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December 2020

News from Mallaig Harbour: November 2020

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The month started with our public meeting on Thursday 5th November as part of the Marine Licencing process for the Outer Harbour Development. Although the formal consultation period has now passed, the information is still online, you can access this through our website, and if anyone has any comments, then please feel free to send them to me. We’ve been having conversations with some of the key users of the Harbour to see what their requirements might be for any new development. There will obviously be financial constraints to what we can and can’t do, but any feedback allows us think strategically about the development.

November has seen the Outer Harbour being very busy with Aquaculture vessels, reinforcing the need for additional berthing and quay space. In some instances this has been due to vessels seeking shelter from the bad weather, but there have been a range of activities ongoing throughout the month. 

The first landing of Sprats was 5th November, and the fishery has continued throughout the month – the weather hasn’t been very consistent, but there have been some landings so it at least has been a bit of a boost to the end of the year. The sprat pump and the way they are landed always generates a lot of interest and activity on the Harbour.

Although the Marina is technically closed, we had a yacht arrived on Sunday 15th November, which was accompanying a Stand up Paddleboarder! Jordan Wylie is attempting to circumnavigate Great Britain on a Stand Up Paddleboard, raising money for Frontline Children. As he reached Mallaig, he was on day 114, and had travelled just over 2,000km! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t kind that week, and there were a few days that he was unable to make progress. If you want to follow Jordan’s progress, you can do so at

We also had the ‘Orca III’, the latest addition to the Mallaig Marine fleet on the pontoons for a few days.

We were due a visit from the Screen Machine this month, but unfortunately the weather scuppered this too, as the ferries were cancelled. I suspect that we must be the only place on the mainland that the Screen Machine can’t access without coming by ferry!

Some of you may have seen the posts from Lochaber Archive Centre in October, some of which focussed on Mallaig and the Harbour. There were two entries from the Mallaig Police Daily Occurrence Book. The first was from 27th July 1914 and states that the Skipper of a steam drifter had ‘called at my station, and reported to me that two herring nets belonging to him had been maliciously cut with a knife while … drying on an old mast on the fore-shore at Mallaig, value for £2:13: each, found no trace.’  This generated a fair bit of discussion in the office about nets drying around the Harbour – something I can’t remember, but some of you might!

The second entry dates from 07th September 1914. PC MacLean records:

‘…At 11am received a telephone message from Mr Durie, Stationmaster, Morar, that two men who had the appearance of Spys were then at Morar, photographing Morar Bridge etc. I proceeded there and on making enquiry learned they were two Glasgow men who had a Yacht in Mallaig harbour.’

It’s interesting to think that yachts were arriving in Mallaig over 100 years ago – no dedicated shore facilities for them then!

 Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour:

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It definitely feels like Winter has arrived – the Marina is now closed for the Season and CalMac are back on their winter timetables, so after what has felt like a very short season, things have quietened off again. The weather over the last two weeks of October was awful, which felt like it brought everything to a halt anyway! On the positive side, the Sprat Pump has been installed on the Harbour, and two of the local boats, the Caralisa and the Rebecca Jeneen are all geared up for the Sprat fishery, and hopeful of starting on 2nd November.

We’ve been getting used to the changes to the fish feed loading this month – with the Aqua Senior away, we have more regular but much smaller loadings of feed onto Ferguson’s Shipping landing crafts, rather than one large loading every few days as it was with the ‘Aqua Senior’.

Some of you may have noticed our Harbour Scarecrow which was part of the Scarecrow Trail – we made him from buoys, and called him ‘Bobby Buoy’ – it was great to see so many scarecrows throughout the area – especially when we have been unable to have any other community events this year.

By the time you read this, STV will have shown ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’ which filmed in Mallaig in August. At the time, we weren’t allowed to share this photo, as it was still a secret as to who was in which team, but it’s too good a photo not to share now!

Our public meeting on the proposals to develop more space in the Outer Harbour took place on 5th November, and you can view the presentation and download a copy of the consultation questionnaire from Affric’s website.

Our intention is to reclaim the area of the Outer Harbour that was previously earmarked for a relocation of the boatyard. We have considered various designs, but the existing construction of the breakwater is such that the most cost-effective design is to take a diagonal line from behind the old ice factory to where the piling begins on the outer breakwater. This design will:

  • Provide 60m of additional quay length capable of taking boats of up to 500 tonnes.
    • Provide 4000m2 of additional laydown
    • Ensure no reduction in the workable length of the Ice and Breakwater Quays.

In addition, we are considering deepening an area of the Outer Harbour. Current water depths in the outer harbour are -4mCD, however the existing infrastructure could facilitate water depths of -6m CD.  It would however require dredging, including blasting of rock and clearly that would have cost implications. It would also cause some disruption to the operation of the Harbour while the works were in progress.

If, having seen the proposals, you wish to make representations on the proposed development, please contact: Fiona Henderson, Affric Limited, Lochview Office, Loch Duntelchaig, Farr, IV2 6AW, by the 20th of November 2020.

As well as the proposals for this major development, we have also been working on some smaller proposals, including working with the new South Knoydart Community Council to apply for funding to install a shelter at the top of the new passenger access pontoon. Westwheels have also completed the installation of their electric charging point for their new electric van, which is within one of the Harbour car parks.

 Jacqueline McDonell