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The Puffer

'Eilean Eisdeal'

The Latest addition to the
Inveraray Maritime Museum

The puffer

'Eilean Eisdeal' built in 1944 at Hull, she was one of the last VIC class puffers built (VIC 72) to have a loadline certificate to carry cargo and is powered by Diesel Engine.

VIC stands for Victualling Inshore Craft (Victual meaning Supplies)

She was operated by Easdale Shipping Company, working out of Ayr harbour as of 1994 and Easdale.

The puffers were designed to negotiate the Crinan Canal and their max length could not exceed 67 ft.
Fully laden the "Eilean Eisdeal" had a capacity to carry 132 tons general cargo at which she would draw 10'6 forward 11'6 aft.
Her cargo's included coal, hay, fish food, seaweed, kit homes, and assorted general cargo, and ran all over the West Coast of Scotland and as far south as Liverpool.

Refitted in 2001 and now operating from Inveraray she is seen here alongside the Pier.
alongside at Inveraray

Cruise Loch Fyne
Cruise Loch Fyne

The Main Diesel Engine
The Main Engine (one of three on board)

The Pier at Inveraray
Approaching Inveraray Pier viewed from the wheelhouse

Enquiries     tel: +44(0)1499 30 2213

manouvering off Inveraray
manouvering off Inveraray Pier

It is hoped to add more information to this page as it becomes available.
If you know anything about the puffer please email the editor

A Master's Tale - by Graham Calderbank

discharging coal at Muck
Picture of puffer by Graham Calderbank at Muck, discharging coal
I first saw Eilean Eisdeal in March 1991...joined as master at Lochmaddy, N Uist.
I have to say that as I watched her approach the pier, I thought "what the heck have you got into now, Graham!!!" or something like that.. She was on charter to a fish farming operation then.

I was with the ship until October that year, transferring to Eilean Mo Graidh for a while , then back to "the Puffer". I finally left her in August 94, having spent a lot of time being an English Para Handy, enjoying most of the all my years of seafaring, Puffer really does stand out.

I now work in the port of Liverpool, fuelling ships by barge.
Transferring cargo from Eilean Mo Graidh, I think at Uig, Skye but not certain.
At sea, on passage from Portrush to Eriskay, with housebuilding materials
Getting a mooring wire out of the prop, at Eriskay. I knew I'd caught something when the engine stopped dead!! No damage done, and a chance to try out a survival suit in safety.
Graham Ash (Gash) on washday at sea.
Gash relaxing
Gash hard at work, relaxing
At Sanda Island. Took several cargoes there, of lime for reseeding and a full cargo of building and general material.

at Scarinish harbour, Tiree. Took coal in and was there over a week because of bad weather. Put out every rope and wire I could find to avoid breaking adrift
Mull of Kintyre
Towing Eilean Mo Graidh. I was rounding Mull of Kintyre when I got a call to go and assist. The bigger ship's engine had broken down,in the North Channel, so puffer towed her into Ayr, before she drifted out into the Atlantic Ocean.......another few lines in the saga of Easdale Island Shipping!!
At Easdale. I went to the island to patch a hole in the ship. Every tide she was was really sad to see her just lying there.
At Rathlin Island, with coal. Got paid for the cargo in the pub...I had never seen so many different 50 and 20 notes. Dashed off to Portrush to bank it, and load another cargo in quick time, before the the big Holiday on the 12th.
Couldn't leave on a sad note, so here we are at Kerrera, discharging lime, loaded at Corpach, from Torlundy quarry.
Happy days.

Another past Skipper who made contact was Robert Shairp, master for 7 years previous to emigrating to Australia in 1991. Robert also found the wee boat to have been a very interesting period in his career at sea and is now employed as a tug master by Adsteam Marine down under in Australia.

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