January was a busier month in our local sea lane than December, but by no means exciting. The prettiest picture of the month is this one, of a Scottish clam dredger working her way into one of January's infrequent sunrises - most were lost in cloud.
In late January we had a succession of ocean-going trawlers moving up and down the Sound. This one was typical, the Sligo-based, Polish-built SO718 Western Viking. She isn't pitching: a feature of these boats is that they seem to travel bow-down.
We had some heavy weather during the earlier part of January. The well boat Ronja Viking is seen here fully laden passing the fish farm in Bloody Bay opposite us, probably heading for Mallaig to offload her cargo of salmon.
Over Christmas and the New Year, the big bulk carriers which make their way down the Sound to load aggregate at the huge Glensanda quarry take a holiday. By late January ships like this one, the Yeoman Bridge, seen passing Ardmore light, were back at work. It's a shame that, while she was laid up, someone didn't give her a lick of paint.
We haven't seen this ship before, the Nordness, on her way from Glensanda to Wilhelmshaven. Built in 2001, she isn't a standard bulk carrier but a 'flexible fallpipe vessel'. This means that she can deposit her cargo of aggregate on the sea floor to protect and stabilise things like offshore oil and gas platforms. There's more about her on the Van Oord website, here.
The Celtic Spirit passed us on the 6th January en route to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland. Built in the Netherlands in 1996, she's a general cargo ship with British registration, managed by Charles M. Willie Shipping in Cardiff. She isn't a beautiful vessel but there must be a fine view from the bridge.
The Clansman, one of the two CalMac ferries which regularly ply the routes from Oban to Coll and Tiree, and to Castlebay and Lochboisdale, has been away for some weeks, presumably for her annual service. This is her replacement, the Hebrides, which is usually on the Uig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy service. She's seen here passing the Norwegian-registered fish carrier Caledonia.
We've only seen one RN ship in the Sound this month, the minesweeper M109 HMS Bangor, an old friend, which tried to slip by in the half-light, but....
....while we were climbing a hill we had a distant view of what was obviously a naval auxiliary ship moving north along the coast of Coll. She's the Royal Navy's A387 RFA Fort Victoria, a tanker and shores ship. The biggest of the navy's auxiliary ships, she recently underwent a £47million refit following deployment off Somalia. There's more about her here.