View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Tuesday 20 March

This ship is the Dutch-registered MV Flinterspirit, which put in an unscheduled appearance at Stornoway today. The vessel had been en-route to Belfast when she decided to dispute passage with the island of North Uist, 70 miles southwest of Stornoway. The island won, and the boat was stuck fast on rocks at 10.45pm last night. Fortunately, the tide was rising and the boat was able to refloat herself in the early hours of today. She was ordered north to Stornoway to check her hull for cracks. As I type this, she is anchored a few miles southeast of the town, within sight of my position.

The stranding has provoked a furious row, as the provision of an emergency tug in the Minch had been terminated as of last Saturday - without so much as a word to the Western Isles Council. The emergency tug Anglian Sovereign, based at Kirkwall in Orkney (200 miles to the eastnortheast), came across, but her services were fortunately not required, as no damage or injuries were reported. The UK government has decided that the maritime industry should provide its own tugs. I suppose that the next proposal is for the burghers of Stornoway to band together to buy and run their own ambulances, and in the meantime, an emergency ambulance would be available from Kirkwall.

Today was a windy day, with the force 7 wind prompting the cancellation of the overnight freight ferry to Ullapool.