Crowds gathered in Lochboisdale last Saturday afternoon to cheer off the first sailing connecting South Uist and Mallaig.
Some 100 islanders were there to mark the occasion — which came belatedly after the first three scheduled sailings were cancelled due to bad weather. The service had been due to start on Tuesday of last week.
Addressing the gathering in Lochboisdale, Huw Francis, the chief executive of Stòras Uibhist, said: “Our community has fought for this service for many years and its importance for the Uists cannot be underestimated.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this new service will be good for business, for tourism and for the travelling public. I hope that this is the start of a long-term service and though it is, at the moment, a winter-only service we as a community will continue to campaign for the service to be run through the summer season.”
His views were echoed by local councillor Donnie Steele, who added: “I’d like to congratulate Stòras Uibhist and the community for their efforts in winning this service. Like Huw Francis, I believe it is vital that the service is run throughout the year, not just in winter. This is a very welcome step and I hope that we can look forward to a brighter future for South Uist and Lochboisdale as a result.”
Local resident Ryan Peteranna spoke about the opportunities the new service will provide for the younger generation. He said: “This service will no doubt be of great convenience to the people of Uist as it will be the only one to allow us to travel to places like Fort William, Inverness and Glasgow and back on the same day.
“This will be particularly useful on Saturdays, when we will be better able to maintain connections with friends and relatives as well as gaining quicker access to the retail services the mainland has to offer.”
The Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry, to be operated on a trial basis for the next three winters, is scheduled to make two sailings each Tuesday and Saturday.