On the Spot: Carrie MacKinnon

During childhood visits to New Zealand, one of Carrie’s favourite pastimes was to sail on TSS Earnslaw, the triple-expansion steamship on Lake Wakatipu on South Island. Built in 1911 at Dunedin, the coal-fired vessel was dismantled and transported overland before being reassembled on the lakeside — a construction process almost identical to Scotland’s own Maid of the Loch in 1953. Earnslaw is still in service

Carrie joined CRSC last year, and is now a regular face at our meetings and on our excursions. Here she is, put on the spot, to answer the set questions and reveal what fascinates her about Clyde steamers.

Waving the flag for Waverley: Carrie MacKinnon at the summit of Goatfell on 18 June 2019

What is your earliest memory of sailing on a Clyde steamer?

Given my youthful age it’s got to be Waverley. In June 2011 I travelled from Largs up to Dunoon and Blairmore and sailed Loch Long. It was a misty day (a classic Scottish summer day!) but very atmospheric and it was a wonderful experience. As a child in Preston, I was always interested in boats of all shapes and sizes. With my parents’ garden going down to the Lancaster Canal, I was attracted to the colourful canal barges that went up and down, passing with a wave. Twice a month in summer we would go to Lake Windermere and sail on the ‘steamers’ Swan, Teal and Tern. Long happy hours of plying up and down the lake followed, and firmly instilled in me a love of boats and all the activity that goes on around them. I was also lucky to visit New Zealand five times as a child, and one of my favourite pastimes there was sailing up and down Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, watching the pistons whilst listening to a sing-a-long of old songs! The inter-island ferry trips with my parents were another favourite in New Zealand. Moving up to Scotland in 2004 meant I could try all manner of CalMac ferries and other boats around the coast that still excite me to this day.

What was the last sailing you took?

Isle of Mull in June 2019 — a passenger-only sailing back from Craignure. With Clansman out of service at Oban, it was a crazy day of ‘will it-won’t it happen?’ .

Holidays: Dunoon, Rothesay or Arran?

Favourite ferry: MV Isle of Arran

Has to be Arran for me. Even stepping on the ferry at Ardrossan creates a wonderful relaxing feeling that is only furthered by the island itself. And my favourite ferry, Isle of Arran, still plies the route! I also love the old pictures of Glen Sannox et al, going in to the old Brodick Pier.

What is your favourite steamer?

I am a bit young for the original steamers but Queen Mary holds a special place in my heart. My husband Iain and I walked up the hills behind Largs to watch her coming back home in May 2016 — it was a great day. Since she has been back we have had lots of visits to her and are so impressed by the work being done and the passion it has created. We can’t wait to be able to use her in her new guise.

Which was Waverley’s best livery — LNER, CSP or CalMac?

Favourite ‘streaker’: Saturn, pictured by John Newth when she left Dunoon for the last time as a car ferry, 29 June 2011

I like the CalMac livery with the lions on her funnels. It gave her quite a distinctive look.

What was your favourite ‘Maid’ (if old enough) or ‘streaker’ (if young enough)?

I loved to see the streakers’ at Gourock. Saturn was a favourite, and it’s so sad to see her as Orcadia, now quite forlorn. They were great vessels and I think even today would make a big difference to some of the routes, where they could ‘help out’ when needed.

A new turbine has been built on the Clyde: what would you name her?

Having listened to Eric Schofield’s talk at the AGM, and the passion and happy memories that this boat stirred in some of the members, it has to be Caledonia.

What would you like to see happen on the Clyde ferry scene over the next few years?

Popular pier: Waverley at Helensburgh, photographed by Eric Schofield on a glorious summer’s day in 1980

We need the new ferry (Glen Sannox) to come in to action, but I’m not sure if it will be too late and they will have to start thinking again as the fleet is ageing. I quite like the Pentland Ferries idea of their ship Alfred. I’m not saying it would work or be practical on every route but I think they would make great subjects for photos!

The best point-to-point route you’ve sailed on?

Feolin Ferry. Port Askaig to Jura! Only a five-minute trip, but nothing can match the excitement of going across the strait with the tide against you and deer on the beach to greet you at the other side!

Apart from Millport, which pier would you like to see re-open?

I would like to see Helensburgh reopen as it’s a very popular pier and everyone speaks very fondly of it.

What inspired you to join CRSC?

Cool shades: Carrie and her husband Iain (left) were attracted to CRSC by organised trips such as the excursion to Islay in October 2018, undertaken with the help of Lawrence Macduff (centre) and his personalised bus ramps. This picture was taken while the CRSC bus was waiting to board Isle of Cumbrae at Portavadie en route to Kennacraig

Initially I joined the Facebook page as I loved all the pictures. Then I saw the trips that the Club had organised in the past, and one came up that I really fancied, so I booked it. On that trip the crowd were so friendly, and we really felt part of the day, so I joined shortly after. Over the winter I have really enjoyed the talks at Jurys Inn, and love seeing friends at the meetings. It’s great to go on a ferry (or the Waverley!) and see a friendly face saying hello! I also really enjoy the shared knowledge that people have passed on to me. The passion for the Club is clear.

If the CRSC had loads of money in the bank, what would you spend it on?

I think at the moment it would have to be new boilers for the Waverley.

What makes you continue your membership of CRSC, year on year?

Friends I have made, the talks in the winter and the opportunity to go on trips with like-minded people who enjoy the same things I do. The magazine is also well worth being a member for.

What could the Club do better?

I have only been a member for just over a year, but I really love the old archived photos, so more of them would be great!

This is a good time to join CRSC. Click here for your £10 membership and take advantage of all the benefits.

Fantasy Land, Hastings, New Zealand: from an early age Carrie (pictured with Mum) had an interest in boats

“Lancaster Canal at the bottom of my parents’ garden during the 1992 Preston Guild Year”

Carrie with Mum and Dad on the inter-island ferry Arahura, New Zealand 1998

Carrie and Iain MacKinnon (right) on the bridge of Hebridean Isles during CRSC’s excursion to Colonsay in May 2018, with Chief Steward Dean Caldwell and Chief Officer Gary Calderwood on the left and CRSC President Roy Paterson in the centre

Carrie and Iain MacKinnon (left) on the bridge of Finlaggan during CRSC’s trip to Islay in October 2018, with Captain Callan Sloan and Second Officer Joe Mattock in the centre

“Over the winter I have really enjoyed the CRSC talks at Jurys Inn, and love seeing friends at the meetings”: Carrie and Iain MacKinnon (left) are pictured with the speaker at the January 2019 meeting, Serco NorthLink Managing Director Stuart Garrett, and Captain Murray Paterson

Carrie retains fond childhood memories of Earnslaw, her first encounter with a steamship

Published on 13 July 2019.