Hundreds of visitors to the Scottish island of Arran were left stranded on Sunday after high winds and choppy waters forced the cancellation of ferry services to the mainland.
The main route from Arran was closed due to the poor weather conditions, which left ferries unable to dock at Ardrossan – a harbour town on Scotland’s western coast.
Those attempting to leave the island were subsequently forced to travel from Lochranza via a smaller ferry, capable of carrying only 23 cars at a time, to Argyll.
Faced with lengthy queues and long waits, some in excess of four hours, the main ferry operator on Arran said it managed to get 154 out of 217 waiting cars off the island on Sunday.
Ferry sailings to Ardrossan were also cancelled on Monday morning, but service is expected to have resumed by this afternoon.
Gavin Fulton, chairman of the Arran Ferry Action Group, said people on the island, the largest in the Firth of Clyde, were living with travel difficulties “almost every week”.
“We absolutely accept that there will be days in the year when the ferry won’t sail, but the situation in the past was the boat sailed to Ardrossan on a regular basis and when the weather was bad the boat sailed to Gourock,” Mr Fulton told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
“Although we would get less sailings in a day, we still had a secure link to the mainland. Some years ago the boat stopped sailing to Gourock and there has been no credible explanation as to why it does not sail to Gourock now.”
Facilities at Ardrossan harbour and ageing ferries have also been blamed, while the provision of a modern replacement ferry for the main Arran route has been delayed due to construction issues.
“Obviously new boats are required. The current fleet is very old and prone to a lot of breakdowns, which is making the situation difficult,” Mr Fulton added.
“There are other problems. Ardrossan is not a good harbour. They are planning to spend £35m altering it for the new ferry which, if it ever arrives, would be going there.
“Would that expenditure solve the situation? They’ve spent £31m at Brodick and the pier is hopelessly compromised. It doesn’t work properly in an easterly wind. So this to me all comes down to incompetence and mismanagement.”
CalMac, which runs Arran’s main ferry services, defended the decision to enforce cancellations in testing weather conditions.
Director of operations Robert Morrison said: “In such conditions ships’ masters will take a decision on whether it is safe to sail or not based on wind speed and direction, sea swell and tidal conditions combined with their experience of sailing in west coast waters.”