A ferry carrying essential supplies is due to visit North Ronaldsay tomorrow (Wednesday 19 February), almost three weeks since the island last received cargo by sea – and with this weekend’s scheduled sailing almost certain to be cancelled again.
Tomorrow’s visit, which is weather dependent, has been agreed at short notice – with favourable wind and tidal conditions forecast.
With Orkney Ferries currently operating only two outer North Isles vessels during the refit period, the special North Ronaldsay sailing will mean the cancellation of the 07:40 service from Kirkwall to Stronsay, Sanday and Eday.
In an effort to minimise disruption, the 10:35 sailing from Kirkwall to Stronsay and Sanday will now include Eday as well.
In addition, if weather and sea conditions are suitable - and if there is demand from customers - the vessel returning from North Ronaldsay will also call in to Stronsay, Sanday and Eday to pick up passengers and vehicles.
Brian Archibald, Orkney Islands Council’s Head of Marine Services, Engineering and Transport, said: “North Ronaldsay receives just one visit per week and depends on the ferry to transport a wide range of essential supplies that can’t be carried by air – including fuel and bulky animal feed.
“The last time a ferry was able to visit was on Saturday 1 February. This weekend’s scheduled sailing to North Ronaldsay would almost certainly have been cancelled, with more stormy weather forecast.
“The next scheduled sailing is on Saturday 29 February – a month since the last visit. In the circumstances, we’ve decided to take advantage of a potential weather window on Wednesday to deliver essential goods to the island to help prevent supplies from becoming seriously low.
“This is weather dependent and, if it goes ahead as planned, we appreciate this will cause disruption for folk in Stronsay, Sanday and Eday. We apologise in advance for this and we are putting timetable changes in place to minimise the impact as much as we can.”
Orkney Ferries is following its usual travel disruption procedure and advising booked customers directly about the changes.