Friday, 7 January 2011

Sunday sailings

On 26 December 2010 and 2 January 2011, Calmac had a ferry calling at Tarbert, Harris. Both those days were Sundays. It was for the first time in history that a ferry had docked at Tarbert on the Sabbath. Calmac have explained that the aforementioned calls were for operational reasons, as not having a sailing on those days would have left Tarbert without a ferry for three days in a row.

It was revealed today that Calmac are conducting a consultation on implementing a Sunday service between Tarbert and Uig (Skye) with the start of the summer timetable on March 27th. Feelings within Harris appear to be divided. However, Calmac now have two precendents on their record where they have introduced Sunday sailings against some local opposition. The first was in 2006, with the Berneray to Leverburgh sailing, and the second in 2009, when the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry began to ply on the Sabbath. It would stand to reason to expect a Sunday service to be commenced on all the legs of the Uig - Lochmaddy - Tarbert triangle. You could argue that Harris residents could drive to Stornoway (40 to 60 miles away) on Sunday, but there is unfortunately no public transport to take non-drivers there on that day of the week.

Some 30 years ago, local fishermen had threatened to blockade Tarbert against a Sunday ferry. The image of a gentleman of the cloth prostrating himself across the Kyleakin slipway in 1965 also comes to mind. Should Calmac send the MV Hebrides into Tarbert on Sunday 27 March, I don't think the ripples will be any worse than those generated by the ferry's entry into East Loch Tarbert.


  1. I was raised in the "free church of scotland"faith,but am now "eglise reforme de france"=presbyterian in scotland.But in this day and age we must move forward.Sunday sailings are necessary,childrens playgrounds must be opened. sorry I digress.

  2. As a lapsed Anglican tending now towards the Silence of the Society of Friends (Quakers) I believe that that the question of Sunday sailings is a matter of PERSONAL conscience and not a matter for interference by any third party. Noone is asking anyone to travel on a Sunday - that is a matter for the would be traveller alone.

    I dare say that there are other valid commercial reasons for introducing Sunday sailings, e.g. the need of passengers to return to work on a Monday. Also, in the case of 'ghost' sailings between Tarbert and Loch Maddy, the imperative of reducing meaningless pollution by the burning of heavy diesel.

  3. Richard, I have compiled an entire blog on a separate site on the storm of 11 November 2005. I did not blog much about the January 2005 storm. The "St Martin's Storm" was captured on [also relayed by email]