Liferafts and RIB
Current / Last Route
30th June 2011
Purchased by Argyll Ferries, transferred to CalMac Ferries in 2019
MTU 12V 2000 M70 2 X 1075BHP @ 2100RPM
Hoist & Lifts:
2011 - Present: Gourock - Dunoon (Passenger Only)
With the passing of the Gourock - Dunoon car ferry service in 2011, the service between the two towns entered a new era. The Scottish Government's decision put an end to the vehicle service ended a 30 year old fiasco, which saw the town to town service facing severe constraints and effectively handed a monopoly to rivals Western Ferries on a plate. Following Saturn's well-patronised final sailing on 29th June, CalMac officially ceased to operate the route, handing it over to the newly created Argyll Ferries. The Ali Cat became main ferry on the route temporarily; her running mate being the chartered Clyde Clipper. A longer term partner for Ali Cat had been sourced from Ireland some time previously and was revealed to be the 2001 Banrion Chonamara - a sleek monohull craft found serving the Aran Islands in the south west. She was 10 years old and capable of a brisk 22 knots.
Having made the lengthy journey from the County Clare coast and up into the Firth of Clyde, Banrion Chonamara was slipped at Ardmaleish on Bute on 15th June 2011 where work commenced on preparing her for her new life as Dunoon ferry. During the overhaul she was given the somewhat uninspiring name Argyll Flyer - a nod to her superior speed, although her area of operation was subject to a 12 knot speed limit! A new paint scheme was added (as had previously been applied to Ali Cat) and the Argyll Flyer was made ready for service. She eventually took over from the Clyde Clipper on 14th July.
The partnership of Ali Cat and Argyll Flyer quickly led to criticism from certain parties and they were unflatteringly branded by some as 'Bathtub Boats' due to their small size and lively motion in rough weather. Nevertheless Argyll Flyer became a familiar sight on the Upper Clyde and just got on with the job required of her.
January 2019 saw the service once again falling into the remit of CalMac and in her next overhaul (May 2019) her blue and white livery was replaced with the familiar black and white paintwork. She gained the standard buff mast and her tiny funnels turned red; the yellow disc and red lions being padded by means of a square painted sheet with transfers.