CalMac captain Alex Morrison is heading home to Melbost, Borve tomorrow (Thursday December 12th), after finishing his last shift aboard the MV Isle of Lewis.

Alex Mòr came ashore at Oban this morning, leaving his vessel for the last time after 22 years as her master and 52 years at sea.

His last shift has been marked by weather disruption and technical difficulties with the vessel, but he has been standing ready to take her to sea as soon as conditions are right – just as he has always done.

Colleagues aboard the MV Isle of Lewis gave him a send-off last night, inviting him down to the bar of the ship for a series of presentations which included a cake and what he described as ‘countless’ bottles of malt whisky.

He was also presented with an original painting by Margaret Maclean of the Isle of Lewis, the Suilven and Lochmor, three of the CalMac ships on which he served.

This morning he told that he was feeling “a bit strange and a little melancholy, just beginning to realise the finality of it all,” as he awaits a formal send-off dinner in Oban this evening. That’s due to be attended by former colleagues, other skippers and senior executives from CalMac, all eager to show their appreciation of a man described by one former crewmate as “one of the best skippers on the west coast”.

News of Alex’s retirement on our sister website and in our current edition of EVENTS newspaper garnered a tremendous response, with thousands reading the details of his impressive career and many responding to news of his retirement.

Comments posted online described him as a ‘great skipper’, a ‘fine gentleman’ and an ‘amazing ambassador for the company’. They included a tribute from a colleague who described his services as: “an impressive achievement! A pleasure to sail under for a few years as I served my CalMac apprenticeship up on the Stornoway run. A character that will be missed in Hebridean waters.”

And a regular passenger from Barra said today: “He has served Barra well in command of the ferry Isle of Lewis. The days when Captain Morrison decides not to sail, not many other vessels will be putting to sea either. I would say a first-class master mariner that knows his ship and the sea areas it serves very well.”

Captain Morrison is pictured berthing the Isle of Lewis in Oban, stopping the engines and signing off the crew sheet for the last time today.

Also pictured is the original painting by Margaret Maclean Art which was presented by his crew aboard MV Isle of Lewis yesterday.