Sunday, 8 November 2015

Ships in the Sound

Usually by this time of year most yachts are securely tucked up at their moorings but there are always a few hardly individuals who have the confidence to sail their boats in the uncertainties of winter. This yacht came bustling past us on a stiff southeasterly breeze on 28th September, but the most recent, heading northwards, passed on 27th October in far worse conditions.

We seem to have seen many more of the Scotline boats with their distinctive, though none too visible, grey hulls. Despite its name and the saltire on the funnel, the company is based in Romford, Essex, with its own terminals on the Medway, but it was founded in Inverness in 1981. They now have eight of their own vessels and manage two others.

This is the first time we've seen the Sea Harmony, a general cargo ship registered in Barbados but owned by another Essex-based company, Saturn Shipping of Braintree. She's managed by a Grimsby company, Torbulk, which claims on its website to, "operate a fleet of vessels capable of carrying between 1500 and 3500 tonnes of dry cargo including hazardous and dangerous goods."

On the subject of dangerous goods, this is the first time I can recall seeing a ship like this pass through the Sound. She's the Mersey Spirit, a small oil products tanker which is licensed to carry Hazard A class products, the top category. She's fairly high in the water in this picture, taken when she passed us on 4th October, but she's precisely the sort of vessel that we don't want in these confined waters.

The new fish farm at Maclean's Nose continues to generate plenty of traffic. For example, Ferguson Transport's Carly has passed to and fro throughout the last month carrying supplies to the salmon farm, probably fish feed. Ferguson's, a very local company, is based at Corpach by Fort William and seems to be going from strength to strength - they recently purchased Skye Transport.

It's called a multicat work vessel and seems to be the marine equivalent of a Swiss army knife, doing everything from pulling up heavy anchors to towing and dive support. Owned by small Orkney company Scotmarine based in Kirkwall, Orkney, the Orcadia II passed us on 19th October going north.

Forth Guardsman is described as a 'self-propelled barge' and is part of Briggs Marine's extensive fleet. Her role is in lighterage, ferrying, and transport of cargo and construction materials in what the company describes as 'placid waters' which, fortunately, the Sound of Mull was when she passed us.

With the busy summer season behind it, CalMac's fleet is being shifted around in order to allow vessels to go off for their annual refit. This is the new Loch Seaforth, built for the Ullapool-Stornoway route, heading south on 28th October. She came into service in February 2015 to replace the Isle of Lewis but immediately experienced teething problems.

This is the Majestic Line's Glen Massan, a small cruise ship which operates in West Highland waters, seen proceeding down Loch Linnhe on a blustery day, picture taken from the Corran ferry. The Glen Massan was the company's first vessel, a wooden hulled Irish trawler which they converted, but they also operate the Glen Tarsan, and are obviously doing well as they are currently building a third, due to come into service in 2016, the Glen Etive.

The Oban-registered Ceol na Mara is seen here hauling creels in Kilchoan Bay. She operates out of Tobermory harbour but isn't always popular on this side of the Sound as she has been accused of laying her creels across those of more local fishermen.

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