|Photo from Flickr by Mark Nicolson of the Silvan crossing The Minch|
Thursday, 26 November 2015
No. Not a famous person. A ship. A ship that started its life as a completely new approach to transport to the Isle of Lewis from the Scottish mainland: a roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry. I arrived on the Island not long after she did. I never experienced the need to crane the car onto and off the ferry and travel from Mallaig up the Minch for hours on the original Loch Seaforth. That ship was MV Suilvan.
I have many many memories of this wonderful boat. I say 'wonderfull' because she was an innovation, a great sea-boat (according to those who sailed her) but a dreadful corkscrewing tub to her critics. She operated on the route until she was replaced by MV Isle of Lewis in 1995.
I have many many stories of journeys on her: largely because she sailed in almost any weather and one had to be pretty hardy to endure the worst of journeys which occasionally doubled the usual 3h 45 m journey time.
The time when a colleague (who hides behind the nom de plume of Marcel) and I were standing on the top deck abaft the bridge (hidden by the wave above) and I went inside to use the toilet and came out to find him gone. After an hour he appeared in the 'lounge' still soaked to the skin from a wave that had gone over the top of the bridge just as I went inside. On another occasion a colleague and I were almost alone as passengers returning from Ullapool when a massive wave came down the Minch hitting the vessel side on and scaring the very living daylights (it's a family blog!) out of us. They are the mild memories - the others would take too long to recount.
After leaving service in Scotland she went to New Zealand and saw service across the Cook Strait between North Island and South Island as a cattle boat. In 2004 she went to Fiji.
Two days ago she went to the bottom of the sea in Suva Harbour, Fiji. There was no loss of life.
R. I. P.