CalMac Bute ferry runs aground

FERRY services between Bute and Cowal were suspended for around five hours on Wednesday after the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry which operates the route ran aground.

The vessel, MV Loch Dunvegan, got stuck on the Rhubodach slipway at around 8.15am after making the short crossing from Colintraive, with passengers on the island forced to use CalMac's Rothesay-Wemyss Bay service to reach the mainland.

No-one was injured in the incident.

Brian Fulton, CalMac's upper Clyde regional manager, was quickly on site to determine the extent of the problem.

"It's too early to say exactly what happened," Brian told The Buteman.

"This happens very rarely. We have sent for another boat to pick up the service, and we reckon it will be here about two o'clock.

"It's one of those things that happens once in a blue moon."

Holiday-maker Andy Shackleton from Lancashire - a regular visitor to the island - was one of those whose plans were disrupted by the incident.

"I've arranged to meet with a friend on the other side," he said while his friend Ray took pictures of the stricken vessel, "and we had planned to go hill walking.

"We were getting really excited about it but we just have to adapt.

"We will just go for a walk round here, and reconvene tomorrow."

Divers and hull experts inspected the ship once it had been removed from the site at the next high tide to ensure its safety.

The relief vessel, MV Loch Tarbert, arrived to take up the service ar around 3pm - though inspections of the Loch Dunvegan were completed a short time later and the ship allowed to resume sailing.

The Loch Dunvegan was built by Ferguson Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow in 1991 as one of two identical ferries for the short crossing between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin on Skye.

Displaced in 1995 on the completion of the Skye Bridge, the Loch Dunvegan - which can carry 250 passengers and up to 36 cars - has been the dedicated ferry on the Rhubodach-Colintraive route since 1999.

See also:

Caledonian MacBrayne service information - from official CalMac site