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Audrey McKay

News from Mallaig Harbour: June 2021

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There is a definite buzz about the Harbour this month, with much more activity throughout. Part of this is Development Activity – including the works to the RNLI pontoon. The new pontoon arrived on the 2nd June so if you have ever wondered what a pontoon looks like out of the water, we’ve included a photo of it on the back of the lorry.

 We are also amazed at the volume of building materials heading to Knoydart and the Small Isles. The miles and miles of pipework for the hydro on Knoydart is particularly impressive! 

There are more fishing boats in the Harbour, and more landings, which we are glad to see. The hot weather means that the boats need more ice, so even the increase in ice orders being phoned through to the office is hopefully an indication that things are improving for the fishing industry. Some of you may have seen the press release issued by Marine Scotland about the funding for our shore power – which I mentioned last month. We had to take some photos for this, so in case you haven’t noticed the new boxes, this is what they look like. We’ve already had a wee incident with one of them, so we’ve ordered some yellow barriers to make them more obvious!

Our passenger shelter has already been well used, and we have had permission from Transport Scotland to purchase a bike rack, so this and the luggage rack will be added. As part of the grant conditions, we have to gather feedback from users on the shelter. To do this, we have set up a very short questionnaire, which you can access online –  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XT93873. You are also welcome to email us at the Harbour Office with any comments or suggestions about the shelter.

It has been lovely to welcome back some visiting yachts to the Marina, and it has been getting steadily busier throughout May. Although the shore facilities are open, we can only have one crew at a time using them, so we are asking crews to book. This, and the other COVID-19 protocols are available on our website and on our Facebook page.

2nd June was the first day of the Lord of The Isles resuming its regular sailings from Mallaig for the summer, after the Loch Seaforth returned to service on Monday 31st May. Unfortunately, there are ongoing issues at both Muck and Eigg which mean that the Small Isles timetables are liable to disruption at short notice so it’s not quite ‘back to normal’ just yet.

Last month we were hopeful that it would be third time lucky for the Screen Machine, and we are pleased to report that it was, and that we welcomed the Screen Machine back for three nights from 20th to 22nd May. They are also operating at limited capacity, and were originally only due to show films on two nights, but had to add an extra date due to demand – so obviously we weren’t the only ones pleased to have them back!   

Our AGM is due to be held on Friday 18th June. Given the ongoing restrictions, we have decided to postpone the public meeting until September, when we should be able to meet in person and provide some more details about the developments at various stages around the Harbour.

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: May 2021

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Things are slowly getting back to normal around the Harbour, with a bit more activity than in previous months.

We’ve re-opened the Marina, from 26th April, with additional COVID-19 protocols in place. We’ve welcomed back Gena MacLean for the season, and although it has been a quiet start, with only one or two yachts each day, we’re delighted to be able to accommodate yachts again, and it’s nice to hear the extra ‘chatter’ on the VHF. We’re aware that the Government is encouraging anyone travelling to the islands to take a COVID-19 test prior to going, so we are encouraging those travelling by yacht to do the same.

The CalMac Summer timetable began on 26th April, although the issues with the Loch Seaforth mean that the Lord of the Isles is operating from Oban until at least 17th May, which means that there is no Mallaig/Lochboisdale service at the moment, and only the Loch Fyne is operating from Mallaig, restricting capacity on the Mallaig/Armadale route. This year’s timetable was scheduled to have less sailings than previous years, with the Lord of the Isles departing earlier in the afternoon for Lochboisdale, so it will be interesting to see the impact of this on tourism locally as the season progresses. Western Isles Cruises begin running their full timetable on 3rd May, but with changes to the one-hour cruises to reflect the change in the Steam Train times, so check the website to book!  

The passenger shelter has been installed, and we have purchased transit wheelchairs and two trollies to help with transporting shopping and luggage up and down the ramp. The storage shed for these is en-route, but won’t arrive until June, so bear with us until then! Niki Robertson worked with Falco to come up with the design for the shelter – which we are delighted with – so hopefully the users will agree!

The shore power ‘boxes’ are another new addition to the pier and will take a wee bit of getting used to in terms of vehicle movements around them. We’re very grateful to Paul and Owen Harrold, and to HF Electrical, who have pulled out all the stops to deliver the system within the tight timescale imposed for us to access the funding. Ian Coates kindly gave us a copy of the booklet produced for the inauguration of the New Harbour Facilities for Fishing Vessels on 20th September 1972. Under ‘Lighting and Electrical Work’, the booklet states that, “The whole harbour electrical system has been renewed…. A new switchroom adjacent to the ice factory on the Steamer Pier distributes the incoming supply to the lighting system and new buildings. The switchroom also houses two D.C. rectifier units for shore to ship supply. Ducts in the new pier carry relayed TV to ship connection points at 5O ft. Centres. It must have been very modern at the time – almost 50 years on and we have just installed new shore power.  No need for the relayed TV though – who would have imagined 50 years ago that TV would be beamed wirelessly from satellites, and that you could watch programmes on your phone!  

This month we have been awarded funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise towards the pre-construction costs associated with the proposed development in the Outer Harbour. This will allow us to undertake some more preparatory work, including more investigation to see how deeply the Harbour could be dredged, with a view to tenders being ready to be issued in November. The Marine Licencing process is ongoing in the background, and we are hopeful that this will be resolved by the time tenders are issued. We will then be in a position to assemble a funding package for the project. In the meantime, we are continuing to progress smaller developments such as those mentioned above, as and when we can.   

The timetable for easing of restrictions in Scotland highlighted 17th May as a potential date for cinemas to re-open, and we are keeping everything crossed that this is the case, as Mallaig is scheduled for a visit from the Screen Machine at the end of that week. Our previous two scheduled visits have had to be cancelled – in November because of the weather, and in January because of the lockdown so let’s hope that it’s third time lucky!

Our AGM is due to be held on Friday 18th June. This meeting is open to the public, and if at all possible, we would like to host it in person. We’ll provide more details next month, and on our Facebook page nearer the time, but if you are interested in what is going on, then please make a note of the date now.  

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: April 2021

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We are continuing to progress with projects around the Harbour, and since last month, we have been fortunate enough to be successful in our application to the Scottish Government for funds to install shore power for the fishing fleet. This fund had a very quick turnaround, with works to be complete within the financial year, but it’s something that fishermen have been requesting for a number of years, so it’s great to finally have the funds to make it a reality. There are 6 ‘towers’, each with a combination of single phase and three phase connection points, in the scheme, which was designed based on the requirements of the local fishing fleet.

There has been no secret over the last few months about the difficulties the fishing industry has been facing, so it was interesting that a relative of mine came across this article from 17th July 1894 as part of a scrapbook in Cockenzie House, and was kind enough to send it up.

“Mr William Anderson Smith, Commissioner for the Fishery Board of Scotland said there was a great difference between herring caught on the west as compared to those got on the east coast. The former were too rich, and would not stand carriage either in a fresh or salted condition. They had to be sent to markets near at hand. The west coast crabs were too small to be of any value, and as for the west coast cod, they were not worth much more than 4d as compared with 2s 4d got for cod on the east coast, as they were small and of inferior quality. The effort of the government to turn the Crofters into fishermen had not been a success. Upwards of £30,000 had been invested with the object in view but it had been an absolute failure. He did not believe they had created a single new fisherman, and the bulk of the boats had been thrown back on their hands. The Crofter stuck to his land and would do nothing else. There had been much less fishing throughout the West since the date of the Crofter’s Act. The security of tenure on their crofts had made them less desirous to fish, and on those boats where one of the crew was a crofter, he frequently kept the boat from going to sea, as he devoted his time to the land. The fishing in the West Highlands had for years been decreasing, and they had now to face competition with Norway and Sweden, which reduced the price of second-class fish. The white fishing inside the Hebrides was of no value at all. The fish were so full of roe that they would not carry to market, and even if the Mallaig line were made, the fish would be of little value to the Southern markets. The bulk of the people in the district to be affected would not go to sea. He had a very poor opinion of Mallaig as a place for a Harbour; and, as a Fishery Commissioner would decline to grant it any money to convert it into a fishing harbour….

In further examination [he] said he did not think this Mallaig line would benefit the West Highlands”

Thankfully, someone disagreed and Mallaig benefitted from both the Harbour and the Railway not long after!

We are hopeful that the Marina will re-open from 26th April in line with the easing of restrictions, but we are awaiting further guidance on this mid-April. CalMac have published their summer timetables, which are also due to start on 26th April. Although there is obviously a bit of nervousness about restrictions easing, it will be nice to see a bit more activity on the visitor side. There has been lots of freight activity on the Harbour recently, with loads of plant and equipment heading to Knoydart in preparation for the works on the Hydro scheme, and all the materials needed for a new house build on Knoydart too. It’s one of the perks of having an office overlooking the Harbour that you get to see all the comings and goings for building projects on Knoydart and the Small Isles!  We’re often first to know about any filming going on locally as they request permissions to film on the Harbour, and by the time you read this, Sandi Toksvig will have been filmed for the next series of her ‘Great Escapes’. Hopefully the weather will have been kind to her and her crew!

It’s also the time of year where we advertise for new Board Members, and you will see the advert in the vacancies section of the web site. When Mallaig Harbour Authority was reconstituted in 2012, in line with Scottish Government guidance, the new constitution allowed for Board Members to serve two, three-year terms; and under exceptional circumstances, a third term. At the end of their second term, Board Members were in the midst of the development of the Masterplan, and it was agreed that they should serve a third term to see the Masterplan published. However, we are now at the stage where all the original Board Members who began in 2012 will have retired this year. Board Members are not directly involved in the operations of the Harbour, but provide support and guidance on the strategic direction of the Harbour Authority, including future plans. Although there are some uncertainties about vessel deployment which need to be resolved before the business case for the new Breakwater proposed by the Masterplan can be made, we have a number of shorter-term development plans, including the Outer Breakwater Development. We have three vacancies to fill, and if you would be interested in becoming a Board Member, I’d be happy to talk through what it involves.

Jacqueline McDonell

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 www.thegreatbritishpaddle.com.

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. http://www.affriclimited.co.uk/News/Consultations.php.

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, consultation@affriclimited.co.uk 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

Ice Quay and Breakwater Quay Extensions Pre-Application Consultation Update

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Mallaig Harbour Authority  held a pre-application consultation event on Zoom on Thursday 5th of November 2020. Thank you to those who attended on the night. If you were unable to attend, and would like to watch the Video of the event please click here.

If you would like to view the presentation slides only then please click here.

Click here to download a copy of the consultation questionnaire. Completed forms can be emailed to consultation@affriclimited.co.uk or posted to Affric Limited, Lochview Office, Loch Duntelchaig, Farr, Inverness, IV2 6AW: Please return forms by the 20th of November 2020 to ensure your views can be taken account of.

Please note, representations made to Mallaig Harbour Authority or Affric Limited are not representations to the Scottish Ministers. Once the Marine Licence Application has been submitted there will be an opportunity for representations to be made to the Scottish Ministers on the application.

Ice Quay and Breakwater Quay Extensions

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Mallaig Harbour Authority

Marine (Scotland) Act 2010

Ice Quay and Breakwater Quay Extensions

Notice is hereby given that Mallaig Harbour Authority intends to apply to Scottish Ministers for consent to construct a splay berth quay between the Ice Quay and the Outer Breakwater Quay and create additional laydown space in the Outer Harbour area.

Mallaig Harbour Authority will be holding a pre-application consultation event online via the video conferencing application ‘Zoom’. The event will be taking place on Thursday 5th November 2020, starting at 7pm. The event will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consider and comment upon the prospective application, and is open to anyone with an interest in the development. To participate in the meeting, visit https://zoom.us, select Join a meeting and use the meeting code 958 4810 9482.  If you wish to be emailed these event details, please contact:consultation@affriclimited.co.uk

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

Please note, representations made to Mallaig Harbour Authority or Affric Limited are not representations to the Scottish Ministers. Once the Marine Licence Application has been submitted there will be an opportunity for representations to be made to the Scottish Ministers on the application.

News from Mallaig Harbour: October 2020

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September seems to have passed quickly – which is always a good sign! The Marina has continued to be busy throughout the month, although unfortunately we didn’t have enough space for the ‘Ngoni’ – which some of you might have seen passing into Loch Nevis on the 21st and 22nd September. For those of you who didn’t, ‘Ngoni’ is one of the largest sailing yachts in the world, at 190 feet (58 metres), with a 71metre high mast – so just a bit big for our wee pontoons! She was quite a sight though, and did send in a tender to offload some passengers in Mallaig.

The pandemic has meant that we haven’t been able to welcome back the ‘Eda Frandsen’ this summer, and she has now been sold by James and Chloe to new owners, Mungo and Stella. Mungo is originally from Ballachulish and Stella grew up on the Helford river. We look forward to welcoming them next year, when hopefully things will be a bit more ‘normal’! 

The month began with the arrival of the ‘Arwen’, the newest addition to the Western Isles fleet. ‘Arwen’ is an ex-Mersey class lifeboat, which has been re-painted and re-fitted by A.Noble and Sons, and will be used primarily for the transport of High School pupils to and from the Small Isles.

We then had the Taumar, a newly-built Norwegian well boat operating out of the Harbour for a fortnight, harvesting fish from Grieg Seafood sites on Skye.

On Saturday 26th September, we bade farewell to the ‘Aqua Senior’, which has been a regular fixture in the Harbour over the past few years, loading fish feed for EWOS / Cargill to be taken to sites around the West Coast. Ewos sent the ‘Ulla’ to do one loading in the following week. The ‘Ulla’ is bigger than the Aqua Senior, and loads on the opposite side, so it took a bit of juggling, but we managed!

We had another ‘virtual’ Board Meeting on 11th September, at which we approved the Annual Report and Accounts for the y/e 31st March 2020. As usual, the Annual Report highlighted some of the activity on the Harbour, and I have included some excerpts from it below.

Fish Landings/Dues

Landing volumes and monetary values for the current year, the two previous years plus two other random years (for comparative purposes) are listed:

Volume in tonnes
Year ended 31st MarchHerringSprats/ MackerelWhitefishShellfishTotal Value
19789,48310,4253,712887£7,640,036
19844051,5825,3731,055£5,195,726
201841013755661184£7,642,865
201900397752£4,746,544
20200121292683£4,480,546

Mallaig Harbour Ice:

In our first year of operation, we have sold 1,017 tonnes of ice, and the chart below shows the distribution of this by month. During August, September and October we supplied ice to MOWI, while they were awaiting their own new ice plant being commissioned.

Fish Feed

During the year ending March 2020, 45,043 tonnes of fish feed was shipped through Mallaig a 9% increase on the previous year.

CalMac/Tourism

The volume of cars and passengers conveyed on the CalMac ferries based at Mallaig during the year – MV “Loch Bhrusda”; MV “Loch Fyne”; MV “Lochnevis”; and MV “Lord of The Isles” – indicates an upturn when compared to the previous year, and more significantly, given the disruption in the y/end March 2019, also an upturn on figures for 2018.  Commercial vehicles are down on all three routes, while passengers were up 9.6%, cars up 15.4% and coaches up 4%.

Year end31 March 202031st March 201931st March 2018
Passengers365,164332,944343,847
Cars89,06977,18182,230
Coaches2,4642,3672,375
Commercials662825851

It is worth noting the increases on the Mallaig-Lochboisdale route in particular, where both passenger and car numbers were up over 38% on the previous year. This service is obviously becoming more established and well-used, but again suffers from the challenges facing CalMac with regard to their fleet, and the need for the Lord of The Isles to be redeployed to cover when other vessels on different routes are not operational for various reasons.

Previous years have noted the disruption to the services from Mallaig, and 2019 was no exception, with 54 days of tidal restrictions leading to over 200 scheduled cancelations, and 177 cancelled sailings for April – September 2019, with a further 84 in October. The unreliability of the timetable makes it less attractive for commercial vehicles, and for much of the summer, the Mallaig-Armadale route operates at capacity, making further growth without a dedicated vessel extremely challenging.

March 2020 saw the introduction of a three-year pilot of additional sailings between Mallaig and Armadale, utilising the ‘Loch Bhrusda’. These were timetabled from the 6th March until the Summer timetable was due to start on 27th March, and were initially well utilised. Unfortunately, restrictions on travel imposed with ‘lockdown’ associated with the Coronavirus mean that the first year of this trial will not be representative.

Developments

West Bay Road Access: After procurement, the contract for the West Bay Road Access was awarded to Fion Construction, and work started on 22nd August, continuing until the end October.

Energy Efficiency: Resource Efficient Scotland undertook an energy survey of the Harbour, and produced a report highlighting potential energy saving measures that could be implemented, some of which would attract an interest free loan. Quotes are being sourced for LED lighting throughout the Harbour, and consideration is being given to other energy saving measures to be incorporated into any future developments.

Renunciation of Denholms Office and Ice Factory: In December the renunciation of the leases for the empty office upstairs in the Harbour Buildings and the old Ice Factory was completed. Plans have been drawn up to convert the office into three smaller offices, and provide welfare facilities for those using the building. The old Ice Factory provides an opportunity to create more industrial space quayside, and to potentially provide new workspace for Harbour Authority staff, but these options need to be investigated further. 

Re-facing of the ‘Splay Berth’

Work started to remove all the metal rubbing strips from the piling on the ‘Splay Berth’ (which is mainly used by the Loch Nevis), to re-galvanise and replace these. Whilst most of the work was undertaken prior to the financial year end, and the berth has been left safe to use, Coronavirus restrictions meant that this work is not complete, and will be a priority when restrictions are lifted.

Future Developments

I mentioned last month the proposals to develop more space in the Outer Harbour, which will be discussed at a public meeting on 5th November. I have included a drawing of the proposed development, which is effectively designed to fill in the ‘corner’ in the outer breakwater.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consider and comment upon the prospective application. Full details on how to join the event will be displayed at https://www.mallaig-harbour.com/news/ , 10 days prior to the event. If you wish to be emailed event details, please contact:  consultation@affriclimited.co.uk. 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, consultation@affriclimited.co.uk by the 12th of November 2020.

 Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: September 2020

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August has seemed a much busier month now that lockdown has eased a bit, with more activity around the Harbour, and the Marina welcoming a number of visiting yachts throughout the month. We’re still not able to welcome as many yachts as we would in a normal year, but it’s been nice to see the masts bobbing about in the Harbour again. All our staff are now back at work, and we were able to help Simon celebrate his big birthday on 14th August, by having a ‘socially distanced’ slice of cake with him!

We’ve also been busy with celebrities passing through – Romesh Ranganathan took the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, during filming for ‘The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan’, to be broadcast around Christmas. It then felt like the whole village came to a standstill on Wednesday 26th August, as we welcomed two teams of celebrities who were rowing the length of Britain for a new ITV series ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’. The two rowing boats arrived on the pontoons late on Tuesday evening, after a few changes to the schedule because of the weather. The picnic area at the top of Cameron Avenue was taken over by the film crew, and those celebrities who weren’t rowing, while another crew filmed those celebrities who were in the boats from the pontoon. Audrey and I presented those on the pontoons with a miniature each of ‘Mallaig Harbour Water’ as a souvenir, and although the production crew weren’t very sure about the rowers setting off with whisky in their dry bags – the rowers themselves were determined it was coming with them on the boats! I’m sure that there will be better photographs elsewhere this month, but I have included some of mine. We were asked not to give away who was on which team, but, in no particular order, those who left rowing from Mallaig were, James Cracknell, Denise Lewis, Victoria Pendleton, Kimberly Wyatt, Fleur East, Jodie Kidd, Adam Thomas and Jack Fincham. For both days of filming, the weather was beautiful, so hopefully it will showcase the area at its best!

As well as celebrities, there has been a lot of wildlife around this month, so much so that I could watch the dolphins playing in the Harbour from the office window at lunchtime on 25th August!  

One of the advantages of lockdown has been that many meetings and training events, which would normally be too far to travel to, have been held online. I was therefore able to attend the British Ports Association (BPA) AGM ‘virtually’ this month, and undertake some Health and Safety training organised by the BPA as well. Throughout lockdown the BPA have provided support and guidance, and have lobbied the Government on behalf of Ports, so it was great to have the opportunity to attend the AGM.

We were also finally able to hold interviews and appoint new Board Members. We’re very grateful to Allan Henderson and Johnny MacMillan, who should have finished their term in March, but agreed to stay on until we were able to recruit new Board Members. Both Allan and Johnny have served three terms on the Board since it was reconstituted in 2012, although both have longer associations than that with the Harbour. During their time as Board Members they have made significant contributions to the operations and the development plans for the Harbour, and both will be missed. We’re delighted to have appointed two ladies to replace them, Niki Robertson, who is based in Mallaig, and Shona MacLeay, who is based in Fort William but has worked on a range of Harbour Projects throughout the Highlands and Islands. This means that we now have a perfectly gender balanced Board, with four males and four females (excluding me!).

Our next Board meeting is Friday 11th September, and we had hoped that we would be able to have an open AGM and invite members of the public to learn more about our development plans. However, restrictions still in force mean that this will not be possible – we’ll try again in mid -November. In the meantime, some of you may have seen in the Oban Times on Thursday 27th August, an advert for a public meeting to be held via ‘Zoom’ on Thursday 5th November 2020, starting at 7pm. Mallaig Harbour Authority intends to apply to Scottish Ministers for consent to construct extensions to the Ice Quay and Outer Breakwater Quay. This is effectively to provide more quay space in the area of the Outer Breakwater which is rock armour at the moment. This development was included in the Masterplan, but as a later phase. We are awaiting detailed drawings from our Engineer, and as soon as we have these, we will share them on the website and on Facebook.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consider and comment upon the prospective application. Full details on how to join the event will be displayed at https://www.mallaig-harbour.com/news/ , 10 days prior to the event. If you wish to be emailed event details, please contact:  consultation@affriclimited.co.uk. 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, consultation@affriclimited.co.uk by the 12th of November 2020.

 Jacqueline McDonell

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