hamnavoe has cancelled both the 16:45 from Stromness and the 19:00 from Scrabster this evening.

SoC Crew
Hjaltland's leaking door.


Severe weather has caused major problems today... Lochnevis was unable to carry out her Armadale and Small Isles sailings. Loch Linnhe saw her Iona crossings cancelled for the day. The Colonsay service and Barra and South Uist crossings were all cancelled, as was the Oban - Craignure service through this afternoon and the evening. At first the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay route was diverted to Gourock, with Bute and Coruisk seeking shelter out of the wind and joining the Loch Buie as she waits for her overhaul at Ardmaleish, although this afternoon the whole service was cancelled altogether.
Caledonian Isles
was initially diverted to Gourock early this afternoon but on her return to Brodick the service was suspended. The Sound of Barra and Sound of Harris sailings were cancelled. Even Hebrides was out of service this afternoon as conditions worsened in the Minch which also leaded the On Charter TO CalMac Muirneag into a very bad crossing having to take shelter off Stornoway unable to get into the harbour after 16 hours at sea. Loch Alainn had her last sailing at 1015 to Cumbrae and was then stormbound at Largs. For a while the Saturn was stormbound at Gourock and was then allowed out on a passenger-only service, resuming with cars this afternoon.
remained stormbound at Tobermory through this afternoon and finally the Hebridean Isles missed her afternoon sailing to Islay.

With the weather due to worsen further still, it is possible that disruptions will continue into tomorrow. Check the external link above for up-to -date info!

  Northlink: It is understand that the chartered freighter On Charter TO CalMac Clare has had engine problems this week and has missed a number of sailings, She arrived at 1000 on 03/11 in Aberdeen and sailed North tonight for the first time this week.(11/11)
10/11/05 Mechanical problems on Isle of Lewis mean the 1030 from Ullapool and the 1345 from Stornoway are cancelled. As a result Hebrides is operating a special timetable today so that Lewis and Harris aren't cut off. Full details from the external link above. Hebrides arrived at Uig at 1610 and departed at 1646 for Tarbert, the sailing was delayed to accommodate the Ullapool - Stornoway traffic. ETA Tarbert 1815. Tomorrows sailings look like they could be disrupted too. The Sound of Iona sailings on Loch Linnhe are also liable to disruption tomorrow. See external link above for updates.
09/11/05 Isle of Mull's 10:00 ex Oban - Craignure and return have been cancelled due to technical problems. The next scheduled sailing is 1600hrs.
10:45 Eigg dep Oban to Craignure with a van, car and about 20 passengers in place of the Isle of Mull.
Update: Isle of Mull attempted her sailing to Colonsay this afternoon after what seemed to be repairs. However she was sighted returning to Oban a short while later presumably with the same fault.

Isle of Mull
IoM returning to Oban this afternoon.

08/11/05 Western Isles:
  After last nights storm, Craignure gangway was damaged resulting in passengers boarding / alighting via the car deck ramps on the Oban - Craignure crossing. Loch Linnhe is now covering the Fionnphort - Iona duty allowing the Loch Buie to undertake her overhaul on the Clyde where she is currently lying at the wires (Gourock).
  Loch Riddon appears to be on the Tarbert - Lochranza / Portavadie run in place of the Loch Tarbert. Loch Dunvegan has now joined Lord of the Isles and Juno for annual overhaul. Bute returned from overhaul and joined the Coruisk working Wemyss Bay -Rothesay.
  Northlink: Due to the adverse weather forecast, the 0630 sailing of the Hamnavoe, from Stromness and the 0845 sailing from Scrabster, today have been cancelled. Later sailings will also be under review. During the recent high winds the Hamnavoe has been using both Scrabster and Stromness stern first. Freight has been reversed onto the vessel while cars are being turned inside the ship.
07/11/05 Isle of Lewis is sheltering overnight in Ullapool from tonight's storm force weather rather than her usual Stornoway layover.
06/11/05 Juno is currently sitting at the wires (Gourock) awaiting her trip to JWD for Annual overhaul. Loch Buie was sighted emerging from the Kyles of Bute and then made her way up towards Gourock. We assume Loch Linnhe, now absent from Largs, has gone to relieve her at Iona. Loch Dunvegan also left the Kyles of Bute this morning after changeover with the Isle of Cumbrae, which left Rothesay at 0900 this morning.
02/11/05 Having been relieved on the Tarbert - Portavadie crossing for the winter timetable, Isle of Cumbrae is now lying at the inside berth at Fairlie. Loch Linnhe also returned to her old haunts at Largs today. Coruisk relieved the Bute on the Wemyss Bay - Rothesay service, taking up the route with the 13:00 sailing from Wemyss Bay. Bute is currently in James Watt Dock. On Sunday the Bute should return to service when Saturn takes the Dunoon roster and the Juno goes off for her overhaul.
01/11/05 Northlink: It is believed that the NorthLink charter of the On Charter TO CalMac Zebu Express to cover freight duties has now ended. Freight rosters should now be back on track with the following deployments kicking things off:

31/10/2005 - Mon - AB - KI / LE - AB
01/11/2005 - Tue - KI - AB / AB - LE
02/11/2005 - Wed - AB - LE / LE - AB
03/11/2005 - Thu - LE - AB / AB - LE
04/11/2005 - Fri - AB - LE / LE - AB
05/11/2005 - Sat - LE - AB / AB - LE
06/11/2005 - Sun - AB -KI / Layover in Lerwick
07/11/2005 - Mon - KI – AB / Layover in Lerwick
08/11/2005 - Tue - AB - LE / LE - AB
09/11/2005 - Wed - LE - AB / AB - LE
10/11/2005 - Thu - AB - LE / LE - AB
11/11/2005 - Fri - LE - AB / AB - LE
12/11/2005 - Sat - Layover in Aberdeen / Layover in Lerwick
13/11/2005 - Sun - AB - KI / Layover in Lerwick

AB = Aberdeen / KI = Kirwall / LE = Lerwick

Picture: SoC Crew
Zebu Express in Aberdeen.

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