Sunday, 27 March 2016

Ships in the Sound

This month's Ships in the Sound begins with a special 'thank you' to those who send me information about the ships which feature on this regular post. For example, Iain McAllister was kind enough to send me a story about this little ship, the Burhou I, pictured some time ago passing Corran. She was in trouble in Belfast recently - report here. She's a ship I like, an old-style coaster often seen passing through the Sound, a ship which my father might have called a 'tramp' as she doesn't have a regular route, instead carry a variety of cargoes from anywhere to anywhere.

She's an old ship, launched in 1978, and named after an island in the Channel Islands although she's now operated by the Great Glen Shipping Company, website here. Her name, Burhou I, has caused confusion; at least one AIS site calls her Burhoui.

Here's another old friend, the Lysblink Seaways, a close acquaintance from February last year when she stayed with us for a few days. Many thanks to Ivor Lloyd who sent this picture of her. There are reports that the yard at Roseneath bought her for £1million, yet there is still little sign of her being broken up.

It may be a mistaken impression, but it seems that fewer cargo ships are using the Sound than a year ago, though whether this has anything to do with the Lysblink Seaways incident is a moot point.

This is the beautifully named Skog, a ship which, like the Lysblink Seaways, has also been in difficulties recently, in her case in a gale off Orkney back in November - BBC report here. At least she survived the experience to sail another day.

If we're seeing fewer cargo ships, we're definitely seeing more of the sort of vessel I loosely call a work boat. The Northern River is a multi-purpose support ship to the Royal Navy operated by Serco, the type of ship which in the old days would have been a Royal Navy fleet auxiliary. She didn't seem to have anywhere to go in a hurry when she passed here, moving very slowly up the Sound on a calm day.

This is another work boat, the Vortex, seen passing one of the MacLean's creel boats on her way north out of the Sound on her way to Haugesund in Norway. Launched in 2010, she's a British-registered tug owned by Solent Towage and described as, "designed for both escort operations and harbour work, as well as ocean towage. With equipment for oil recovery, FiFi 1 and salvage in open waters onboard she is ready for any kind of operation." 'FiFi 1' refers to her firefighting capacity.

Solent Towage is a subsidiary of a Norwegian firm Østensjø. One of Solent's regular jobs is providing  towage for tankers at Southampton's Fawley oil refinery.

Garblach Mor, the ridge to the south of the lighthouse, is an ideal place to sit and watch ships on a fine day.   In the short time we were there a couple of weeks ago we watched several pass below us. This is Ferguson Transport's Leslie Anne, the fourth of the versatile landing-craft type ships they operate. More about her here.

The well-kept creel boat Eilean Ban, OB998, was another we watched pass by. She's registered in Oban but is reported to work out of Tobermory, though we haven't seen her there.

Another boat we watched was one of Seafari Adventures' RIBs, which operate out of Easedale, near Oban, and Skye. As well as wildlife trips, they take visitors to see the large whirlpool in the Gulf of Corryvreckan.

In the distance is the CalMac ferry Clansman passing the lighthouse on Suil Ghorm to the northeast of Coll on her way to Oban.

With the designation of the Sound of Mull and Loch Sunart as Marine Protected Areas, the Scottish Fisheries Protection vessels have been in much evidence. The Minna has been around, as has this ship, the Jura.


  1. 'Eilean Ban' usually fishes out of Croig, near Dervaig. Kenny Turnbull is the skipper.

  2. 'Burhou I' was bound for Belfast, but detailed at Wicklow.