A poster of Llandudno pier prompted a memory from ex Calmac chief engineer Charlie McCurdy as he took another trip down memory lane.
He was reminded of an occasion, unique in several ways, when in September ’95 he was serving aboard Claymore when she was chartered by an American oil company to take the owner of the company and his VIP guests to visit the Douglas and Hamilton platforms, 15 miles off the North Wales coast. The Douglas oil field was discovered in 1990 with production commencing in ‘96.
Claymore, when temporarily a VIP inspection yacht, sailed overnight from Ardrossan to Llandudno where she embarked guests on the morning of the 6th September 1995 for a day trip round the platforms, no expense being spared with lunch served of fine food and drink enjoyed by all, I assume rather superior to the usual Calmac wholesome but basic fare. Claymore sailed for Ardrossan the same evening, arriving the following morning.
I admit Claymore 1,631,’79 is one of my favourite Calmac vessels though she was, or perhaps because she was, something of an ugly duckling, delivered by Robb-Caledon at Leith in ‘79 . She was an odd one out and also I have a soft spot for ‘spare ships’ which she became later on. She seemed to be the ‘go to’ vessel for emergency and short term requirement.
She became probably the most travelled member of the CalMac fleet, visiting twenty-four terminals in total in 1996, her last full year with the company. From May 1997, for three years, Claymore, under the Argyll and the Antrim Steam Packet Company, subsidiary of Sea Containers (Scotland) Ltd, ran the new summer sailing from Campbeltown to Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, while providing winter overhaul relief for CalMac under charter. On ultimate failure of the Ballycastle service, she was put on the market. She carried out a five-week charter to the Faroe Islands in June 2000.
Sold for a period to Pentland Ferrys for their Orkney route as a freight ferry, coincidence struck again, because when she was finally sold abroad and was too good for the breakers, she became a very useful cable handling vessel fitted with global positioning gear for the Danish company CT Offshore.
And where did I find her in this new hi-tech guise looking extremely business-like and at least as good as a workboat as she was a ferry, but in Barrow when working back in the Irish Sea? From an oil company junketing yacht to a green-eco-activist, she was supporting the huge Walney Windfarm project. As I write, she is in slightly more exotic waters on windfarm work in Greece.