By Alexander Lawrie
KIND-HEARTED islanders came to the rescue of 30 stranded tourists after their ferry failed to dock due to bad weather.
Day-trippers to Colonsay were left marooned on the tiny island because stormy weather conditions hampered the local Calmac ferry service.
The visitors watched in horror as the ferry sailed past without stopping while they stood on the pier with all of their luggage on Wednesday evening.
But they needn’t have worried – hospitable islanders came to the rescue by opening up Colonsay’s only shop, as well as their homes to put up the abandoned holidaymakers for the unplanned stopover.
Visitor Linda McMillan, 56, from Anstruther, said: “We were planning on spending just a couple of days on Colonsay and then head on to Isla for another two days.
“We were all standing at the pier waiting on the ferry and couldn’t believe our eyes when it just went right past us without stopping.
“The weather was pretty bad, but it was still a bit of a shock. I wasn’t really sure what we were all going to do, but luckily the locals are really friendly and hospitable.
“They opened up the shop, and the hotel and hostel kindly let us stay an extra night. I also believe some of the locals had spare bedrooms that were taken up.
“I heard some of the visitors managed to get the village hall opened and had a ceilidh, so it wasn’t all bad news.”
Local councillor Angus McPhee, one of the only two islanders to have Setanta installed, also helped out by inviting the football fans among the stranded to his home to watch the Scotland football match.
And shopkeeper Kier Johnston, who was left waiting on a delivery of fresh goods, mucked in out by re-opening his pier-side shop – the only one on the island.
He said: “It was really unfortunate for all the travelers.
“I heard they were stranded so decided to help out by opening the shop for an hour so everybody could stock up on the essentials.
“I know a few locals kindly opened their doors and let the visitors get a good night’s sleep. We couldn’t see them go without, it’s just not our way.
“Everyone helped out, and most of the visitors saw it all as a bit of an adventure.”
A spokesperson for Calmac Ferries said: “The safety of our passengers is paramount and from time to time it proves impossible for the ferry to dock.
“This was the case on Wednesday, but I can say it is a very rare event and, obviously, well out with our control.
“We are indebted to the islanders who pulled together to make sure all our passengers were looked after.
“The weather is still a bit choppy today, but the ferry has managed to pick everybody up and we hope there wasn’t too much inconvenience for the people concerned.”
By Alexander Lawrie