Ferries disrupted as Bute battens down the hatches

MVs Argyle and Bute tied up at Rothesay pier on Wednesday, December 9 after high winds led to a temporary suspension of the service.
MVs Argyle and Bute tied up at Rothesay pier on Wednesday, December 9 after high winds led to a temporary suspension of the service.

Ferries between Rothesay and Wemyss Bay were disrupted as the first sustained spell of bad weather this winter struck the west coast of Scotland on Tuesday.

Only the first crossing of the day from Rothesay made it to Wemyss Bay, with the next two ferries diverted to Gourock before increasing wind speeds led to the service being suspended.

Three return crossings between Rothesay and Gourock were made during the afternoon as conditions relented slightly - though as this article is published, the worst of the strong winds and heavy rain forecast for most of the northern and western UK has yet to arrive, and with both the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay and Rhubodach-Colintraive services on ‘amber alert’ for Wednesday, further disruption seems virtually certain.

On Tuesday the Met Office updated its warning of strong winds from yellow (be aware) to amber (be prepared) for more exposed coastal areas, advising of 70-80mph winds and exceptionally high waves for the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland on Wednesday.

The forecast for Rothesay is currently predicting peak wind gusts of up to 63mph around midday on Wednesday, and those gusts are not expected to dip below 50mph until daylight on Thursday. Rain showers of varying intensity are expected throughout Wednesday.

The ‘be aware’ alert for the less exposed parts of Argyll and Bute currently warns of gales, severe at times, with unusually high waves and the potential for localised flooding and disruption to travel and possibly power supplies.

Other ferry services throughout the CalMac network have been much more badly hit than Bute, with sailings to Arran, Islay, Mull, Lewis and Harris all cancelled for the rest of the day on Tuesday morning.