Crossing Time: 8 hours
Regular Ship: Claymore
Ardrossan - Douglas
Mainland - Isle of Man
Ardrossan: Single linkspan set into the former entrance to a now filled-in dock, large vehicle waiting area and modern terminal building located close to the ferry berth. Large car park located next to queuing area, developed out along the breakwater. Direct passenger walkway from the ferry terminal building to the railway station platform a few yards away.
Douglas: The Claymore used the Edward Pier more than the linkspan on the Victoria Pier so in 1994 and 1995 she would have used the Navire linkspan on the south side of the pier and in 1996 the new government one on the north side. It was also about this time that the facilities in the sea terminal were upgraded to what they are like now.
In a move that saw the companies first scheduled route outside the boundary of Scotland, Claymore, the spare vessel at the time was to by employed on a unique route that would only last for a few years. She was to provide a annual summer service for 7 weeks a year to the most southerly island that the company has ever served on a regular sailing. However it wasn't the first time a company vessel had visited the Isle of Mann. Pioneer had sailed from Gourock to the Isle of Mann in 1993, a year before the Claymore's first crossing. On charter to the Isle of Mann Steam Packet Company, she sailed with groups of passengers and TT motorcyclists in assistance to the companies other vessels in what was the companies first sailing with passengers out of Scotland.
In the summer of 1994 Claymore was fully advertised for 15 weekends to sail to the Manx isle leaving Ardrossan on Saturdays at 0830 and returning from Douglas on Sundays at 1130. She duly commenced her first passenger and vehicle sailing departing Ardrossan on Saturday the 28th of May on time with a passage time of about 8 hours. The sailing, under the command of Captain Robert Sneedon, went without a hitch and the first passengers to sail from Ardrossan to the Isle of Mann since 25/08/1985 were treated to a flat calm crossing each way. The new service was run in partnership with the Isle of Mann Steam Packet Company, allowing trips to be made onto Ireland or England from the Isle of Mann. It was also the first crossing operated by the company under the 'Short International Voyage Passenger Certificate'.
Claymore at Douglas
Claymore at Douglas
Pioneer at Douglas 04/06/93
Claymore in rough seas near Mull of Galloway
Claymore at Douglas 1996
To inaugurate the new service a reception was held aboard Claymore once she arrived at Douglas. Guests included representatives from the Isle of Mann Steam Packet Company and the Isle of Mann tourist board. Caledonian MacBrayne was represented onboard by the Captain (Capt. Robert Sneedon) his officers, Area Manager Andrew Horne and Marketing Officer Walter Bowie.
Bunks were made available onboard for the longest crossing the company operated (Claymore only), even thought it was a daylight crossing. They were used overnight at Douglas in conjunction with accommodation ashore to offer cheap weekend getaways from Ayrshire. It gave the visitor an opportunity to go and visit such events like the annual TT Week, Manx Grand Prix and various fixed attractions or as mentioned above, travel further a field. Goods vehicles were permitted onboard but no caravans were allowed onto the Island. Due to new International Passenger Certificate and SOLAS regulations brought in after the fatal sinking of the Estonia in the Baltic, coupled with the increased subsidy and sale of other fleet members, the route was closed at the end of the 1996 season - the sailings only lasting 3 seasons. There are no plans by CalMac to open the route again soon due to a lack of spare tonnage and funding.