Between February 23rd and February 27th it was intended that the Craignure-Oban service would be run as a two vessel service with the MV Isle of Mull joining the Loch Frisa.
Due to an unplanned extension to the dry-docking of the Caledonian Isles, there has been a knock-on to the overhaul plan that means the Isle of Mull will be needed for cover elsewhere until at least February 27th.
As well as engine problems and excessive wastage of steelwork (rust to you and me) on the Cale Isles, the Clansman has also been delayed in dry-dock in Birkenhead for the same reason. This is the second winter running where thin steelwork has been discovered in the Clansman’s hull, leading to an extended period in dry-dock.
From Feb 28th it had been intended that the Loch Frisa would go to dry-dock, leaving us with the Isle of Mull on her own through until March 19th. That still appears to be the intention, but as we have seen throughout this winter, things can change. Dry-dock delays and breakdowns have already resulted in unplanned periods where the Loch Frisa has operated on her own.
Before the winter began, we expected around 13 of the 23 weeks of winter to be served by 2 vessels. As things stand, it will only have been 10 weeks by winter-end.
The inadequate capacity of the Loch Frisa is reflected in the current state of bookings – if you want to make a return day-trip journey to Oban on any sailing of your choice with a vehicle, you now have to book dates in March. And that was before news of the delay to the return of the Isle of Mull, so most sailings in late February are likely to be fully booked very soon. Such pressure on capacity in the winter months is unprecedented.
…So don’t forget the Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol
If you have a medical appointment, CalMac have an ‘Urgent Medical Appointment Protocol’ that can help you get to your appointment by car. If that affects you, call the contact centre and ask to use the protocol. CalMac will make efforts to ensure your car is carried, even if the sailing is marked as full online. If that fails, they will pay for a taxi for the mainland portion of your journey.
The protocol was improved last week, following requests by MIFC. Go here for the full details.
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