Local News for Friday 18th May 2018

More fury over ferry break
There’s been an angry response from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to CalMac’s announcement that the MV Clansman is to return to dry-dock. CalMac said this week that the new propeller shaft, awaited after a temporary repair that took several weeks, has now been delivered, and the vessel will dock again for the replacement from June 1st, returning on June 12th. During this period an amended service will operate on the Mallaig Armadale route and the Mallaig Lochboisdale route will be suspended. The Comhairle has expressed anger and frustration over the implications for the travelling public, local and visiting, at one of the busiest times of the year. Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said, "We were contacted by senior management from CalMac to confirm the scheduling of the dry-docking of the Clansman and what temporary arrangements are being put in place while she is out of use. CalMac has decided to allocate the MV Lord of the Isles on the routes serving Coll, Tiree and Colonsay during this period with the effect that she will not be available to provide a service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale. The alternatives for passengers wishing to travel to South Uist is to use the Oban Castlebay and Sound of Barra crossings or the Uig Lochmaddy crossing. This will undoubtedly be inconvenient for everyone planning travel to and from our islands, and I daresay will not only lead to a number of cancellations, which the tourism sector can ill-afford, and a loss of confidence in these services going forward. This could in turn result in visitors choosing alternative holiday destinations in the future. This is particularly frustrating for those involved in the tourism sector and we are disappointed that all the efforts by the businesses and their representative bodies have been undermined by recent events". CalMac said additional sailings have been organised on the Barra to Eriskay route and the MV Loch Bhrusda will also be deployed on the Skye route to provide additional sailings. MD Robbie Drummond, who visited the islands last week, said: “This is an essential piece of work that we wanted to schedule in before the summer season fully started. We have built a temporary timetable that causes the least disruption whilst maintaining all lifeline services. We fully appreciate the impact this will have on the communities affected. Although it will be frustrating for communities to see the Clansman come back into service and then leave again so soon, this was a preferable option to having her laid up until the new propeller shaft was manufactured, delivered and fitted.” A full scheduled timetable will run again from June 13th.

Second call in a week for new lifeboat
Leverburgh RNLI were out again on Wednesday, after Stornoway Coastguard asked the new lifeboat to help a yacht with a fouled propeller in Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye. The 11.4metre vessel had four people on board when its propeller became entangled in fishing gear. The yacht’s crew were able to anchor and remain in a safe place until help reached them. Leverburgh RNLI and divers from a local fish farm set about freeing the yacht’s propeller and the Lifeboat stood by to make sure the yacht's crew were able to safely embark on their onward journey. This is the second shout in two days for the station’s brand new Shannon Class Lifeboat, which went on service on 2nd May.

Weekend sport
First round Co-op cup matches will be played tomorrow, between Westside and Eriskay at Barvas with an 11am kick-off, 11.15am for Back v North Uist, 12 noon for Barra v Aths (venue tbc), 12.15pm at Carloway against Southend, and 2pm at Benbecula for their meeting with Lochs. Ness are already through to the next round after a win against Iochdar Saints on May 5th. League action resumes on Monday evening, with four matches kicking off at the later summer time of 7pm.

In the shinty, Lewis Camanachd are due to meet Beauly at home at Shawbost and Stornoway Rugby club are also at home, at Bayhead, to Garioch, kick-off at 3pm.