If weather conditions allow, MV Hebrides will move from Lochmaddy tomorrow (Thursday 29th September) and begin her journey to Greenock where she will enter dry dock at the end of the week.
Poor conditions over the last two days have caused disruptions all over the CalMac network, including sailings between Castlebay and Oban.
In order to overcome the backlog of freight and passengers and to maintain CalMac’s lifeline commitments in Barra, MV Isle of Lewis will sail north to Uig on Skye on Thursday, where she will disembark Barra traffic, before making a return journey to Lochmaddy. This should clear the majority of the Uist freight backlog which has accumulated and will ease the strain at both sides of the Minch. MV Isle of Lewis, on return to Uig, will then embark traffic for the Isle of Barra, before making her way back south to Castlebay.
In the meantime – also on Thursday – MV Clansman is to transfer to the Skye/North Uist/Harris triangular service and will pick up the regular three-way timetable on Friday (30th September) returning the route to normal.
MV Lord of the Isles, which has delivered an emergency interim service to keep Uist connected to the mainland, despite adverse weather conditions, will transfer to Oban tomorrow (Thursday 29th September) to take up MV Clansman’s routes to Coll, Tiree and Colonsay on Friday.
This does mean that there will be a temporary loss of MV Lord of the Isles on the dedicated Lochboisdale to Mallaig route, as well as a decrease in capacity on the run from Mallaig to Armadale, Isle of Skye. However, the latter service will continue to operate, although it will be affected by some tidal restrictions.
“It is hoped that these contingencies, which will be in place for at least a week, will provide a robust and sustainable service until MV Hebrides is available to return to her usual place within the network,” said CalMac’s Operations Director Drew Collier.
“We know that there will be some people who are disappointed with our choices, but we believe there is an overwhelming majority who will welcome these as sensible, considered and fitting decisions. The capacity afforded by MV Clansman, MV Hebrides’ sister ship, should keep Uist’s traffic on an even keel, particularly as we are past the peak season, despite the temporary loss of the Lochboisdale service.
“For Coll, Tiree and Colonsay, MV Lord of the Isles is an already familiar vessel, having served these routes well for many years. Our crews and port staff have worked tirelessly with us on these contingencies and are as much a part of the choices, based on their exceptional knowledge of the network and our communities. We offer genuine thanks to both them and all our passengers who have been so patient. Full details of these timetabling changes can be found on our website and customers are advised to check carefully and regularly.”
All updates can be found at www.calmac.co.uk and on the company’s social media channels.