Well that’s me on the MV Hebrides at last, after a couple of ‘false starts’, and I’m straight ‘in at the deep end’ so to speak.
Leaving an empty house at Arnish just past 7:00am and saying goodbye to the herd
on a day that felt more like winter than winter did.
After the calm, sharp, cold mornings and easterly breezes of late, this zephyr from the north with it’s dusting of snow on the Pipers Rock above Torran seemed strangely incongruous. Probably not to many readers right enough, having seen recent TV footage, but it certainly felt odd here.
Hardly anything to get concerned about, having seen what others have gone through, but certainly unseasonal when one is optimistically awaiting the arrival of the cuckoo.
No sooner had I arrived at Sconser and the Irish mountain of ‘stone from Donegal’ that I was informed that the Hebrides would be late I seemed destined not to join this ship
Passing the Sligachan hotel the search for the 33 year old hiker missing for a couple of days was just resuming, with the Coastguards Sikorsky S-92 just taking off.
I checked last night on the internet around midnight and there was as yet no news.
It was certainly a major operation with teams from Mull and beyond.
Eventually however I managed to catch up with CalMac’s second largest vessel
the MV Hebrides, the third I think to bare that name.
Anyway, after ‘signing on’ and having an introduction to the vessel her fire fighting and safety equipment I was sent to bed!!! Not for being a ‘naughty boy’ but to assist with the ‘night watch’ on account of the extra sailings to clear traffic. So at 23:30 I was aroused from my slumber, given instruction on what to do and left in the safe hands of the regular night watchman and pier master. Normally one night watchman would suffice but tonight, due to an ‘issue’ with the gangplank, the ramp would have to stay down.
So, in the interests of stopping any rats scampering aboard or would be terrorists I was put on ‘guard duty’
A not unpleasant task as it gave me chance to wander around the vessel further familiarising myself with the 109 portable fire extinguishers and 38 ‘call points’. Somewhat more than Loch Striven carries I also had the pleasure of watching the sunrise, something that escapes me at Arnish thanks to the rocky backbone of Meall Dearg, Am Feadan and the Sithean Mor.
However, once the ship was awake I bade the morning farewell and went to bed once more. My windowless cabin, weary eyes and the rhythmic gentle roll of the Minch making sleep come easy and with great pleasure.
I arose to a beautiful afternoon somewhere east of Harris,
ate my lunch then prepared to assist with an FRC launch once in Uig.
The Hebrides carries two Delta’s, which, when I was a lad were the ‘dogs danglies’ of the RIB world and any diver worth his salt would have given his right arm for one.
I think one is 6m and the other 8.5m,
it was this, the larger one that got deployed.
Anyway, I’m going to post this now whilst I’ve got a signal.