Monday, 20 January 2014

Ships in the Sound

While we've always felt ourselves very privileged to have a house which looks out across the northern entrance to the Sound of Mull and, therefore, gives us a good view of the ships moving up and down the waterway, our view pales against the vantage point of Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse, from which the first two pictures were taken.

It's far too long since the last 'Ships in the Sound', so these pictures date back to October.  The cheerful red ship above is one we often see, the Gripfisk.  She was built in 1997 as a well boat and fish farm service boat for Fosnavaag Shipping, a company which also owns the Viktoria Viking and Viktoria Lady.  Try out your Norwegian at the company's website, here.

Another ship seen rounding Ardnamurchan Point northbound back in October was the CalMac ferry Hallaig.  She's not a ferry we've seen before as she's usually on the Skye-Raasay route, and had perhaps been south for a service or refit.  She passed us on a beautiful October day, with the Island of Coll on the horizon behind her.

Hallaig is the first of Calmac's hybrid ferries, built by Ferguson Shipbuilding in Port Glasgow and launched in 2011.  There's much more about the hybrid ferries project here.

The two ferries which provide the Oban to Coll, Tiree, Castlebay and Lochboisdale services are the Clansman and the Lord of the Isles.  Both of them have been away during the last few months, replaced by the Hebridean Isles, above, so we've been seeing plenty of her.

We've had the usual variety of fishing boats passing us, sometimes in very poor weather.  This is the Geertruida, OB 99, a scallop dredger.  While she's registered in Oban, the better pictures of her - there's one here - show her tied up in east coast ports.

In a period which hasn't seen much in the way of exciting traffic in the Sound, we've had the usual selection of cargo boats passing us.  The Fri Porsgrunn, seen here on passage to Wismar with a cargo of timber, is a Norwegian ship registered in Gibraltar and launched in 2000.  She has strengthened holds and hatches to take heavy cargoes.

The Wilson Emms has an unusual design, with her bridge raised on what look like stilts, her funnel set very low behind it, and virtually no superstructure.  There are simple but interesting plans of her here, which show how basic is the design of modern ships; the only thing missing is any indication of where the crew are quartered - or perhaps she doesn't need any.  Despite its name, Wilson Ship Management is a Norwegian company, and the Ems is registered in Barbados.

The nearer ship, the Abis Duisburg, is a large offshore tender capable of carrying heavy loads to, for example, North Sea oil rigs.  Built in 2013 and owned by the Dutch company Abis Shipping, she's registered in Holland.  There are more details of her here.

Passing her going south is the Stephanie M, a trawler registered in Newry, Northern Ireland, one we've seen on several occasions before.

This ship is called the Lysblink Seaways, another ship which labours under a sadly impersonal name.  Long-time readers of 'Ships in the Sound' will know of the Diary's dislike of such names, particularly when they refer to good-looking and workmanlike ships.  She - or perhaps 'it' - is seen passing the fish farm in Bloody Bay.


  1. The ability to raise and lower the bridge deck as on Wilson Ems is a feature of European inland cargo vessels. Many modern Rhine barges will be seen to have this versatility. It allows the skipper to see beyond any empty containers stowed on deck, and yet pass under solid bridge structures. The any crew quarters are in the forepeak. Seeing one prepared to operate along the North Atlantic coastline in winter has to be considered slightly unusual. Maybe it carries lightweight wind turbine parts ?

  2. Hi Jon,
    When you saw the Hallaig it was heading to Raasay to start trials there. Although she was launched a while ago, she was recently finished and was still doing extensive sea trials. She is now in service.
    The Wilson Emms looks like a type you see on European rivers, The wheelhouse lowers and the mast swings down to pass under bridges. Might be called a Rhinelander?

  3. Many thanks to both of you for explaining the Emms' design. It had never occurred to me that she was designed to go under canal bridges. Thanks, too, for details of the Hallaig. Jon