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August 2020

News from Mallaig Harbour: August 2020

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It’s hard to believe that it’s August already! Things are starting to feel a bit more normal on the Harbour, and especially in the office. Audrey, Pimmy and I are all back to working normal hours in the office, and Grace is in every morning to cheer up our days with her singing as she cleans the building to keep us all safe!

The Marina re-opened in mid-July, with reduced capacity, and some changes to the shore facilities so that we are able to maintain physical distancing. We’ve had visiting yachts most nights since re-opening, although obviously it not as busy as we would normally like at this time of year. We’ve welcomed back Michael MacLellan to help Chris with the Marina, and Gena MacLean is in charge of the shore facilities for this season.

One of the yachts that we have welcomed in this month was the ‘Good Dog’, being sailed round the United Kingdom by Mark Ashley Miller, who is raising funds and awareness for the charity Seafarers UK by circumnavigating Great Briatain meeting as many Harbour Masters as possible. We were the 81st Harbour, but only the 3rd of 2020 that Mark has visited, and he spent the morning on the Harbour, and was kindly given a tour of the MOWI salmon factory by Gillie. You can follow his story on Instagram @harbourmastersailingchallenge. Mark’s original intention on leaving Mallaig was to sail round Skye to Portree, but we suggested he could meet another Harbour Master if he called in at Canna on the way!

We have had North West Marine replacing all the pontoon chains, and Mallaig Marine replacing the yacht moorings for us, two jobs that we had hoped to have done at the start of the season, pre-lockdown! We are also expecting GSS to come week beginning 10th August to complete the works on the Loch Nevis berth and the Outer Harbour, which had to be paused for lockdown.

Mallaig Harbour Authority has now become accredited as a Living Wage Employer, which means that we pay all our employees at least the real Living Wage. In normal times, we would have had a staff photo with the plaque, but given that we can’t stand next to one another, it’s just me in the photo!   

CalMac have been operating a limited service from 1st July, and from the 8th August aim to increase the frequency of sailings to Armadale from four to five, Monday to Saturday and from 2 to 3 on a Sunday. The Lochboisdale sailings are running 6 days a week – everyday but Sunday, arriving at 11am and departing again at 12. The Small Isles sailings are also less frequent than the normal summer timetable would be, and not all of the islands are ready to welcome back visitors at the moment, so check before you plan your travel. Capacity is still reduced on all sailings, so booking is advised wherever possible, and CalMac have opened the bookings for all sailings up until 18th October.   

Western Isles Cruises have also reinstated their full timetable from 3rd August, although with limited numbers to enable physical distancing, so again you are better to book ahead. There are also limited facilities open on Knoydart so if you are intending on going for a day trip the Knoydart Resilience Group are asking that you think carefully and plan ahead before doing so. Western Isles Cruises have also been running hour long wildlife cruises to coincide with the Steam Train.  

I had a week off in July, which coincided with a visit to Mallaig by Kate Forbes MSP. In my absence, Charlie and Gavin took the opportunity to update Kate on the Harbour’s Masterplan, the outcome of the STAG appraisal, and the next steps that we are hoping to take.

Jacqueline McDonell