#PortSnapShot – Campbeltown, Scotland, almost at the tip of the Mull of Kintyre and a mere 19 km/12 miles from Northern Ireland, is where the impressive cruise tallship, Sea Cloud II is visiting today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 5-star ultra-luxury Sea Cloud II having made an overnight call to Dublin Port that ended yesterday. This evening she heads into the North Channel on the short passage to Belfast Harbour.
Guests of the Sea Cloud Cruises ‘windjammer’, is docked alongside the New Pier at Caledonian MacBrayne’s (CalMac) ferry terminal. This season marks the first year of the ‘permanent’ designated Ardrossan-Campbeltown service, following a three-year summer operated pilot service as part of CalMac's extensive route network of the Clyde and Western Isles.
Sea Cloud II's presents a majestic appearance given her three masts in which the main mast towers 57m /187ft, however, a 3,849 gross tonnage is not much larger than the local CalMac ferry, Isle of Arran of 3,296 respectively. The thrice-weekly operated ferry is not today in port which is home to a trawler fleet.
Asides the seasonal Forth of Clyde ferry service to and from Ardrossan, Campbeltown’s second ferry link consolidates the Irish connection. At the town’s marina is where the ‘passenger’-only RIB ferry to Ballycastle, Co. Antrim is operated by Kintyre Express They also have a Ballycastle service to Port Ellen on Islay.
Prior to this Ireland-Scotland link, was the Argyle & Antrim Steamship Co. that also ran between Campbeltown and Ballycastle. The short-lived three-year (1997-2000) summer-only route was served by Claymore, having been sold by CalMac to the company, a subsidiary of Sea Containers (Scotland) Ltd. In winter she acted as overhaul relief vessel for CalMac when under charter.
On a notable occasion, Claymore left Scottish waters, when chartered during the visit of USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) as the giant 82,000 tonnes aircraft carrier anchored off Dun Laoghaire Harbour, just over two decades in July 1996. A public lottery was held for thousands to visit the Dublin Bay naval visitor by boarding Claymore and other ‘tender’ vessels. This was during the backdrop of Jean Kennedy-Smith's tenure as US Ambassador to Ireland, in the early days of the northern 'peace process'.
Asides the Ardrossan ferry, Campbeltown exports round timber (logs) as seen above at the New Pier Quay, where Sea Cloud II currently occupies this berth. Short-sea coasters on occasions call to the harbour to load timber to Irish ports, among them Rosslare Harbour as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
Last but not least, P.S. Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle-steamer, in which among her owners included Caledonian MacBrayne until withdrawn in 1973. Two years later she was sold for preservation and is less than two months to celebrating her 70th anniversary, having been launched on the Clyde at a Glasgow yard in 1946.
She is operated by Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. During seven decades the veteran vessel has carried over 5 million passengers from over 60 ports around the UK. This summer she made an Antrim Coast Cruise off Redbay. Stormforce RIBS used by Kintyre Express are manufactured by Red Bay Boats in Cushendall that overlooks the bay.
Waverley made her Irish debut in 1984 along Leinster's eastern seaboard. Over subsequent calls, she has visited Dundalk, Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Wicklow, Arklow and as far south to Rosslare Harbour. The paddle-steamer excursions also included transitting Dalkey Sound.