“Plastic soap dish” is the term we now use to describe small, light, noisy GRP craft like the 7 metre motor launch which chugged from Croig to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles with a handful of intrepid (and frequently seasick) holidaymakers for the first few summers.
Happily, by 1980, a new larger purpose built craft improved conditions for operators and passengers alike.
In 1982 , Turus Mara, (Gaelic for a journey or excursion by sea) became the official company name. By ’89 there were two vessels with a total capacity of 130 operating from Ulva Ferry daily throughout the summer taking cruises to Staffa, The Treshnish Isles and Iona.
Meet the Turus Mara Family
Iain still lives in the crofthouse where he was born at Penmore Mill, near Dervaig. After 10 years as deck officer in the Merchant Navy, he returned to his roots and family.
The mission statement at this point would have been considered as a bit vague, certainly the profits nonexistent but the good days perhaps indicated that there was potential for a quality of life which might avoid the motorways and dollar chasing, backstabbing business practices of the 20th Century. Clearly, crofting had reached an all-time economic low and would not sustain a family so, the tourist industry in its relative infancy on Mull, was the likely future.
When these words were first uttered:- “what’s it like to have the best job in the world?” and repeated a few times over the years – we have to consider – life’s maybe not bad after all! “As long as it’s not blowing up a hooly and we have no horizontal stair rods, the vast majority have a great time and that is very satisfying for us”.
Colin, Iain’s son, was born on Mull and grew up at Penmore Mill, where his grandfather and great-grandfather had been crofting tenants.
Education includes Dervaig Primary, Tobermory & Oban High Schools, Scottish Studies and History at Strathclyde University, travelling in Europe, New Zealand & Thailand.
He started as crew in the nineteen-eighties, and after his sojourn in higher education returned to his roots and the family business and now skippers the “Island Lass”.
Colin is chairman of North West Mull Community Woodland Company, helps run the Family Restaurant – Am Birlinn and occasionally finds time to hang out with sons Murdo and Laurie
and partner Julie.