All at sea

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Arran was left without any ferry connection to the mainland for 93 hours this week.

The lack of even a single ferry for four days is almost unprecedented as even in the relatively distant past a ferry would always to to Gourock – even in the worst of weather.

You have to go all the way back to 2001 to find the ferry being off for so long and that was the result of a strike by CalMac staff  in the run up to Christmas which left the island without a ferry service for almost a week, but some other private boats did operate during that time.

What we have just gone through is a catastrophe for a tourist island during the half term holidays with accommodation provision down 40 per cent and retail down 29 per cent from the same month last year, which is unsustainable.

Cancelled ferry sailings are at 197 since the start of the year – 38 per cent of all sailings, which is unacceptable.

Yes there was Storm Ciara and we appreciate there would have been serious disruption last week, but for that to be compounded by a breakdown on the Caley Isles just days after coming out of refit is unbelievable.

More than half of the CalMac fleet is beyond its life expectancy, including the Caley Isles but with no new boat on the horizon it is not surprising VisitArran has asked: ‘Where do we go from here?’