Thankfully the weather did hold for the Marina Fun Day, even although the Bucking Bronco unfortunately cancelled on the morning of the event because the forecast wasn’t looking good. Feedback was that the day was enjoyed by everyone who attended, and I have to say a special thanks to Pimmy and Audrey who as usual were behind the scenes making sure everything went smoothly. Thanks are also due to Nevis Estates who provided refreshments for the day; to Andy and Rose, Ross and Helen who helped with the barbecue throughout the day; to Allan MacKenzie for piping and to those from the RNLI and Fishermen’s Mission who manned the stalls and provided entertainment for the younger ones.
The Marina has had a busy season so far. For the first four weeks in July we had 455 berth nights occupied, which compares well to last year’s total of 454 for the whole month, and even to 2019’s total of 498 for the month. We are seeing a trend of larger vessels, which reduces the capacity of the marina, and regular visits from the Pellew, Eda Frandsen and Selkie mean that the hammerheads are also well used. Pellew has now left us for the season, but Eda Frandsen is with us until 11th September. We have also welcomed back the Blue Clipper this month, who along with Provident is using the Harbour as both are too heavy for the pontoons. Last month I mentioned we were a member of staff down on the Harbour. Hugh is still off, and Chris has also had to take time off from the Marina this month, so we have been juggling staffing a bit. Ross and Gena have been holding the fort in Chris’ absence, joined by Ruairidh, who came home from college for a break and was landed straight in at the deep end! We are really appreciative of our staff who step up to keep things operating as normal regardless of what is thrown at them!
Fishing has also remained steady throughout the month, with reasonable catches being landed by our local and some visiting boats. This has mainly been shellfish, and very limited quantities of white fish. After the really low landings of 2020 and 2021, it’s great to see them picking up a bit – although I realise that it’s all relative, and that the landings being made are much lower than even 10 years ago!
We said goodbye to the Reul a’Chuain this month, as her new owner, Justin, sailed off to start the boat’s next chapter after spending several months working on her in the Harbour.
We met with Kate Forbes on 17th July to talk through our plans for the Harbour and look at alternative funding options and how to progress with the project. Kate also took the opportunity to meet with some of the local fisherman to talk through their concerns about HPMA’s and to listen to their thoughts on what any replacement proposals should consider.
We also had a debrief with the Scottish Islands Federation and others who were involved in the Marine Litter Pilot, which resulted in ropes and nets from the Small Isles and Skye being taken for recycling by Ocean Plastic Pots, supported by Keep Britain Tidy. We all agreed that the initiative had worked well, and can hopefully be repeated again next year.
Some of you will have noticed accommodation cabins have arrived in the West Bay car park in the first week of August. These have been brought up by Wyre Marine Services, who have the contract to remove rock off the harbour in Eigg, which has been causing a disruption to ferry services. The work is due to take two weeks, and the cabins have been brought in for crew accommodation, as they weren’t able to secure alternative accommodation locally.
Finally, the Mallaig branches of the RNLI and Fishermens’ Mission fundraising groups are hosting a gala day on the Harbour on Sunday 13th August. This will be the first gala day since pre-pandemic, and will be on a slightly smaller scale than previous gala days. It’s being held on Sunday as there were no suitable Saturday dates that didn’t clash with other events. If you are in the area, please come along and support there two worthwhile causes!