For those on board Hebridean Isles, it’s that magical moment when the alluring landscape of the Inner Hebrides opens up and a sea voyage becomes an adventure. For the photographer, that landscape (with the Paps of Jura to the left) provides the perfect backdrop to the ship’s colours — red, white and black having been synonymous with travel to the western isles for more than a century and a half.
Built in 1986, the ‘Heb Isles’ was the first CalMac vessel to be named by royalty (HRH The Duchess of Kent) and the first to be launched sideways, at Cochrane’s yard in Selby, North Yorkshire. After initially serving on the Uig triangle, where traffic built up more quickly than her owners had predicted, she moved in 2000 to the Islay run. Now 30 years old, she remains a reliable and popular member of the fleet there: the large windows of her observation lounge on the top deck aft are much appreciated by tourists, and she is one of a diminishing number of CalMac car ferries with a passenger foredeck immediately beneath the bridge, a valuable design feature that offers panoramic views of the islands as the vessel proceeds towards them.
Occasionally Hebridean Isles is to be found deputising elsewhere. Early in 2016, for example, she returned briefly to her old haunts on the route linking Skye, North Uist and Harris.
Published on 2 April 2016