11 June 2016

Isle of Arran at Ardrossan and Brodick, 2 June 2016

I recently returned from a week-long vacation in Scotland, which included a brief tour of the various ferries plying the waters of Scotland's western coast and islands in the company of the knowledgeable Bruce Peter. The trip resulted in almost 2000 photos of various Caledonian MacBrayne ferries (as well as the paddle steamer Waverley). The current plan is to put these up mixed with the cruise ship photos I'm bound to take over the summer, thus hopefully avoiding drowning you with CalMac shots.

This time around, we are taking a look at the very first CalMac ship I both saw and travelled on, the Isle of Arran.

Isle of Arran

IMO 8219554
Built 1984, Ferguson Ailsa Glasgow, United Kingdom
Tonnage 3 269 GT
Length 84,92 m
Width 16,24 m
Draught 3,20 m
652 passengers
62 cars
2 diesels
2 propellers
1 bow thruster
Speed 15 knots

As the name suggests, the Isle of Arran was built for a service linking to the isle of Arran (although there was also a 19th century steamer with the same name, and Caledonian MacBrayne have generally been keen to recycle historical names for their ships). Unsurprisingly for a state-owned ship, it was built locally by Ferguson Ailsa in Glasgow, completed in 1984. It must be said that compared to other ferries that entered service around the same time, the Isle of Arran appeared decidedly dated, in terms of both exterior design. Upon entering service on the Ardrossan-Brodick -route the Isle of Arran replaced two older vessels, the Clansman and the Caledonia, and appears to have been a success from the start.

Eventually, demands on the route grew and the Isle of Arran proved too small for the service, and was replaced by the much more modern Caledonian Isles in 1993. Thus the Isle of Arran was moved to services to the isle of Islay, sailing on routes from Kennacraig to Port Ellen and Port Askaig. The ship was used on this route only during the summers, spending winters as a reserve vessel. Following the arrival of further new tonnage in 2001, the Isle of Arran was no longer needed as a regular on the Islay routes, and has since served on a bewildering array of different routes.

Since 2012, the Isle of Arran has again served primarily on the Ardrossan-Brodick -route (alongside the Caledonian Isles), interspersed with sailings from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, with winters spent in reserve. The Isle of Arran is an old ship, however, and it is due to be replaced by a newbuilt vessel in 2018.

The photos below show the Isle of Arran arriving at Ardrossan (first three) and departing from Brodick (the rest), both taken on 2 June 2016. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

Not a bad-loking ship, though - as said - I do think it looks very old-fashioned for one built in 1984.
Apparently, the livery has varied over the years: there was a brief period with a grey hull (which extended all the way up to the boat deck), soon replaced by the more traditional black. After the first season, the white paint was lowered, and finally in 1998 the black hull colour was lifted back to the original level at the bow, resulting in the current livery.
Coming from the Baltic, tides fascinate me. The fact that the shoreline here is different depending on the time of day is a concept quite alien to me.
One Ardrossan-Brodick -crossing later, the Isle of Arran departs Brodick again. The construction work of a new ferry terminal meant the sightlines were less good than they could have been.
I really like this shot.
In less than 55 minutes, the ship is back at Ardrossan.
Next time: the previously-promised Marco Polo, I think.

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