Monday, 20 September 2010

Up & Down the Sound

It's been a mixed week of weather for traffic in the Sound, from the rough spell we had on Tuesday, when the Norwegian well boat Ronja Pioneer passed the self-loading bulk carrier Vestnes, to the almost flat calm we had yesterday. The Pioneer has been up and down the Sound constantly over recent weeks as Marine Harvest are emptying their salmon nets along Loch Sunart, and she carries the catch - if that's what one calls it - to Mallaig for processing. Meanwhile, Vestnes is doing some of the work left by the absence of the Yeoman Bontrup, carrying aggregate from Glensanda super-quarry to markets across Europe.

This is the Celtic King, a cargo ship of 6,250dwt, passing Ardmore Point beacon and the telecommunication masts on Glengorm yesterday on her way to Warrenpoint at the head of Carlingford Lough in Northern Ireland. She has an incongruously high superstructure aft which must act like a sail in windy weather. The Diary is sure there must be good reason for the design but it does make an ugly ship.

Going in the opposite direction yesterday was the Lord of the Glens, a small cruise ship - or 'luxury yacht', as the operators term her - carrying a maximum of 54 passengers. Like Celtic King, she's hardly a beauty to look at with her low, furtive lines, but she is a compromise, being built to cope with the open sea and cruising inland waterways, including the Caledonian Canal. More about her here.

On Thursday this RAF Hercules made a low pass along the Sound. It had been lumbering around the skies for a couple of days, on one occasion going in the opposite direction to, and at the same height as a large skein of migrating geese.

We're incredibly fortunate to have the Sound of Mull spread out before us, as its traffic is a never-ending source of interest and, most of the time, it's as beautiful a panorama as one could find anywhere in the world.


  1. Chris G writes
    The Celtic King does look ugly when empty but she is a container ship and would have up to 4 ISO containers stacked on her deck above the gunwale which at 8.5 ft high means the bridge would have to be around 40ft to see over the top. She also has "bridge wings" to see over the side and help with docking. Fully loaded these ships look amazingly top heavy - I assume they have ballast tanks to compensate.

  2. Many thanks, Chris - there's always a logical reason!