Whatever happened to the Solundir?

A few weeks ago fast catamaran "Solundir" was carried on board another vessel "Beluga Faith" which passed through the Clyde.

I blogged on the 5th of April about how:

""if you want a footnote to how far this process of degradation has gone there was some excitement on the Clyde a few weeks ago when a vessel "Beluga Faith" docked on the Clyde carrying a fast catamaran "Solundir" It was thought that "Solundir" was destined for the Gourock-Dunoon tender, but it was easy to check that Beluga Faith was in fact headed for Luba in Equatorial Guinea. Compared to the two vessels currently on the Gourock-Dunoon route, the Solundir is much superior to Ali Cat and much younger than Jupiter. Good for Equatorial Guinea (if that is indeed where Solundir is headed), but that is what we have been reduced to when the service here may be degraded below levels being set by a developing country, and where the prospects are that the present tender will degrade this even further. The fact that no-one seems to have noticed this or just takes it for granted just shows how far things have gone What a way to run -actually ruin - a ferry service, and indeed a whole network".

So what did happen to the Solundir, a vessel of a quality, performance and vintage that those of us on the Clyde can only dream off?

Last traced position I could find for Beluga Faith was four days ago when it had rounded the Cape and was just north of Durban. But before that it had offloaded Solundir en route (note the French), Solundir has been renamed Bekelya, and tomorrow (15th April 2011) it is due to start its new role as regular ferry transportation between Lubreville and Port Gentil in Gabon. There are a number of reports in French in the Gabonese media on this, see for example (you may have to delete a pop up if your browser does not delete pop ups)

It used to be that CalMac gave their old vessels to developing countries. Now in Gourock-Dunoon we have had the sight of catamaran MV Solundir on its way to Gabon sailing past catamaran MV Ali Cat, the latter a vessel pensioned off from trips round the bay and not allowed by MCA (the safety regulator) to sail in more than knee-high waves - but deemed "suitable" for Gourock-Dunoon. And we are told in all seriousness by the government that we are lucky to have this "service", it could have been (and may well yet be) much worse.

It is because most are now used to this and take it for granted that they do not realise the levels of degradation that this has now reached

Neil Kay, 14th April 2011