This week’s letters to the editor include one Bute councillor’s concerns about the planned work at Wemyss Bay pier which will result in ferry services being diverted to Gourock, and one correspondent’s view that the campaign to save MV Saturn from the scrap heap has little worth.
With regard to your article of December 26 concerning the closure of Wemyss Bay ferry terminal for essential works, there are several issues that Cal Mac must provide clarity on.
First, why are they reluctant to enter an arrangement with Western Ferries, which will offer travellers flexibility at a time when service will be compromised?
With the service being reduced from 17 return sailings a day to ten, there will undoubtedly be issues at peak travel times, when the service on offer will be inadequate.
I have personally spoken with Gordon Ross, managing director of Western Ferries, who has offered to provide a solution that will deal with the overspill as well as offer the public flexibility to travel to and from Bute.
His suggestion is that travellers could purchase a ‘shared’ ticket at McInroy’s Point, which would enable people to cross from there to Hunter’s Quay (a 20 minute crossing), then travel from Hunter’s Quay to Colintraive by road (25 - 30 minutes) and finally Colintraive to Rhubodach (a crossing of five minutes).
This would mean travellers would be on the island just as quickly as waiting for another one hour and five minutes for the next scheduled service from Gourock to Rothesay.
Unfortunately, this would only benefit those passengers who are travelling by vehicle.
CalMac must take this offer by Western Ferries on board, as the operation of this service is absolutely essential if businesses on Bute are to avoid suffering huge drops in income.
Cllr Robert Macintyre (Independent, Isle of Bute)
Dunallan Farm, North Bute
No value in preserving MV Saturn
Your recent article about the possibility of restoring the MV Saturn to full functionality has me most bemused.
I am at a loss to comprehend where this improbable notion came from. The MV Saturn did indeed serve the Clyde well - and note that I say the Clyde, because over the years you were as likely to see her on any of the routes, including Ardrossan-Brodick.
For 20 years or more, you would see the MVs Juno, Jupiter and Pioneer as much as the Saturn on the Wemyss Bay-Rothesay route.
Undoubtedly, the ‘streakers’ were excellent sea boats, and were able to ply when our current fleet would struggle.
But let’s not get carried away here: whilst eminently serviceable vessels, they were grossly uncomfortable with primitive passenger facilities and accommodation.
I well remember the freezing cold, smelly toilets and the tiny hatch where a limited supply of doubtful snacks and drinks was offered.
This ship is 38 years old, and for a car ferry that is very old indeed. Her Mirrlees-Blackstone engines are quite simply worn out; indeed, in order to keep her going, CMAL had to cannibalise the Juno and Jupiter.
John M. McDonald
Ascog Boathouse, Ascog
* Read the full versions of both letters in this week’s Buteman - on sale now.