Argyll Ferries Gourock-Dunoon service suspended

[02.45 update 25th September – Situation review at 06.00] Yesterday – 24th September, with NE winds gusting to to over 40 knots, Argyll Ferries  suspended its Gourock-Dunoon passenger service from 12.30 until further notice.

There is a complimentary bus service to Western Ferries lat McInroys Point, leaving from outside Gourock Railway Station on the hour and the half hour; and on the Dunoon side, from Dunoon Pier to Hunters Quay, also on the hour and the half hour.

15.05: The situation review now completed sees this service remains suspended until a further review at 1.00.

20.15: Service cancelled for remainder of day.Review at 06.00, Tuesday 25th September.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • Newsie, will this suspension be counted in their performance figures?

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    Simon September 24, 2012 1:04 pm Reply
  • Service is not fit for purpose.
    Complimentary bus service to take passengers to what should be a rival ferry service – you could not make this up!!!

    Proper vehicle/passenger boats is the only answer.

    Please spare me any drivel about a tunnel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Gus Mackay September 24, 2012 1:53 pm Reply
    • Tunnel vision, Gus, is not an asset and do you also think that the earth is flat? Spare a thought for the blindingly obvious fact that a tunnel wouldn’t shut down in bad weather.

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      Robert Wakeham September 24, 2012 2:23 pm Reply
      • The only certainty is that any response from you would be flat.
        It would cost billions to build a tunnel, this Government can’t find the few millions to provide the ferries they PROMISED!

        As a local taxi driver said to me the other day “three mackerel fart and the bathtubs boats are off”, I could not have put it any better myself.

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        Gus Mackay September 24, 2012 3:08 pm Reply
  • Why a tunnel? Why not a bridge?

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    Loki September 24, 2012 3:00 pm Reply
    • Surely a bridge would be vulnerable to severe weather – and would have to span much further than the Forth road bridges, thus being hugely more expensive.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham September 25, 2012 9:42 am Reply
      • What about 2 mini bridges from Rhu to Ardentinney ? then another mini one to Bute? then across Loch Fyne , Barra, and newfoundland! ok miss out the last2!!

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        dblair September 30, 2012 6:53 pm Reply
  • in our lifetime and in the current climate there will be no bridges or tunnels,the problem regardless of the weather is that the current vessels are no substantial enough to cope with typical Clyde estuary weather .Pontoons,bridges,tunnels are not the answer ..better vessels are ,theres no point in having decent shoreside infastructure if you cant get there in the first place.

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    innes craig September 24, 2012 3:06 pm Reply
  • Websites showing actual measured wind speeds are not recording 40knots.

    AFL are off whilst Western, with whom its route crosses half way, continues to operate as normal.

    The AFL bathtubs are unfit for this purpose as was know before the service started as the Ali Cat already had a dismal record for weather cancellations.

    It is ridiculous that a contract was signed which accepts this appauling performance without penalty.

    Larger boats are needed on the route for reliability.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    ferryman September 24, 2012 4:00 pm Reply
    • It is the docking that is the problem, not the seaworthiness; both vessels can cope(at the cost of being vomit comets in heavy weather), but getting them alongside seems to be beyond AF. There is some building work going on at Gourock pier, presumably this is some belated attempt at making the quay compatible with vessels that have been in service for 12 months. Ridiculous.

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      db September 24, 2012 4:17 pm Reply
      • The Ali Cat is restricted to operating is sea conditions that do not cause more than moderate pitching and or rolling. Pitching and rolling are gauged as; easy, moderate, rough, violent. So she should never be a vomit comet. Though I have been out in her when she was pounding which I would rate as violent.

        The windspeeds put out by AFL are also highly suspect. Yes there have been forecasts of gusts around 40mph (for large areas of the country) but if you looked at measured windspeeds in this area they were a lot less. Currently measured windspeeds are between 12-25mph.

        Larger vessels are required on this route it is as simple as that and it always was.

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        ferryman September 25, 2012 9:29 am Reply
        • Having ridden one of Loganair’s BN Islanders, absence of shoogling in the passenger compartment is not a requirement for state subsidy. They used to supply sick bags on the Hoverspeed SRN4s.

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          db September 25, 2012 1:54 pm Reply
          • Absence of shoogling beyond moderate pitching and/or rolling is a legal requirement for the Ali Cat. She should also not set sail if the weather is not fine, clear and settled.

            Who thought a bathtub boat with these restrictions could provide a reliable service on the Firth of Clyde?

            The Argyll Flyer is not far behind in terms of sailings cancelled due to the weather.

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            ferryman September 25, 2012 3:21 pm
  • Ferryman, maybe you’ll know – will this suspension be counted in AFL’s performance figures??

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    Simon September 24, 2012 9:26 pm Reply
    • Simon: The suspension will not count against Argyll Ferries. Under the terms of the contract all the sailings cancelled by the weather will be treated as if they had taken place – whoever wrote the contract should be shot!

      Yes there will be times when weather will stop a service however good the vessel, but the bathtubs are failing to run when Western (with whose route they cross) are operating a normal service.

      The latest from AFL is that the 09:20 from Gourock will depart “weather permitting” – what kind of useless message is that.

      Prior to this service starting I spoke to somebody connected with the ferries. They said you could expect this service to be off completely for 3 maybe even 4 days in a row. They also gave the opinion that most of the public are not aware of how hazardous crossing the Firth of Clyde can be.

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      ferryman September 25, 2012 9:19 am Reply
      • That is AFL suspended again, did it ever restart!!!
        The message is that winds are gusting over 40knots from the North.

        Looking on the Web current actual readings are;
        Campbltown 16mph N
        Glasgow Airport 25mph NNW
        Prestwick Airport 12mph N

        The forecast for the airports is below 40mph for the day.

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        ferryman September 25, 2012 10:15 am Reply
        • Clyde Port Estuary Control at Greenock are giving far more accurate LOCAL wind speeds than the ones your using, ferryman. Squalls are reaching 45 knots and above.

          http://www.windfinder.com/weatherforecast/greenock_mrcc

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          Jim Williamson September 25, 2012 10:31 am Reply
          • The link you sent is showing forecast figures with windspeeds for the day between 18 and 25 knots. It is showing gusts of 40-41 knots between 10:00 – 12:00. The live data from the weather station does not seem to be working.

            The point surely is that AFL have to quote their text “suspended sailings” and that has been the case for about the last 24H at a time when the LOCAL comparible ferry service has a “normal service operating”.

            The bathtubs cannot cope with the weather, larger vessels are needed.

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            ferryman September 25, 2012 12:43 pm
          • If ferryman really was a ferryman, he (or she) would know that a windspeed of 18 to 25 knots was a Force 5 to 6 wind, with gusts of 41 knots equating to a Force 8 or 9. Live data isn’t of much worth (yes, I know I mentione dit myself earlier on) but gives a good indication of what’s happening over and above the forecast. However, it is the forecast conditions that a ferry’s master has to work from and with. As you will know (won’t you, being a ferryman), the passenger certificate is quite specific about ‘forecast conditions’.

            As for your continuing vendetta against Argyll, and the repetitive questioning about why they’re off when Western can still run, it’s all to do with the direction of the wind in relation to the berth. In these north-easterly winds, Gourock Pier is side-on to it. McInroys Point lies straight into it. That’s the reason that Western can keep running when other services are forced to quit.

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            Jim Williamson September 25, 2012 11:12 pm
          • I have no vendetta against Argyll Ferries I am simply pointing out what I take to be self evident that a larger vessel can put to sea in rougher weather than a small one.

            Hence Western run a normal service and generate a profit carrying vehicles while the smaller Argyll Ferries cannot run for days at a time in normal weather.

            The solution of course is for the town centre route to have larger vehicle carrying ferries.

            The ferries do (or at least should) take both actual and forecast conditions into account prior to sailing. However given the short crossing time actual sea conditions are most significant here.

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            ferryman September 26, 2012 1:34 am
        • Force 5 to 6 at 08.00hrs crossing Loch Fyne on Isle of Cumbrae, freshened to 6 to 7 on return at 10.45hrs

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          john in kintyre September 25, 2012 1:58 pm Reply
          • Meanwhile on the Dunoon Gourock route at 15:00 the service remains suspended and will be reviewed in 4 hours time at 19:00.

            This of course is only listed on the AFL website as amber “Journeys may be/are affected” not the more accurate red “sailings cancelled”.

            Yesterday and today will also be be rated as 100% reliability in the performance reports.

            It is all spin designed to mislead those not using the service about its true state. Remember the Transport Scotland announcement that said that the new service would be using bigger boats! Sounded great if you were not here to see the reality.

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            ferryman September 25, 2012 3:13 pm
          • So what is the actual reason for them being off?

            Reason I ask is if you look further down the Clyde then u will see 2 different situations both with larger vehicle ferries, bute has not been affected and boat has sailed all day without disruption due to weather albeit on alert, where as Arran is currently off, it’s got a larger boat than bute and it’s been disrupted due to the weather, it’s all down to the wind direction and what way the piers face with these 2, a larger boat on dunoon run may have suffered the same fate as Arran as they both have similar facing piers roughly

            And I notice ferryman your not a bit averse to some spin yourself, those wind speeds you were quoting was the sustained wind speeds not the gusting wind speeds that afl and calmac are quoting and clearly stating are the gusting speeds yet you claim they were wrong when in fact it was yourself

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            Island boy September 25, 2012 6:45 pm
          • “you were quoting was the sustained wind speeds not the gusting wind speeds that afl and calmac are quoting ”

            I have not found a site that gives live gust speeds. However if the actual wind speeds around Dunoon (Glasgow Airport, Prestwick Airport and Campbeltown) are in the range 12-25mph I am a bit incredulous of persistent gusts in excess of 40knots being reported in Dunoon.

            At the end of the day on Tuesday AFL came clean and said they were sutting down in gusts over 30knots. I was out walking around that time and I would say even that figure was high.

            AFL don’t seem to be quoting measured gust speeds they seem to be using forecasts of what gusts might be.

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            ferryman September 27, 2012 12:31 pm
  • Thanks Ferryman

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    Simon September 25, 2012 11:12 am Reply
    • AFL threw in the towel at 19:04. They finally put the service to red and admitted they were shutting down in NE winds gusting over 30knots.

      That seems a more accurate account of the weather i.e. a strong breeze with gusts of high wind.

      Users now have to wait till 06:00 to find out if the service will be taking them to work/college/airport/hospital tomorrow.

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      ferryman September 25, 2012 10:19 pm Reply
      • AFL said they would review the ferries at 06:00 this morning Wed 26/Sep.

        The first sailing from Gourock is supposed to be at 06:20 and the first from Dunoon at 06:45.

        AFL sent a text at 06:23 saying normal service had resumed! The weather was calm so there was no excuse for not giving ample notice.

        Messages need to be sent in time for people to plan their travel.

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        ferryman September 26, 2012 11:59 am Reply
  • Intended to use 16.50 AF today, had to go for 17.00 WF instead.

    The crossing was such you would not have known you had left Hunters Quay pier as it was so calm.

    I am no expert at judging wind speeds etc. but this crossing could only be described as sailing in a strong breeze with gusts of high wind.

    My return journey tonight on the 22.30 WF was as normal as one would expect.

    Argyll Ferries are contracted to provide a service across the Clyde between Dunoon and Gourock, they are not providing that service when people cannot get to work,college, hospital etc.

    I have no doubt my comments will get the usual thumbs down by the “usual suspects” and anti Dunoon posters on FA, but I make no apology as unlike them I use the ferries

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    Gus Mackay September 26, 2012 12:39 am Reply
  • As i use argyll ferries 5 days a week to get to Glasgow i’m probably well placed to make my points.

    1. On Monday and Tuesday i had to travel on Western ferries, it didnt appear to me to poor sailing conditions in the slightest and was a comfortable journey. The issue being the boats being incapable of docking as there not designed for these linkspans. complete joke really.

    2. I was an hour late for work on Tuesday, the replacement bus service to western doesnt begin until after all the people needing to get to work have left. who the heck organises this? the forecast on monday night was the same as Tuesday morning so it was obvious the boats would be off.

    3. The mcGills bus failed to get on the 7.30 western and having already paid got of and went as a foot passenger. on arrival in Gourock there were no busses along the front so it cost me £14 to get from dunoon to gourock train station.

    4. the issue really isn’t about argyll ferries, It’s about whoever gave the go ahead for the break water/linkspan and most importantly who agreed the contract with argyll ferries, they should be hung in my opinion. As far as i understand argyll ferries are complying with the contracted terms & conditions

    5. However the ali cat isnt safe, i saw somebody slip when the gangway was lifted right of the ground and the same happens with the flyer, it will probably take an accident to make this current situation change.

    6. I also havent seen my young baby awake for 3 days now as a result of leaving early for work and making up lost time when really the sailing conditions are fine. nobodys problem but is probably my biggest gripe this week!

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    Graham Williams September 26, 2012 12:42 pm Reply
    • “most importantly who agreed the contract with argyll ferries, they should be hung in my opinion”

      Absolutely. How can anybody get away with contracting for a ferry service without specifying either the size of vessels to be used or the weather conditions in which they must be able to sail reliably!

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      ferryman September 27, 2012 12:40 pm Reply
  • Reading this rubbish you’d think Argyll Ferries were the only company to cancel sailings yesterday.
    I think you’ll find they weren’t. As suggested in another thread, most ‘Islanders’ accept what has happened, but no Dunoon’s silly FAGs get way over excited.

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    Rog Blake September 26, 2012 7:23 pm Reply
    • It is not accepted because it should not have happened. For two days the service was off when the directly comparable route was running a normal service.

      As a regular user of the formed streaker service I can assure you it would have ben running Mon/Tue.

      The problem is inadequate vessels. I think most “islanders” would most definitely be up in arms if their service was being provided by the bathtubs. For the most part they have decent vessels and if the service is off there is little doubt weather conditions merit it – hence no fuss.

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      ferryman September 27, 2012 12:38 pm Reply
      • Most islanders would give their eye teeth to have alternative ferry services. How many have five or six boats an hour? None! And to suggest that Western runs a “directly comparable route” is disingenious, to say the least.

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        Jim Williamson September 27, 2012 10:22 pm Reply
        • Not for the first time you miss the point, WF run from approx. two miles outside Dunoon town centre to a similar distance from Gourock railhead.

          Argyll Ferries vessels are not suitable for this route as was evident at the beginning of this week.

          People cannot rely on this “service” to get to work. college, hospital appointments etc.

          There seems to be an assumption with posters on here that everyone has a car therefore WF is a good option to travel on. This is not the case.

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          Gus Mackay September 27, 2012 10:43 pm Reply
        • Jim, thats a poor point. There is obviusly a demand for the number of boats the western currently operate per hour. In recent weeks I’ve travelled twice midweek around lunchtime and was qued on to the road at both sides.

          There is also clearly a demand for a town centre to town centre service evidenced by the volume of people who use it dialy. If people cannot rely on the service to commute then it will have a big impact on the town.

          If the recent passenger figures figuresare corect at 130,000 down on the same point last year then you can only imagine a lot of business has been lost for the town. This whole debacle is going to affect a lot more people than the commuters etc

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          Graham Williams September 28, 2012 1:53 pm Reply
  • Rog Blake, your well and truley missing the point, there was absolutely no reason for the service to be cancelled.

    The only issue this week was second rate boats being used(or not used in this case)

    This service is a lifeline for me and has never caused an issue beofre last year. Nobody asked for a half hourley service, this was only introduced to hide the fact there wasnt a suitable boat big enough to carry the volume of passengers

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    Graham Williams September 27, 2012 10:05 pm Reply

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