What a stunning morning to wake up to today and on top of all that a pod of Dolphins in Loch Indaal entertained us just after 7am this morning. They first passed our cottage and were heading towards the pier where more and more people came out of their houses to witness this stunning Islay wildlife spectacle. Later on they headed back towards the lighthouse and that gave me the opportunity to get very close to them and take some nice pictures. It was impressive to see them and, as it was very quiet, to hear them as well every time they surfaced.
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Earlier this year, in January to be precise, plans were revealed for a new distillery on Islay, roughly between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain, at Ardnahoe. Today Argyll and Bute council announced that planning permission has been granted to the applicants which means that construction of Ardnahoe distillery will commence anytime soon.
The council writes: "The proposal will deliver sustainable economic development within an ‘economically fragile area’ in a manner which, notwithstanding the concerns expressed by third parties, will not give rise to any unacceptable, or significant adverse effect upon the receiving environment. As well as the distillery itself, there are a number of additional benefits. The whisky industry supports a range of other businesses, such as haulage firms, who take the product round the country and even overseas." Continue reading...
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The memories of things I did while on Islay which made the most lasting impressions have almost all got something to do with being out on a boat. It started with my first ever sailing to Islay on a Calmac ferry and the excitement to arrive in Port Ellen. I can still recall almost every detail of that crossing. The gaelic speaker announcing our departure, the sea-birds out on the sea, the clear blue sea, the sudden appearance of a minke whale, stunning big skies and the first glimpses of Jura, Islay and the three distilleries in the distance, it was all magical. Ever since that first ferry journey our many trips on boats in the waters around our beautiful island have been amazing, each and every time. Every trip had something memorable and today another chapter was added...
The Gulf of Corryvreckan
The Wave Dancer on her way to Corryvreckan
Gus from Islay Sea Adventures had organised a trip to Corryvreckan, the whirlpool between the islands of Scarba and Jura. Corryvreckan is something special and legend tells us that a prince, Breackan, died while trying to show his courage to a princess of the isles while staying out in the gulf of Corryvreckan for three days and nights. Continue reading...
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Today Calmac revealed more details about their plans for the new eight year ferry contract. They won the contract in a tender held last year. Most folk on the islands in the West of Scotland, and tourists alike, rely on good ferry transport and the fact that Calmac won the contract was welcomed by many island communities. It's always pleasant to see the black, white and red ferries arriving in island ports and you know that a drink, a warm meal, a usually pleasant journey without delays and your next destination or home await you. The staff on board are friendly and helpful and the general feeling is that Calmac is doing a great job. Does this mean that all is well?
MV Finlaggan in the Sound of Islay
There are a few things Calmac can, and should, improve in my opinion such as:
- They should come up with a solution where all their ferries fit all link spans in all the island ports. That would make them more flexible and more capable of exchanging ferries from one route to another in the event of breakdowns or if more capacity is needed elsewhere.
- It's important that Calmac starts with contingency planning when breakdowns or accidents occur, see the recent events during the busy summer season when the Islay service was down to one ferry and folk had to cancel their holiday.
- They should also improve their standby system. It sometimes happens that folk are on the waiting list and end up on an almost empty ferry.
- Better connectivity with public transport is also essential. Recently a bus with a lot of foot-passengers arrived at Kennacraig from Glasgow whilst seeing the ferry just leaving, a very frustrating experience! How is this possible? Does the coach driver not communicate with the staff in the port?
- And perhaps most important of all, Islay needs more ferry capacity during peak times. Now that Calmac has an extra crew trained for the MV Finlaggan, wouldn't it be a great idea to have it sail freight overnight at peak times to create extra space during the day sailings?
Some of the issues above are addressed in the new plans such as improved public transport connectivity and a better capacity utilisation. The more pressing issues such as contingency planning, extra capacity and link span improvement don't seem to be addressed. Continue reading....
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