Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ships in the Sound

Taking the ferry to Tobermory to visit the dentist is made far more bearable when there's good company for the crossing on the Loch Linnhe and a ship or two to photograph from sea level instead of the usual, slightly distant view from Orsmaigbeg.  This is the CSL Thames outward bound from Glensanda quarry with a cargo of aggregate bound for Hamburg.

M107 is the minesweeper - or mine countermeasures vessel if you prefer - HMS Pembroke, which, of all RN ships, probably passes us more than any other.  She's the only RN vessel we've seen in some time, a reassurance that we do still have a navy.

From her rugged looks, we thought this might be a RN auxiliary but she's the Polar Pioneer of Aurora Expeditions.  As her name suggests, she was built for Arctic conditions, by the Finnish government as a research ship in 1982, but she's been refurbished as a cruise ship with accommodation for 54 passengers.  Trevor Potts at the Ardnamurchan Campsite, who spends his winters as a guide on Antarctic cruises, says that the polar ships we've been seeing cruise in west coast waters after transferring north early in the summer, waiting for conditions to improve before starting Arctic cruising.

As the polar cruise ships sail north, so we start to see more of the 'normal' cruise ships.  This is the French Compagnie du Pontant's 'mega yacht' Le Boreal passing the more workmanlike local ferry Clansman. She's exactly what she looks - a very modern ship, built in 2010, with accommodation for only 264 passengers.  We've seen her in these waters before, as we have....

....Fred Olsen's Black Watch.  She's a fine-looking ship who carries her age well.  She was built in Finland in 1972 for the Royal Viking Line and was later bought by the Norwegian Cruise Line before being sold on to Fred Olsen in 1996.  She caters for the mass cruising market, while....

....this beauty, the super yacht Rebecca, is in a different league.  Built in the UK in 1999 to German design and recently refurbished, she has accommodation for six guests.  We were disgusted to see her motoring past us on the 20th June when there was a light following wind, but in view of the report here of her grounding on Harris the previous day, perhaps we shouldn't have been so hasty.

And here's another beautiful sight, though she'd have been even more impressive under the full sail the light winds merited.  The Stavros S Niarchos is a British brig-rigged tall ship owned and operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Primarily designed to provide young people with the opportunity to undertake voyages of the character-building type, her operation is subsidised by adult voyages and holidays.  So she probably has a schedule to follow, which gives her an excuse to be motoring.

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