Ferry passengers are facing the possibility of more disruption to travel, as the annual drydock programme takes MV Isle of Lewis off the Castlebay Oban route from next Saturday (October 19th).

The Isle of Lewis is heading for Stornoway to run the cross-Minch service to Ullapool while Loch Seaforth is away for her annual overhaul. Meanwhile Barra is to be served by the 35-year-old MV Isle of Arran – smaller, slower and older than the regular vessel.

An amended timetable starts on the Oban/Castlebay route on Saturday, with the Isle of Lewis leaving as scheduled at 7.55am to make her last run to Oban. MV Isle of Arran will then leave Oban at the usual time of 1.30pm but arrive 45 minutes later than usual at 7pm.

From Sunday the MV Isle of Arran will operate an amended timetable daily, but on the winter timetable, so there’ll be no sailings on Thursday or Saturday. The crossing will take five and a half hours and return later each day.

Passengers have reacted with dismay to the news that the Isle of Arran is once again to be their winter replacement vessel. One said: “Can’t believe they’ve given Barra the Isle of Arran for the winter run. Five and a half hours on the Minch in that boat, awful, come on!”

CalMac have apologised for the changes to service, which are scheduled to last until November 9th.

In a footnote to the switchover, MV Isle of Arran’s third officer Marino Giorgetti’s work on board has landed him a prize in an international photography competition. The CalMac crewman's picture (above) of him changing a lightbulb on the main mast of the MV Isle of Arran impressed judges at seafarers' union Nautilus and is now to hang in the union’s London HQ.

Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said the image illustrates how seafarers often work far from home away from families in order to deliver 95% of the world's goods. Marino was presented with his prize at the Nautilus annual general meeting in Rotterdam.