I was very pleasantly surprised this morning when I received an email from Calmac with an explanation about what looked to me, and a few others, as an "almost grounding" in Port Ellen last Tuesday. So what did happen that day around noon, when the Hebridean Isles wasn't able to berth in Port Ellen and had to divert to Port Askaig?
Calmac explains: "As you observed while trying to berth at Port Ellen the vessel was caught in a strong (approx 35kts +) westerly squall. In these circumstances one contingency is to allow the bow to lightly touch a sand bar adjacent to the berth on the southern side of the bay in order to prevent the vessel from being blown to leeward and into the shallower water in Loch Leodamais, this is what the Master opted to do. He then backed clear of the berth to allow adequate sea-room to swing the vessel and proceeded back to sea, diverting to Port Askaig. This was a deliberate seamanship not an accidental grounding, the vessel was inspected after the manoeuvre before progressing to its next destination." Continue reading...
Extra sailings for Islay Festival
CalMac is laying on extra sailings to cope with demand from travellers heading to this year's Islay Festival of Music and Malt. The festival runs from May 22-30 and has a diverse programme of activities and events featuring traditional music, ceilidhs, Gaelic lessons, golf, bowling and whisky tasting. Sailings have been arranged to ease capacity at expected peak travelling times to the island. Sailings will depart as follows:
Thursday 21 May
20:25 Port Ellen to Kennacraig
20:30 Kennacraig to Port Ellen
Friday 22 May
20:35 Kennacraig to Port Askaig
20:15 Port Askaig to Kennacraig
Sunday 31 May
15:30 Kennacraig to Port Askaig
17:55 Port Askaig to Kennacraig
The above sailings are additional to CalMac's normal scheduled sailings to Islay.