On 5th May 1979 the 15 year old passenger and car ferry Columba left the Caledonian MacBrayne shipping company's headquarters at Gourock in Renfrewshire at 0915 and sailed out to the mouth of the Firth of Clyde passing the islands of Great and Lesser Cumbrae, Bute and Arran The vessel rounded the world famous Mull of Kintyre and entered the waters of the southern Hebrides.
Columba arrived at Oban North Pier at 2020 that evening and approximately one hour was spent unloading the complement of cars that she had carried round from Gourock
In this view she is seen berthed at the North Pier, Oban with a bow loading Caledonian MacBrayne 'Island'class' ferry and the Western Ferries' passenger catamaran Highland Seabird also alongside.
At 2200 Columba left the North Pier with approximately 280 passengers aboard for the most unusual sailing of her entire MacBrayne career. She headed up the Sound of Mull and, not long after midnight, she was passing the famous lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly headland of the British mainland. Her course was set towards Lochboisdale on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.