Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Craignure ferries (again)

A while back I wrote about what used to be understood by the words ferries and steamers and more recently highlighted this postcard of the ferry at Craignure on Mull:-

Disembarking from the "steamer" and going ashore by "ferry" looks like a lot of fun. Indeed, it was an experience still possible at the islands of Rum, Eigg and Muck until 2001 and I did it myself a couple of times at Rum in the early 90s off the "steamer" from Mallaig, the Lochmor (1979), in balmy summer weather:-

 But an article I spotted in the Glasgow Herald archives from November 1937 reminds us what a hazardous operation disembarking in to a ferry could be in winter:-

Here's the full story:-

During a storm on Wednesday afternoon two Mull ferryboats which meet the Oban and Tobermory steamer Lochinvar for passengers for Craignure, were driven ashore near Craignure. No lives were lost nor was anyone injured, but one of the boats was wrecked.

 One of them is motor-driven, and the other, a large open boat used for carrying heavy luggage and freight, had just cast off from the Lochinvar when, it appears the propeller of the motor boat was fouled and the steering wheel jammed.

 The anchors of both boats were thrown overboard to prevent drifting, while an endeavour was made to clear the propeller of the obstruction. On account of the high seas, which were lashing the small craft with heavy spray, the anchors began to drag, and the anchor ropes, becoming frayed by the incessant pitching of the boats, broke. Immediately the plight of the two boats was seen from the shore the alarm was raised, and villagers rushed to the beach to give what help they could.

 A telephone call was put through to Lochaline, the next port of call of the Lochinvar, asking her to turn back and give assistance if needed. Meantime the boats were driven to the shore, and it was not long before they grounded opposite Java Lodge. Some of those on the beach waded into the water to rescue those on board.

 A ram in one of the boats was drowned before it could be rescued.

 It must have been a severe storm indeed for the same edition of the Herald contains a rather hauting story of the Port Erin (Isle of Man) lifeboat attending an Irish schooner out of Arklow called the Invermore whose sails had been carried away and auxiliary engine had broken down. Rather than be taken off, the Invermore's crew preferred that the lifeboat return to port to send word to Liverpool to request a tug. The lifeboat complied but when it attempted to return to stand by the schooner, it couldn't find the Invermore. As the Herald laconically reported:

Since then there has been no word of the schooner, It is not known whether she obtained assistance from another vessel or whether she met with disaster.

I leave you with a picture below of the "ferry" (flit boat) from Muck alongside the "steamer" (ferry) from Mallaig (the Lochmor) in fairly benign weather in 1988.