PIONEER - last Small Isles sailing
11/01/03 - A DATE SET IN STONE - LITERALLY...
Pioneer was the last large fleet member normally deployed on main routes to be used as the Small Isles relief ship for her tiny counterpart the Lochmor. Her trademark shallow draught made her the ideal replacement for the route as she still had to rely on flit boats at most islands like the Lochmor. She did this via a side door cut into her side ramps where goods were unloaded straight onto the deck of the waiting flit boat. The Islanders had never been served as well in terms of size of ship and facilities available to them on the often exposed crossing to the Small Isles but she wasn't to last on the station for too long. On the 11.01.03 she made her last emotional sailing to the Small Isles which, like all of the routes she ever served on in her history she would be missed as a visitor.
No more would she be heard before seen, as was often the case with her powerful Mirlees Blackstone engines, on the Small Isles Station - her Crew left a tribute and memorial to her time spent there to be remembered for years to come...
Eilean Mhor (note name change from Eilean Mor)
Eilean Fraoich II
Eielean Fraoich II and Lochfyne
At 1500 she arrived back at Mallaig and found her new successor, the Loch Nevis waiting at the Pier ready to take over the service on Monday. As the light failed in the evening, a last view of Pioneer at the linkspan at Mallaig could be had. The next day she headed for Oban, then JWD, and an uncertain future. Another chapter in West Coast history and Pioneers life closed forever...
Dhuirnish approaching Rhubodach
Dhuirnish and Eilean Buidhe
Bruernish and Dhuirinish, Inchmarnock, 1985
Dhuirnish laid up at Port Bannatyne
7 June 2020