Comment posted Argyll Ferries statement after meetings with MCA by ferryman.
The MSP has woken up. He is throwing back former statements made by the MD of Calmac about how the passenger service performed well in atrocious weather as being a tad inconsistent with abiding by legal requirements only to sail in fine clear settled weather.
Those that live by spin die by spin.
Those that use the bathtubs know that the reality is the bathtubs performed badly, having to cancel when other services ran to timetable, but even so were having to break the rules.
ferryman also commented
- An article in the Observer indicates that CalMac have never in their history had an improvement notice served on them before.
In the article the MCA ar quoted as saying;
“In summary our findings are that some of the boat-masters were indeed not fully aware of the ‘favourable weather’ condition as endorsed on the Rescue Boat Exemption document”.
The MCA also stated;
“This enforcement action should reduce the possibility of any operation being undertaken outside of the ‘favourable weather’ condition”.
There are three important points here; It is very surprising that the boat-masters did not know of the restriction on the boat they were responsible for. The MCA are describing this as an “enforcement action”, which sounds considerably more serious than Argyll Ferries implication that they just need to tidy up their paperwork. The MCA explicitly mention the favourable weather ‘condition’, and the condition is “fine, clear, settled weather with a sea state such as to cause no more than moderate rolling and/or pitching”.
Why was a bathtub with such a restriction chosen to operate a frequent ferry service year round on the Firth of Clyde?
- The boat-master is responsible for ensuring that he can put to sea whilst remaining within the Law. There are many rules and regulations with which he must comply, he has no choice in the matter.
In this case, based on the MCA statement quoted above, one statutory requirement is that the sea conditions are “fine clear settled weather with a sea state such as to cause only moderate rolling and/or pitching”. The boat-master makes the decision, but if in his professional view these conditions are not being met then he should not put to sea.
It is being reported that the boat-masters told the MCA they were unaware of the condition, which is strange, but no doubt prefereable to saying they were ignoring it.
- Argyll Ferries are telling the truth but not the whole truth. Reading their statement again I am a bit dizzy from the spin.
The AliCat ran alongside the streakers from 2002 till 2011. She sailed less than a handful of times per day and frequently had to cancel due to the weather.
Early in this period there was an incident, to which there were several witnesses including an army major, where a woman claimed she and her child narrowly avoided being killed. Following that event Argyll and Bute council banned the AliCat from using Dunoon pier if waves exceeded 0.5m.(1’7” in old money, so quite small). Nobody actually got killed so in that sense the service was operated safely.
It is the case that the AliCat has the ‘ability’ to operate in waves upto 2.0m. However it is highly questionable that she is ‘suitable’ for carrying members of the general public in such conditions, and the reality is that the skippers do stop operating well short of such conditions.
Argyll Ferries are correct when the they say the Exemption Certificate “permits the vessel to operate without a rescue boat, subject to certain conditions being met.”. However that also means she is not permitted to operate unless she does meet the conditions. One of those conditions is that she can only operate in ‘favourable weather’, and just so that there is no doubt the certificate states that favourable weather is “fine clear settled weather with a sea state such as to cause only moderate rolling and/or pitching”.
When Argyll Ferries state “it is for the boat-master to make a professional judgment, taking into account all factors including current and forecast weather, as to whether conditions are ‘favourable’ and thereby decide if he should sail or not” they correct but are being a bit misleading as the boat-master is having to decide whether or not conditions are “fine clear settled weather with a sea state such as to cause only moderate rolling and/or pitching”.
You will note that Argyll Ferries say that they will comply with all the measures requested by the MCA but do not actually tell us what they are.
It seems crazy that anybody would choose the AliCat to run a frequent service on this route given her history of cancellations and the restrictions she should be operating under. There is a strong feeling locally that the new service has been designed to fail. CalMac have distanced themselves from it by running it via a subsidiary Argyll Ferries.
The crew of the AliCat are excellent, professional, helpful and friendly but they have been given a totally unsuitable vessel with which to run a frequent, reliable service on the Firth of Clyde for the general public.
- Do you have a link to the MCA statement, I am sure it is there I just cannot find it.
- The Argyll Ferries statement is being a bit misleading.
It says the Master must judge if conditions are “favourable”.
However the MCA statement says “favourable” means by statute “fine, clear settled weather with a sea state such as to cause only moderate rolling and/or pitching”.
As a result the the Master is required to judge if conditions are “fine, clear settled weather with a sea state such as to cause only moderate rolling and/or pitching”.
Recent comments by ferryman
- Argyll Flyer in Ardmaleish boatyard
Will the current linkspan works be completed by Friday 21/June?
Working on the linkspan while the Argyll Flyer was having its recent scheduled maintenance would have made sense, but they did not do it.
Bring forward maintenance on the Argyll Flyer by a minimum of 6 months and more than likely 8-9 months seems odd.
Why are they not waiting till September to work on the Argyll Flyer. That is closer to when she is due her maintenance and I hear the Gourock linkspan will be out of action again then?
- Shetland Line remains in legal contention with Scottish Government on Northlink Ferries tender
Regarding the Dunoon Gourock ferry service one of the ‘needs and requirements’ the Scottish Government failed to specify was that the vessels employed could actually operate reliably in the weather on the Firth of Clyde.
How incompetent is that!
- Argyll Flyer spotted going into Ardmaleish yard on Bute this afternoon
The Ali Cat was having technical problems whilst the Argyll Flyer was being maintained recently, resulting in periods of no service.
Following its maintenance the Argyll Flyer was indeed continuing to suffer technical problems.
The linkspan at Gourock is now being serviced with the result that the Argyll ferries is, once again running a reduced service. This happened right through the Dunoon Film Festival.
It is beyond belief that the Argyll Flyer maintenance and the repairs to the linkspan should not have been planned to run concurrently and without clashing with the Film Festival.
- Scottish Government forced to intervene on loose-mouthed Russell gaffe in Campbeltown
JimB asked “why does Dunoon not set out to attract day trippers?”
Dunoon would make an excellent destination for people from Glasgow seeking both Day Tripper and Weekend Breaks.
Why don’t they come though?
Well they certainly won’t drive the long way round, it is too far. There are plenty of other attractive destinations that are closer to home.
A relatively short drive and the pleasant experience of a ferry crossing to the town ought to be attractive, but then we hit the price barrier – £44.50 for a young family of 4 in a car.
Why would people pay that premium to come to Dunoon when they can go elsewhere?
The passenger only service is unattractive because of its unreliability.
What Dunoon needs is a truly competing vehicle ferry services.
- Reminder: Argyll Ferries on ‘refit’ service schedule
The scottish Government has failed to deliver on the transferable ferry tickets it was going to setup. The bus scheme is a bodge that adds anything upto two hours to travel time.
Any news on what they are going to do for Cowal Games or are they just going to try another gamble on the weather.
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