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      Uist and Benbecula News

      Barra & Vatersay News

A second delay with annual overhaul repairs to MV Finlaggan in Birkenhead has thrown CalMac a timetable curve ball this weekend.

With the ferry not leaving Merseyside until Friday evening, CalMac has scrapped two planned return sailings to Lochboisdale to allow the MV Isle of Mull to return to the Oban-Craignure ferry route as previously scheduled.

A CalMac spokesperson explaining the rationale said: “That is because our booking system has been configured on the basis the capacity available to travel to Mull from this Saturday is on the assumption that MV Isle of Mull is operating the route.”

Currently, the smaller MV Coruisk is on the route. If it remained in service, approximately 35 vehicles would be left behind on each sailing over the weekend, said the CalMac spokesperson. 

MV Lord of the Isles, operating the Islay service during MV Finlaggan’s overhaul, will resume service to and from Lochboisdale from Sunday afternoon.

The MV Finlaggan is now expected to be delayed by another 24 hours, meaning it will be Sunday (May 19) before the ferry can return to service.

The delay is due to drydock operator Cammell Laird informing CalMac that there had been safety issues with the thermal oil system, which delayed engine testing and upgrading the control and automation system.

CalMac has acknowledged the negative effect on the ferry service to Lochboisdale and warned that not every Saturday and Sunday booking can be accommodated via either Castlebay or Lochmaddy due to the sailings being near capacity. No fuel suppliers were booked to travel at the weekend.

The impact of the timetable changes is as follows:

Lochboisdale 

MV Isle of Mull will operate the Lochboisdale service until arrival in Oban on Saturday (May 18). 

Due to MV Lord of the Isles continuing to support the Islay service, the 13:00 sailing from Oban to Lochboisdale on Saturday and the 09:15 sailing from Lochboisdale to Mallaig on Sunday (May 19) are cancelled. 

MV Lord of the Isles is expected to resume with a 1300 sailing from Oban on Sunday, subject to release from Islay service).

Oban-Castlebay 

Due to berthing clashes in Oban, sailings operated by MV Isle of Lewis will be amended up to and including Saturday. The normal timetable will be in operation from Sunday.


Image credit: Jules Coles