Current / Last Route
A Sandy Bay on Eigg
Corpach Boat Building Company, Corpach
Mermaid Mariner 6 cyl, de-rated to 110HP at 2200rpm driving a single 3 blade bronze propeller via a PRM gearbox.
Hoist & Lifts:
2000 - 2004: Tender at Eigg
Designed and built for Caledonian MacBrayne, Corpach Boatbuilders launched LAIG BAY just before Christmas 2000. At just 10½m in length and with a passenger capacity of 28, LAIG BAY was destined to replace the traditional timber built ULVA as the ‘Flit’ boat tendering to the passing company ships serving the Isle of Eigg community. The role of the Flit boat had all but been superseded by modern piers and docking facilities. But the Isle of Eigg had no pier at the turn of the 21st centaury and relied on a Flit boat to transfer goods and passengers to and from the schedule supply steamer. CalMac already had a new vessel 'LOCHNEVIS' about to enter service to serve the small isles from Mallaig. This new vessel fitted with huge ramps and a hiab crane was to eventually make use of purpose built terminals and eventually eliminate the need for a weather dependent flitboat. Until the completion of the Eigg terminal CalMac required a purpose built vessel to tender to her.
The following extract comes from her builders and describes the versatile little craft she was designed to be: "Her certification under Class VIA and Workboat Category IV dictated a fully decked hull design of all welded steel transversely framed in 50x50 angle with 5mm hull plating. and one compartment flooded stability required 5 transverse bulkheads. All hull spaces thus created are voids except midships, this being the engine room containing the Mermaid Mariner 6 cylinder Ford derivative engine de-rated to 110 h.p. at 2200r.p.m.. Driving a single 3 blade bronze propeller via a PRM gearbox, the vessel can achieve 9 knots on a 14 tonne lightship and her passenger/cargo dead-weight is 5.2 tonnes. Above deck she has a small open backed wheelhouse for’d containing the fairly minimal equipment required but including GMDSS radio, compass, GPS, Wills Ridley hydraulic steering, wiper, circuit breaker electric distribution and engine controls and panel."
The vessel was launched in a 100% finished condition on the 15th December 2000, and was on station at Eigg on the 21st December having successfully completed all owner’s and M.C.A. trials.
Tom McNeill, Technical Director for Caledonian MacBrayne said "Laig Bay is now in service and meets all our requirements. I must thank Corpach Boatyard for all the work they did and the speed in which they carried out the design and construction of the vessel. Caledonian MacBrayne are impressed with Corpach Boatbuilding Company and we look forward to continuing business with them."
Her duties included ferrying passengers, goods, freight and just about anything else that required shipment to the island. Her main visitor was the LOCHNEVIS not yet able to use the Islands new Slipway under construction and on other odd occasions vessels such as PIONEER who covered frequently for overhauls, her shallow draught allowing her to operate ideally to the Small Isles.
The LAIG BAY was to only last a few years until a revolution in the islands took place. With the help of a European Union grant the Small Isles were to get a service like they had never seen before. The transformation came to Eigg in 2004 with the arrival of the LOCHNEVIS (in service from 2000) and her finished slipways on the island which allowed her to berth unload her cargo via her huge stern ramp. Greatly improving the service also sadly marked the end of a long list of loyal, faithful and often forgotten about flitboats and closed another chapter in Scottish island shipping.
Laid up for almost a year, she was sold out of the fleet on the 17th December 2005. Her current owner is Ewan MacKerchar and she is currently berthed at Dunbeg Marina near Oban. She was put up for sale again in June 2006 and is currently awaiting offers. This reliable and little workhorse of the Western Isles once again faces an uncertain future. Being only 6 years old however it is expected that her multitasking role will find her some type of employment.