In what is a wonderfully surreal act of assistance, Campbeltown’s Kintyre Express has been zipping to the assistance of the Arran ferry passengers following an incident at around 5.30pm yesterday evening – when the big one had a coming together with the harbour wall at Ardrossan, after getting hit with a 55mph (Force 9) gust as she came in to berth.
She was tied up until the wind dropped and was then able to reverse onto the linkspan and discharge passengers and vehicles.
There have been no sailings between Brodick and Ardrossan today while CalMac have crewed up the relief vessel, the MV Isle of Arran, which is in Campbeltown. MV Caledonian Isles is in dry dock for repairs and should be available for service shortly.
MV Isle of Arran is due to pick up the Ardrossan to Brodick service tomorrow morning (Thursday 16th February), weather permitting.
CalMac do not get nearly enough credit for the way they respond to situations like this. On the one hand they’re literally juggling with boats. On the other, they’re also bringing into alignment a host pf operational factors relating to harbours, piers, routes and the specific embarkation features of available boats.
The Kintyre Express 12-seater fast passenger ferry has today been helping passengers stranded on the island, shuttling from Lochranza in the north of Arran to Ardrossan.
The company got a call this afternoon to ask if they could take a family of 5 from Arran – and it turned out to be a family who own a farm on the island - to the mainland,so that they could make their flight to Florida and in particular Disney Land, where they were holidaying for a couple of weeks.
Colin Craig, MD of West Coast Motors which owns Kintyre Express, says: ‘As you can imagine the caller was very distressed at the thought of missing their holiday. Haydn Chambers (skipper) and Peter Stogdale in Kintyre Express 2 got them off the island at Lochranza at 1630 and took them to Largs, where they were able to make their way to the airport and continue with their holiday.
‘I’m delighted Kintyre Express was able to step in to help but all the credit deservedly goes to Haydn and Peter who literally dropped everything to crew the boat and to Emma and Karina who dealt all the phone calls to make it happen.’
This is the sort of team work that makes the Kintyre Express service so special, Flexibiilty is central and in a business like theirs, going the extra mile is rather a built in feature.
The switch of boats will have been a bit of a change of expectations for the family crossing, with the harbour-bashing ferry carrying around 275 passengers into Ardrossan.
Great image, isn’t it? A leviathan crippled at Ardrossan, while around its skirts shoots the bright speedy little Kintyre Express – fit for pretty well any conditions itself, with its scheduled services on the stunning route from Campbeltown to Ballycastle on the north coast of Ireland.
We understand that there were no injuries in the incident at Ardrossan and the CalMac service will be disrupted only until tomorrow morning when the relief ferry takes over the route.
Correction added above: We had initially accepted that the incident was at 18.30 yesterday but thanks to a commenter below who was a passenger on the boat at the time, we now know that it was happened at around 17.30pm. The rest of our detail has come direct from CalMac and from Kintyre Express, who have good reason to know all about it.