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01/08/2014

CalMac leads the way at the 2014 Commonwealth Games flotilla

CalMac leads the way at the 2014 Commonwealth Games flotilla

As part of the Commonwealth Games 2014 celebrations, the Royal Yachting Association Scotland organised the largest flotilla ever seen on the River Clyde.

I've been working with CalMac for 6 months now, and was delighted to be asked to join their boat in the flotilla. And the trip would be on the newest boat in their fleet- the MV Lochinvar.

The MV Lochinvar is an astonishing boat. It's a diesel electric hybrid that has recently been launched to deliver the service between Tarbert and Portavadie. She is one of only two passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries in the world that incorporates a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and lithium ion battery power. It also has a unique propulsion system, and many other cutting-edge technologies to make it the greenest boat in the CalMac fleet.

MV Lochinvar joins the CalMac Fleet

The day itself started as we met at 9am in Gourock. There were 135 guests who arrived, checked-in and received a goody bag as they boarded the boat.We were each given a very tasty lunch and a small bottle of bubble to use for celebrating the trip. The sun joined in and shone through light, patchy clouds as we set sail up the Clyde.

The MV Lochinvar had been chosen to lead the whole flotilla up the Clyde. So we sailed for Greenock and were met with a breathtaking sight -around 250 boats waiting to join the flotilla. We spent about 30 minutes 'forming up' in Greenock before the astonishing sight set sail for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

We were waved off by hundreds of people at Customs House as we set sail for the 17 nautical mile trip to Glasgow.

As we travelled along the Clyde, past Port Glasgow, Langbank, Dumbarton, Erskine, Clydebank, Renfrew and on into the city of Glasgow, we were greeted by bigger and bigger crowds.

It was amazing to be part of the flotilla, waving from the boat the crowds on the shore and seeing them wave back. We cheered at them and waved. The boats sounded their horns. The people on the shores waved their flags and cheered as we passed.

There were young people who would barely have seen a boat on the river, never mind 250 of them. And there were older people who would remember the Clyde as a working river. But none of them would have experienced the sight of pleasure boats cruising the river in such numbers.

Just after the Erskine Bridge a lone kayaker overtook (!) us. He paddled along for about 10 more minutes before one of the escort boats asked him to depart. As he turned to leave he was given rousing applause from the flotilla and a couple of the boats sounded their horns to salute him and his Herculean efforts.

As we approached the centre of Glasgow the river got busier, as did the crowds. By the time we got to Braehead Shopping Centre and the Riverside Museum I thought we must have George Clooney on board! There were thousands of people lining the shore, on both sides of the river.

It was really interesting to see the old industrial buildings that still line the river. Some have been given a new lease of life (for industrial use, or they've been turned into flats). Others lie derelict, at the mercy of the elements.

But it certainly reminded me of the industrial shipbuilding past of Glasgow, and how far the city has come in reinventing itself.

Our final berth was Pacific Quay, on the south side of the Clyde. At the foot of the Glasgow Science Centre tower there were hundreds of people, cheering the flotilla's arrival.

We docked, said goodbye to the new friends we'd met and headed off into the continuing celebrations that are the 20th Commonwealth Games.

After experiencing the flotilla and a couple of events at the end of last week, the Glasgow games truly are the friendly games.

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