The first run by a temporary ‘Bernera ferry’ has been delayed once again by the weather, and will not now take place on Thursday (22 October) as scheduled.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has asked Ferguson Transport and Shipping to provide a suitable vessel for the transportation of oil and gas from Uigen slipway in Uig to Valasay slipway on Great Bernera.
The run is intended as a work-round after Bernera Bridge was closed to heavy goods vehicles in August. HGVs carrying heating oil and gas will form the main cargo on the short sea-crossing.
Ferguson’s shipping administrator Ewan Gibb said a forecast five-metre swell tomorrow (Wednesday) would make the movement of their vessel from Kyle of Localsh to the west side of the Isle of Lewis impossible. A decision will be taken early next week on rescheduling, possibly for Thursday 29 October.
Ewan said: “We essentially need a three day window of reasonable weather – a day to get the vessel into position, a day to do the run and a day to get away again.
“We have three landing craft, any of which would be suitable for the job – this is what they are designed to do and they are over in Uist and Harris all the time, helping out as workboats for a variety of customers.”
“We have a continuous schedule of jobs and, if we get tied up somewhere and are unable to move a vessel it has a knock-on effect for our business and costs the Comhairle more.
“We are used to changes of plan. Plans change all the time in this business and we can’t control the weather, but we try to accommodate what’s needed as best we can in the circumstances.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar state: "Due to forecast weather conditions and sea states this week, the sea run to Bernera scheduled to take place on Thursday 22nd October, will now go ahead on Thursday 29th October. The aim of the run, via sea from Uigen Slipway, Uig to Valasay Slipway, Great Bernera, is to enable the topping up of oil and gas supplies in preparation for winter, and also to test this sea route should it be necessary to deploy again at short notice. In the meantime, the Comhairle continues to make good progress with the statutory permissions required to enable the replacement bridge construction and will provide an updated timescale when these are resolved."
Picture shows Fergusons’ vessel Carly, one of the workboats suitable to perform the Bernera ferry run, during a previous visit to Stornoway (Peter Ward/marinetraffic.com).