Crossing Time: 6 hours 15 Minutes
Regular Ship: Hebridean Isles
Kennacraig - Port Askaig - Colonsay - Oban
Mainland - Islay - Colonsay - Mainland
1989 - 1992: Claymore
1993 - 2000: Isle of Arran
2001 - Present: Hebridean Isles
Various vessels on relief duties.
Kennacraig: Terminal built on an island sticking out into West Loch Tarbert, joined to the mainland by causeway. Two ferry berths, one with adjustable linkspan, the other with just a concrete ramp. Passenger gangway lies between the two berths. Extensive vehicle queuing area adjacent to linkspan with terminal offices and facilities close by. There is ample parking space elsewhere on the 'island'.
Port Askaig: Vehicle marshalling area set into hillside behind the pier. New linkspan, roundhead and Jura ferry berth. New octagonal terminal office completed in 2009.
Colonsay: Pier and linkspan (dated over twenty years apart!) set out into the bay at Scalasaig on Colonsay. Passenger gangway is located along the pier and vehicle marshalling area in located adjacent to the linkspan.
Oban: 3 storey terminal building with ticket office, waiting area and toilets. Two linkspans. Raised walkways linking the gangways to the upper floor of the terminal building. Enlarged vehicle marshalling area.
The link sailing between Kennacraig and Oban was started in 1989 following the introduction of the Claymore on the Islay services. She replaced the previous incumbent Iona following her displacement from the Outer Isles service by the new Lord of the Isles upon her entry into service early in 1989. At the same time the veteran ferry Columba was relieved from her duties - one of which was the route from Oban to Colonsay.
Colonsay was now served three times a week from Oban by the Isle of Mull but in addition to this the Islay ferry started a once weekly service to Oban from Kennacraig via Port Askaig and Colonsay. This new crossing allowed residents of Colonsay to leave the island in the morning and then return in the late afternoon - something not previously possible as any departure from the island involved at least one night on the mainland.
Over the years this seasonal service became a regular occurrence and was popular with people on Islay and Colonsay alike. Day trip tickets were offered at reasonable prices and in 1993 the facilities onboard were enhanced somewhat with the introduction of a larger ferry.
Over the years this seasonal service became a regular occurrence and was popular with people on Islay and Colonsay alike. Day trip tickets were offered at reasonable prices and in 1993 the facilities onboard were enhanced somewhat with the introduction of a larger ferry. The Isle of Arran was displaced from her namesake island in 1993 when the new giant Caledonian Isles was pressed into service on the Ardrossan - Brodick service. This was the chance to provide true drive-through capabilities to the Islay service. Naturally this was also brought to the Kennacraig - Oban link on Wednesdays and the Isle of Arran became a regular visitor to Oban and Colonsay during the summer months.
The Isle of Arran remained on the crossing until 2001 when the slightly younger former Uig Triangle ferry Hebridean Isles took over the Islay service. For two summers she was the sole vessel at Islay and Wednesdays therefore meant only one return service linking Islay and the mainland. This changed for the better after couple of seasons when the Isle of Arran returned to Islay once again to offer her services.
As a result of this, each season since her reintroduction, the Hebridean Isles has provided the Wednesday Oban sailing while the Isle of Arran (and since 2011 the Finlaggan), soldiers on at Islay. More recently a second link through from Kennacraig to Oban has been introduced on Saturdays, although the return leg of this only goes as far as Port Askaig.