SHETLAND’S inter island ferry service to Yell and Whalsay is returning to normal after a week of disruption caused by a fault on a single vessel.
The engineering fault, which had put the main Whalsay ferry Linga out of action since Sunday, meant a rocky start for the council’s new electronic booking system on Yell Sound.
Both services are now back to normal after a Danish specialist resolved the Linga’s problem, allowing the vessel to return for the 5.45pm Whalsay run on Thursday.
Trouble began on Sunday when Shetland Islands Council pulled Linga out of service after an intermittent fault with one of its three generators got worse.
To compensate, Whalsay’s second ferry Hendra took over Linga’s schedule, and Fivla was brought in from Yell Sound to take on Hendra’s role.
Fivla had been standing in on Yell Sound for Dagalien, which is currently undergoing its annual service in Lerwick.
As a result the SIC had to draft in standby ferry Thora from Sella Ness to cover for Fivla, which caused extra complications due to her relatively small size.
SIC ferries manager Colin Manson said the council’s new cost-saving electronic booking system had been due to start operating on Yell Sound on Monday, having already taken 1,200 bookings on Whalsay during the previous two weeks.
However the system’s introduction was postponed with the change in vessels, as crews had to individually manage deck space on each sailing to ensure as many vehicles could board as possible.
“With the smaller vessel Thora we had very restricted deck space, so while two cars could fit side by side, two people carriers could not,” Manson explained.
“So we decided to suspend bookings for Yell Sound altogether so crews could configure vehicles to maximise deck space.”
Meanwhile the Danish specialist had been commissioned to fly in to Shetland on Wednesday to tackle Linga’s problems.
Fog meant his flight was cancelled so he did not arrive until Thursday morning, and spent all day establishing the problem was connected to an electronic governor restricting the amount of fuel getting to one of the vessel’s three generators.
The problem was rapidly fixed allowing the council’s ferries to return to their normal roles, with Fivla due to start operating on Yell Sound on Friday morning.
The council’s new ferry booking system can be accessed here.
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