I include a fine poster and artist’s image of the famed Macbrayne paddler Columba.
A reminder of the days when its ships were special and looked it, and the marketing techniques that could be used to boost their success were self evident. The takeover of the Argyll Ferries route, Gourock-Dunoon, is not going well and the headline in the local press of a few weeks ago – “A bad week for the Wee Ferries” – says it all when first the larger monohull Argyll Flyer retired for engine repairs and then the Ali Cat was out of service with an electrical issue.
Their problems were resolved fairly soon, but not before much more bad publicity and the embarrassment of buses and taxis taking passengers to competing Western Ferries for the crossing over the Firth to Dunoon.
But even worse, it would soon be a “bad week for Calmac’s big ferries” too, though this time Calmac couldn’t be blamed as the local government authorities took their turn. It was only 10 days after the Craignure terminal on Mull was approved for safety by its local council owners that it was closed due to a massive balk of timber coming away which was then defined as a non-structural fender – but I have to say it looked structural enough in the photographs – and the quay was declared safe by Calmac to use.
But as we go to press, Clansman has had to be withdrawn with engine failure on one of the busiest periods of the year. It is obvious that major investment in the Calmac fleet has been too long delayed and the procrastination has caught out those controlling the purse strings.