What on earth is this rabid allergy to …

Comment posted Dunoon ferry services: facts and fancies by Robert Wakeham.

What on earth is this rabid allergy to pontoons? anyone would think they were an untried novelty, or an invention of the devil, rather than a proven answer to a very real problem.

Robert Wakeham also commented

  • If (and it’s quite a big ‘if’) your supposition were to be correct, it would be to do with this particular boat and nothing at all to do with a pontoon. You’d be doing yourself a favour by staying within the realms of credibility, if that’s possible.
  • Pontoons can be designed to ‘go up and down’ within strictly defined limits, such that it does not compromise their effectiveness – and gangway movement would be so small as to be almost un-noticeable. I can’t help thinking that there’s a common perception of pontoons in terms of the structures in yacht marinas – which tend to be in sheltered harbours, much lighter and more buoyant, and thus sometimes capable of quite lively movement when hit by the wash of a boat.
  • I’ve got good reason to, if you absorb all the criticism of the ferry service.
  • This makes it sound as if the only sure long-term solution is a tunnel, but I’ll doubtless be shot down by the usual suspects for saying so.
  • The Argyll Ferries website isn’t ‘reporting it as a problem’, it’s your misinterpretation of their use of the term ‘disruption’ that’s the problem. There does seem to be a pattern in your comments of misinterpreting other points of view to put them in a bad light when in fact they’re perfectly reasonable comment.

Recent comments by Robert Wakeham

  • Mountaineers and tourism businesses ask for your support to save Rannoch Moor
    Five hundred 20 ton truck loads of concrete? for each foundation? – are you sure about that, JB?
  • Mountaineers and tourism businesses ask for your support to save Rannoch Moor
    ‘…after which it will be decommissioned if it is not repowered.’ – I get the impression that there is every likelihood that turbines will be replaced, with more efficient and/or larger machines, maybe well within their 25 year lifespan; the history of Gigha’s community turbines, bought second hand from the Haverigg 1 site in Cumbria with eight years’ design life remaining, points to this.
  • Mountaineers and tourism businesses ask for your support to save Rannoch Moor
    A lot of people would doubtless think ‘what real harm is one wind farm in such an enormous landscape?’
    The wind farms in Argyll are mostly widely scattered and generally not ‘in your face’ except for a few unlucky people living in relatively remote places – nothing like the massed ranks of turbines lording it over each side of the M74 around Beattock.
    But go up into the Argyll hills and the perception is rather different – venture up to the An Suidhe wind farm above the A83 near Auchindrain, or to the Meall Mor telecoms cluster above the A83 between Ardrishaig and Tarbert, and you might be surprised at how many giants are lurking in the hills and that’s without contemplating the sort of ‘infill’ that the big boys are planning for the Kilduskland hills around the back of Ardrishaig.
    So I think that one windfarm encroaching on the wide open Rannoch landscape is one too many, that the government has to understand that in some areas enough is enough.
  • Managed protest at Pacific Quay shames pro-indy campaign
    Barking’s the word for it.
  • Managed protest at Pacific Quay shames pro-indy campaign
    I think there were indications of that ‘trend’ in the way that dear Donald Trump’s plans for the Menie dunes were ‘enabled’ – and far more recently and closer to home, the manipulation of Argyll & Bute councillors.

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65 Responses to What on earth is this rabid allergy to …

  1. Where now? isn’t there a strong case for widening the scope of the surely inevitable review to include the Gourock – Kilcreggan and Helensburgh passenger routes, the role of the SPTE, and the integration of trains and ferries at Gourock?
    And given the part that EU regulation plays, there should also be vigorous investigation of what European funds could (or rather, should) be available towards both capital and operating costs, given the important part these routes play (or could/should play) in the economic and social life of the region. Given all that, I’d nominate George Lyon to get stuck in. He knows the area, the people, and what the difference is between a good ferry service and a worse than mediocre botch-up. Who knows, he might even rescue the government from becoming the laughing stock that it deserves to be if it doesn’t wake up to the notion that there’s more to the economic health of this country than promoting golf developments for the wealthy.

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  2. Like it or not, I think your article spells out all the relevant facts, and puts them into perspective. You have stated that Dunoon and Cowal have a ferry transport system to be envious of (with the need for some improvements). Enjoyed the article Newsroom.

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  3. The Gourock and Dunoon pontoons, estimated at £4 million are on the ‘shovel-ready’ SNP gov wish list that is being demanded of the Coalition Westminster Government.
    Expensive pontoons will not require many,if any shovels or help the 2 cruise tub boats get from one pontoon to the other pontoon.
    As a ‘woodentop’ and a ‘fantasist’ who would rather be called (rightly) a member of the Dunoon/Gourock Ferry Action Group campaigning for what was promised in 2007 by Jim Mather….two passenger and car ferries with no restrictions on their timetable service accessing the link span in Dunoon for Ro Ro ferries.
    A safe,frequent and reliable vehicle and passenger ferry service from Dunoon Town Centre to Gourock Rail Terminal is the DGFAG objective….. especially for the 30% of people living in Dunoon and Cowal who do not have access to a car.

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    • David: there’s surely a mismatch at Gourock between what’s fit for vehicles using the existing linkspan and what’s fit for passengers headed to & from the train – and as you say yourself 30% of the population don’t have a car.

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      • Part of the problem at Gourock is the distance that the train station is from the ferry terminal. In itself, that’s not a new issue, but the recent rebuild of the station just emphasises the lack of joined-up thinking that the various transport bodies have in this country.

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        • That’s surely where the SPTE should have been able to plan for, and ensure, effective coordination between train and ferry.
          Unless there’s a recognised plan to install a pontoon at the station end of the platforms, it would appear that the SPTE either isn’t involved in public transport coordination at Gourock or is just plain useless.

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          • But SPT no longer have any authority over the trains,it would have to be a joint Transport Scotland and Argyll Ferries initiative.

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          • AWS right enough, but it’s surely complicated by SPTE being involved with the Gourock – Kilcreggan ‘service’ – are they not involved at all with the Dunoon route?

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          • No, I believe for Statutory Regional Transport Partnership purposes Dunoon is the responsibility of HITRANS, within Argyll & Bute SPT only have responsibility for Helensburgh & Lomond. This is slightly complicated by the fact that HITRANS are responsible for the Clyde Ferry User Group, which includes the Kilgreggan – Gourock service.

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  4. Point of fact. The Ali Cat would have required a Class 4 certificate before Argyll ferries started up. It would have needed it to do the runs to Loch Striven when it was carrying BBC people to and from the Maersk raft berthed there a couple of years ago as the loch is beyond Class 5 winter limits, and the runs were done between January and March 2010.

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    • Jim – we understand that Ali Cat had a Class 4 – and had to have it – when she was doing the runs to Loch Striven but that otherwise, working between Gourock and Dunoon – Class 5 waters – she didn’t need it.
      The issue is complicated by the fact that the demarcation between class 5 and 4 waters changes between Summer and winter.
      It’s the waters that dictate the licence which is why the Ali Cat was exposed to the discrepancy on Class 4 MCA exemption certificate because the government had not clarified with the MCA that the winter line should run to the new linkspan.

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      • It is not complicated. The new linkspan is in Category D waters in the winter (November to March inclusive) that requires passenger vessels to hold Class IV certificates.

        Interesting idea you had though Newsroom about moving the line for the categorisation of waters.
        Category C waters, which Western’s route is currently defined to be in, should not be expected to have waves exceeding 1.2m at any time.

        If you use Western ferries then the waves seem to be a wee bit bigger than that at times. That is certainly the case when they are having to sail backwards with part of the deckspace kept empty and the waves still pound into your car.

        I think the Western vessels only hold Class V certificates (could be wrong on that) which is fine for Category C waters. However if the waters were recategorised to D then they would need to have their vessels recertified.

        Be careful what you wish for Newsroom when you suggest the line can be moved to make life easier for Argyll Ferries – the result may not be what you expect and could have significant consequences.

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  5. The usual newsroom soapbox piece masquerading as a news article.
    It is hard to know where to start picking it apart as there is so much wrong.
    “From the evidence, it was clear that an unsubsidised vehicle service on this route was not financially viable.” – incorrect. Both the EU investigation and the published accounts of the Streaker Service showed that the vehicle potion of the old service (despite being hamstrung in numerous ways) was operating unsubsidised as required by the EU regulations.
    “This was borne out by the fact that no commercial interest in providing such a service emerged from the tendering process.” – icorrect. The SNP went back on their promise to supply 2 vehicle ferries. All the tender showed was that a 6 year contract would not permit operators to recover costs of new vessels, and that vessels could not be provided in the timescales needed.
    “Both boats – the twin-hulled MV Ali Cat and the monohulled Argyll Flyer – were built for side access from pontoons.” – incorrect. A linkspan is superior to a pontoon in every way. It is true that it is easier if the vessels don’t have to dock stern on. However next week Argyll ferries will be running to the old pier and using side access to its linkspan, no need for pontoons at a cost of £2M in Dunoon.
    There is a lot of comparison between sailing times, buses and so on. The EU ruled that, for passengers, the town centre route could not be adequately replaced by Western/McGills. That is why the town centre route is allowed to be subsidised.
    “These ferry services also keep Dunoon and the Cowal peninsula free of the loss of access and egress that the rest of Argyll suffers when the arterial A83 road is closed with one of its landslides.” – Correct!!! However you omit to point out that the Government has allowed the vital vehicle crossing of the Firth of Clyde to become a private monopoly with no control over fares/profits.
    “Dunoon has a formal Ferries Action Group and supporters dedicated to pursuing three objectives” – incorrect. Their sole objective is; “Campaign to ensure the Government delivers a frequent, safe, reliable, vehicle & passenger ferry service from Dunoon town centre to Gourock rail terminal. Thus providing resilience, diversity and competition for cross Clyde transport to Cowal and beyond.”
    “Until then, the route will have to be served by the Ali Cat and the Argyll Flyer.” – incorrect. Contracts can be changed and cancelled. The current contract has already been changed at least once. There is a letter in the Observer today where CalMac say there are helping work towards putting a larger boat on the route at least over the winter – not before time.
    There is a lot of discussion about finances. Alex Neil is commissioning a financial review – why not wait until the results of that are known, it will be far better informed than any debate here.
    RET, who mentioned RET? It is a scheme put forward by the Government, no doubt whether or not it is applicble will be covered in Alex Niel’s review. Certainly if there is only one vehicle ferry service on the route they should look at some way of capping its profits at a fair level. I think most people just want competition on the route.
    “The need for the exemption is that, on the Scottish Government’s instructions, Argyll Ferries had to register the Ali Cat as a Class 4 boat.” – incorrect. Argyll Ferries operate in category C waters in the winter months. As a result they are required by UK legislation to have Class IV vessels.
    “all the Scottish Government had to do was ask the MCA to take the winter line to the new linkspan but it omitted to do so.” – incorrect. A very interesting point though. The existing line could be moved, but that would involve monitoring wave heights etc. So newsroom (aka soapbox), what do you think the effect of such an exercise would be? I’ll give you a clue – they had to build a breakwater. As somebody who has used the ferries for several years I would hazard a guess that the line would not move south, as you suggest, but considerably further north. In other words Western might find itself operating in Category C waters in winter which might have signifcant impact on their operations.
    A slightly hysterical article riddled with bias and inaccuracy – you will not get your cub reporter badge if you carry on like this newsroom.

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    • ‘A slightly hysterical article riddled with bias and inaccuracy’ – and you’d have us believe that’s an impartial judgement from someone who’s careful to avoid hysteria, bias and inaccuracy, ‘ferryman’?

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      • I don’t run a blog dressed up as a news service. Though to be fair forArgyll do state they don’t attempt to give a balanced view and are giving their opinion.

        I think often they just punt out provocative nonsense because they know it will result in more comments and hits on the website.

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        • You might not run a blog but that doesn’t absolve you from assuming the role of ferry expert and then presenting some rather dubious notions as fact.

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          • Unlike Newsroom (aka soapbox) I try to provide substantiated facts. If I cannot do so I indicate my uncertainty. Where I am giving opinion I try to make that clear.

            Presumably that means I should get the press badge that forargyll does not have?

            Can you please point to anywhere I have tried to pass of incorrect information as being factual?

            I have just pointed out numerous factual inaccuracies in a forargyll piece, as yet I have not seen any response attempting to argue they were correct.

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  6. Look in the mirror Mr Wakeman. If any one is presenting dubious notions as fact it’s yourself and For Argyll who seem to think that blissful ignorance is a substitute for expertise.

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    • Not true, Kay Bee – you just demonstrate your own ignorance (or is it blinkered intolerance?) and your negative comments really don’t help the cause of seeking decent ferry services.

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      • My ignorance born of living in this area since 1939! Sailed these waters for over 60 years. Been in the Royal navy have a commercial endorsed Yacht master licence. Have used every type of boat that has ever been used on the Clyde from Clyde steamers to the Maids, to the first car ferries to WF ferries to these dreadful totally unsuitable boats for what is classified as a lifeline service because The Peninsula we live on has been classified in European law as equivalent to an Island and the ferry service classified as an Essential Public Service. If you were to understand anything about this subject then you might have some useful comments to make. Rather than your own ill educated maunderings.

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        • An impressive pedigree, such enormous maritime experience makes some of your comments all the more puzzling – perhaps your high self-regard has bred a degree of arrogance that leads to intolerance. Tell me which notions you consider dubious and I’ll try and justify them; no guarantee that you’ll understand, but I can but try.

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  7. The Ali Cat and the Argyll Flyer will – barring an act of God of some description – see out the current Argyll Ferries contract.

    This is accurate and we have shown the precise evidence why – legally and financially – it is the case. It has also been confirmed with Argyll Ferries.

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    • But not I fear if Alex Neil is to be believed and he should know He is after all Argyll Ferries ultimate Boss. Most of what you write newsroom is inaccurate, unresearched piffle. Clearly you have no journalistic training whatsoever. Educate yourself to the Clyde its history, the sea states, winds, the codes by which these vessels have to operate. Talk to people who are forced to use them to get to work when they are operating. Try to use Western Ferries to get to an appointment in Inverclyde by turning up on time for the last boat possible to get you there on time. Arrive close to the time of its scheduled departure and you will be very lucky if you can get on it. WF are not coping with the increased traffic they are now getting. Gourock is up in arms at the congestion created when a WF ferry comes in. Read responsible journals both online and in print to understand the facts.

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  8. Ferryman – “I think often they just punt out provocative nonsense because they know it will result in more comments and hits on the website”. Agree 100%. But isn’t it the truth that this blog has become pretty predictable and rather boring? Somewhat of a snorefest of epic proportions… :)

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    • I agree with you. But there is a serious problem here. forargyll projects itself as a news and information service, which it is not. People reading the blog may well be mislead into thinking its opinions are an accurate reflection of the way things are.

      I would really much rather not waste my time refuting the drivel foragyll comes up with regarding the Firth of Clyde ferries but it is so important to so many people that it cannot go unchallenged.

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  9. @newsroom – although I have no idea if your figures and all your facts are correct, you have listed all the probable scenarios which will affect any action that the government may take. The subsidy one relating to increased costs if vehicle ferries were to be used, is a very interesting one. Yes, some do not like your article, but even with the mistakes, it does paint an interesting picture.

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    • We would be interested to see any substantive challenge to any specific facts and evidences we have published.

      The ‘rhubarb’ responses to uncomfortable evidence are predictable but this blinkered entrenchment is harming Dunoon.

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  10. Newsroom is entitled to her view of any issue or individual in Argyll or elsewhere. However , unusually, I want to add three comments to this story which are mostly facts that I would have been delighted to give to Newsroom at any time h and which might cast a different light on some aspects of this the matter.

    1) The regular breach of the Ali Cat’s exemption certificate was first noticed by Captain Sandy Ferguson, the former Marine Superintendent of Cal Mac. His view – as a senior and very experienced mariner of many years standing – was that this was a serious and indeed grave issue which potentially affected passenger safety. He remains of that view, I understand, and this opinion backed up by many years of actual seagoing is given veracity by the fact that the issuing of an “Improvement Notice” by the MCGA to a vessel within the Cal Mac fleet (albeit operated by a subsidiary) is an exceptionally unusual occurrence and may be unique.

    2) When Captain Ferguson brought the issue to my attention in late May I was honour bound to raise it with the company and the relevant Minister. I did so immediately – in fact within an hour of meeting Captain Ferguson. However from that date until early July I have tried to resolve the issue without publicity. It was the failure of Cal Mac to take the matter seriously – when raised by Captain Ferguson (from February onwards) myself or the Ferry Action Group – which eventually meant that I had to raise it publicly. I also believed that the offensive threat of legal action made to Captain Ferguson when he raised the issue in a constructive letter to the Chief Executive of Cal Mac was wrong and that Capt Ferguson deserved an apology. I still do, and am still pursuing that with the Chief Executive and the Chairman.

    3) This whole matter was and is an issue for the company to resolve, as the company has contracted to provide the service. My purpose in raising it with Government was to ensure that all facts were known by Government and that information was being built to judge whether the contractor was providing the service according to the conditions agreed. I had previously indicated I had doubts about that, as my constituents also have. That does not mean I sign on to any campaign or manifesto from any other individual or organisation nor does it mean that I am in irresolvable conflict with either the company or my colleagues in government. I am simply doing what I was elected to do last May, when local people chose me as their constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament.

    I will be meeting the Board of Argyll Ferries in mid August, at their request, and I will continue to pursue the issue of safe transport on all routes in my constituency. That is my job and I make no apology for doing so.

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    • Come on Mike, “The regular breach of the Ali Cat’s exemption certificate”. If this was true and given the focus on this service, then the MCA would have shut down the service in line with their treatment of the Kilcreggan service. This could also have had serious implications for all of Cal Mac’s routes. The fact is that they haven’t, as bourne out by the MCA’s statement.

      You also say that ” potentially affected passenger safety”. Remember that this company is owned directly owned by your Government, therefore are you suggesting that your own company would operate in such a way? Cal Mac have a wonderful approach to safety and a boss who is keenly focused on this.

      “It was the failure of Cal Mac to take the matter seriously”, Cal Mac would simply never dismiss any issues with regards to safety. If there were any real safety concerns I am sure that Cal Mac would have stopped this service in an instant long before the MCA or your involvement.

      Please stop this, for everyone’s sake. Again if there were any issues with regards the Ali Cat operating on this route, why was the tender given to Argyll in the first place by your government?

      Moreover if they have, and I very much doubt that they have, been operating as per your statement, and you have known about this for a year and are only meeting with them in August, then I suggest that you, Cal Mac, Transport Scotland and your Ministerial colleagues may all be in same rowing boat heading up the same creek.

      If you are wrong and CalMac have been operating in due regard to regulations, then I suggest that you apologise swiftly.

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      • Make no mistake this was an extremely serious breach.

        What the MCA found was that vessels under the control of CalMac were operating without their Masters being in full understanding of the conditions imposed upon their vessels.

        For a company of the size and standing of CalMac to be found in that position is very serious as it calls into question their entire compliance and safety regime.

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    • These ferries, both of them, are simply not fit for use for the purpose for which they are being put. Partly this has been covered up by ignoring the fact that the AliCat should not put to sea in conditions that are not “fine, clear and settled”. What is extremely serious thought is that the Masters of the vessels were not aware of this restriction , they in turn were responsible to CalMac and ultimately Scottish Ministers (e.g. Mr Russell) who are responsible for overseeing the safety regime

      Transport Scotand accepted the AliCat as being a suitable vessel to provide a frequent year round ferry service. Given that it had a restriction to operate only in “fine, clear and settled weather”, and that this is the West Coast of Scotland what exactly were Transport Scotland and Scottish Ministers thinking about?

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      • Ferryman, you’ve been going on about this at length, for some time, and – while there clearly seems to have been a misunderstanding about the prescribed operating limits of the boats – are you really implying that the skippers are rubbish and putting the lives of people at risk?
        Or are you just indulging in a seemingly self-perpetuating whinge of epic proportions?

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        • The waters in these parts are not forgiving.

          The MCA stated that Masters of the the vessels operating this route were unaware of the conditions under which they should be operating.

          That really is very damming.
          Calmac oversee this operation so it their procedures that are called into question.

          Is the position that Masters of the CalMac fleet do not know the conditions under which they operate?

          Do you dispute the factual accuracy of this?
          Do you dispute the MCA statement?

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  11. Glad our MSP has contributed to the discussion. Is it not criminal that Argyll Ferries have continued to break the law, and put the general public at risk, by continuing to disregard what has been pointed out to them? Why is the MSP not ensuring that criminal charges are being pursed if this is in fact the case?

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    • Who says that Argyll Ferries broke the law? A retired company employee who has been part of the group that tried to tell everyone that the car ferry operation had to stay on place, or the regulatory body that oversees the operation of the current service? The MCA appears to be reasonably happy with the way things are otherwise they would have stepped in with big tackety boots and tied the Ali Cat up, just like they did with the Kilcreggan ferry.

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      • The MCA decided that the Masters of the vessels opertate by Argyll Ferries, who are controlled by CalMac, did not know what the law was!

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  12. Thank you for providing the vehicle which gives the opportunity for comment on important current issues which impact on the area.

    In contemplation of the confusing and conflicting conglomeration of complaints, criticisms challenges and corrections continually conveyed about the “facts” with regard to the ferries a thought comes to mind. There just has to be a correct version.
    However, in the unlikely event of that appearing, and universal acceptance of such, please consider the following in any equation.

    Some people are scared of sailing. I know those who preferred the former Cal Mac boats on the Dunoon route because they were more than apprehensive about sailing on Western Ferries. For these people the prospect of using Argyll Ferries is a nightmare. There is no chance they will use the service in anything more than a light breeze if that. Whilst difficult to quantify I believe this may well be significant to the extent that it is an unacceptable service.

    The Castle House Museum, Dunoon has video of Ali Cat and the Argyll Flyer in summer which is very uncomfortable viewing to such people and they cannot watch it. For others, of course, such journeys have their attractions. Every ferry service has it moments and I well remember a near five hour Gourock – Dunoon crossing on Cal Mac.

    What is very worrying and is difficult to quantify is the impact of the information given out at time of bad weather. Consider those intending to come to the Dunoon area. Strangers are entirely different from local residents who know and can assess the situation.

    I have heard the announcements that Argyll Ferries is not running (and have looked out the window and seen that they are). Danger is that there is an assumption that this is taken to mean ALL ferries and intending visitors may consequently change their minds.

    An alternative journey by road, by virtue of the same weather suffers from the same dubious warnings of the likelihood of landslide risk on the Rest and be Thankful. This conspires to strike Dunoon off the tourist map for at least that day maybe more. Would you bother if you had this uncertainty?

    This is simply a travesty for any tourist destination. The time is now for any obstacle, no matter how small, to Dunoon’s and Argyll’s future welfare to be removed.

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  13. forargyll please try to earn your reporters badge.

    Argyll Ferries are reporting “disruption” to their services because the ferries will be using Dunoon’s historic old pier.

    Not only does this revitalise the old pier which is a listed building, and which has superior facilities to those currently on shore, it is actually easier for the vessels to dock there thus negating the need to spend £2M on pontoons that do what ?

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    • Before she sailed for Argyll Ferries, MV Ali Cat had serious problems berthing at the pier in Dunoon, in attempting side embarcation and disembarcation by gangway. She then embarked and disembarked at the slip, which was hardly ideal.

      The old pier is not appropriate to her intended embarcation and disembarcation – with a fixed deck requiring flexible angle gangway access, where pontoons offer identical access between deck and boat whatever the tidal state.

      The issue you need to address is that if you campaign intelligently, you should be able to get pontoon access at both destinations – which would make berthing straightforward and comfortable for all concerned.

      Whatever you do, for the legal and financial reasons we have laid out quite plainly, you are not going to be able to get a second vehicle ferry service nor, failing an act of God, can you get new passenger ships within the life of the current Argyll Ferries contract.

      Our concern is that the sheer legal and fiscal ignorance in this campaign is doing real damage to Dunoon in casually undermining, through scaremongering, public confidence in ferries; and, by obstructing achievable improvements like pontoons -which would make things very much better – keeping the service less than it might be and condemning the town to continuing foolish ferment.

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      • Okay so what you are saying is that the bathtub chosen by Transport Scotland had serious difficulties using the historic pier.

        Then it was contracted that she use the linkspan at the breakwater where apparently she has also has serious difficulties.

        Your suggestion is to spend £2M to put in pontoons at which no doubt the AliCat will have serious difficulties berthing?

        Get a grip here. Neither of the current bathtubs are remotely capable of handling the weather on this route reliably.

        Rather than spending serious money tinkering with dubious “pontoons” why not buy some credible ships that are an asset for the area?

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        • What on earth is this rabid allergy to pontoons? anyone would think they were an untried novelty, or an invention of the devil, rather than a proven answer to a very real problem.

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    • Ferryman – Yes the old pier has better passenger waiting facilities – whether the passenger boarding facilities are ok I don’t know – they weren’t for the ‘streakers’, and pontoons could well be an improvement if the ‘disrupted’ facility next week doesn’t match up..
      It might have escaped your notice that Argyll Ferries have adopted the same website format as Calmac, so just about any departure from the norm (including local roadworks) gets tagged as ‘disruption’ and can be rather misleading.

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      • As somebody who actually uses the ferries I would expect that their performance over the next week using the linkspan at the historic pier will be superior to that at the linkspan at the breakwater.

        That should be self evident because it is far easier for the ferries to come alongside at the historic pier.

        So what exactly would pontoons add in Dunoon apart from a pricetag of £2M?

        Also why exactly is the Argyll Ferry website reporting this change as a problem? As a regular user of the ferries I welcome it.

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        • The Argyll Ferries website isn’t ‘reporting it as a problem’, it’s your misinterpretation of their use of the term ‘disruption’ that’s the problem. There does seem to be a pattern in your comments of misinterpreting other points of view to put them in a bad light when in fact they’re perfectly reasonable comment.

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  14. In my opinion pontoons are not the answer.

    When the Flyer crosses the Firth and passes McInroys Point, even though she must be a mile away she causes the Western ferries to bobble up and down despite being locked onto the car ramp at the time.

    You would need pontoons with a larger displacement than the current car ferries to achieve the desired effect on embarkation.

    The problem at Dunoon is that the boats have to manoeuvre in a confined area over their own wash. While the pontoons might be the same height above the water as the boats’ deck, since waves travel across water while going up and down the pontoon and the boat would not go up and down at the same time. Even once you have disembarked onto the pontoon the gangway to the land will be moving also.

    The problem with the Flyer could be reduced by allowing her to travel across at her original design speed which should reduce the wash generally except that there is a speed limit on the Firth (12.5 knots I think) which prevents this. A higher speed would allow her to go further south, round the Gantocks before slowing down. The area behind the breakwater should then be calm as she enters it at low speed. This longer route would increase fuel consumption slightly.

    Since the AlliCat already travels at max speed (as far as I am aware) I see no solution to her problems.

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  15. Pontoons can be designed to ‘go up and down’ within strictly defined limits, such that it does not compromise their effectiveness – and gangway movement would be so small as to be almost un-noticeable. I can’t help thinking that there’s a common perception of pontoons in terms of the structures in yacht marinas – which tend to be in sheltered harbours, much lighter and more buoyant, and thus sometimes capable of quite lively movement when hit by the wash of a boat.

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    • The Flyer at approx 200 tonnes would chew a pontoon up. A more reliable mooring would be against mid-ship piles with a vertically adjustable midship embarkation.

      The tidal range is 4 mtrs which would also make designing for such a movement (of the gangway in a pontoon) difficult even if you were to overcome the punishment such a vessel would inflict on a pontoon.

      Contrary to another’s opinion, the Flyer is a very sturdy and well equipped ship and is no bath tub.

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        • The Flyer is responsible for a substantial percentage of the cancellations. There is nothing basically wrong with either vessel if they are used for a task to which they are suited. They are not fit for the purpose of running a frequent ferry service on the Firth of Clyde carring the general public.

          The root cause of the problem here is penny pinching. They have tried to run the passenger service at the lowest possible cost and come unstuck.

          The Ali Cat needs to obey its sailing restrictions, or have a rescue boat fitted to remove the restriction. If she is too small to carry a rescue boat then they just need to use a larger boat.

          To be reliable both boats need to be considerably larger. The bathtub service was disrupted again at the weekend. No doubt there was more exterme (normal) weather.

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          • Before you wax overly lyrical about the Waverley – lovely boat as she is, her docking record makes Ali Cat look boringly reliable.
            Waverley has a history of heavy dockings – and on one amazing summer (2008) she managed to damage two piers on the south coast of England on two successive days – one on the mainland, Worthing Pier and one on the Isle of Wight, at Yarnouth.

            http://forargyll.com/2008/09/and-the-waveley-hit-two-piers-down-south/

            Both of these were in September 2008 and a month later her last cruise in the Clyde was disrupted.

            http://forargyll.com/2008/10/waverleys-last-2008-argyll-cruise-disrupted/

            She’s a lovely boat where Ali Cat is a dog, so to speak – but Ali Cat is not an unsafe boat and Waverley does have some injuries to her record in another heavy landing at a Clyde pier that saw some elderly passengers taken to hospital.
            If you’re interested – technically, the Waverley’s docking difficulties in wind arise from her very nature, The water flow from the side paddles does not engage the rudder directly, making her hard to steer with any precision in certain wind states.

            ‘Be careful what you wish for’.

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  16. We should all be very glad that we are not relying on Dunoon’s new linkspan for vehicular services this week, as there is a large crane, and scaffolding round the structure. Obviously major repairs being carried out – and it has never ever been used for a vehicle service!

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    • Its a crying shame it has never been used. Perhaps the EU should ask for their money back as they provided part of the funding didn’t they.

      The SNP have never given an explanation on why they went back on their manifesto commitment to deliver two vehicle ferries. If they had just delivered their promise it would have saved a lot of grief.

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  17. Has it not been used by Western Ferries to make sure it works…by the Waverley which has a history of damaging itself and piers….and people fishing.

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  18. The Argyll Flyer has been using the historic pier. It is obviously much easier for her to come alongside that at the new linkspan. Boarding by the side the entrance is low and narrow and they are using a terrible gangway, all problems that would apply equally to a pontoon though.

    So, job done, £2M saved, no need wasting further time discussing pontoons in Dunoon.

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    • If (and it’s quite a big ‘if’) your supposition were to be correct, it would be to do with this particular boat and nothing at all to do with a pontoon. You’d be doing yourself a favour by staying within the realms of credibility, if that’s possible.

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