I’m a bit later in writing this month, but things are changing so quickly that it might be no bad thing! It’s the 1st July, and I have just watched the Lord of the Isles arrive, and for the first time there are a few vehicles in the marshalling area waiting to sail to Lochboisdale. It’s a wee bit of normality on the Harbour, which is quite nice to see!
CalMac have published their timetable from the 1st July, which includes four sailings a day on the Loch Fyne between Mallaig and Armadale, and three sailings a week between Lochboisdale and Mallaig – on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Capacity is reduced on all sailings, so booking is advised wherever possible, and at the moment, CalMac are only taking bookings for up to a fortnight in advance.
Western Isles Cruises are still running their lifeline service, rather than a full timetable, and during July will also be transporting visitors who have accommodation booked on Knoydart, but no day-trippers, campers or walkers.
From today, we will have more staff back on the pier – albeit part-time at the moment. Sandy came back to work at the beginning of June, and Danny and Hugh are returning for July. We’ve re-arranged the office slightly, and hopefully Audrey will be back in the office from week beginning 13th July, so it will be staffed again during normal office hours.
The fishing fleet has had another good month of weather, but some of the usual markets are still closed, and one vessel landed prawns throughout the month, only to have the buyer pull out. Some of them were sold locally, but unfortunately, some of them were wasted – it’s unlikely that this would have happened if local businesses had been open and able to make use of them. It’s been a very challenging time for our local fleet – as if the fishing industry is not difficult enough at the best of times!
We have taken the opportunity of things being a bit quieter to take down the ‘white tent’ at the back of the Co-op, which was damaged and becoming unsafe. It’s amazing how much space this has created, and I have included a couple of photographs courtesy of George Henderson. You will also see a bit more activity around the Harbour over the next few weeks as we implement all the safety measures arising from our risk assessments for coronavirus. In general, this will mean increased signage around the Harbour, and hand sanitiser in strategic positions, especially around both the passenger access and marina pontoons. We know that hard surfaces are a risk when it comes to Coronavirus, and that it’s not practical to sanitise handrails etc. after every use, so we will be putting up signage encouraging people to continue to keep their distance, to wash or sanitise their hands after touching surfaces and to be respectful of other users around the Harbour.
We’re also hopeful to have contractors back on-site from 9th July to complete some of the works that were in progress when lockdown began. The first priority is to complete works on the pontoon, which we hope will be done in time to allow us to re-open to visiting yachts on Saturday 18th July, slightly later than the date that most tourism businesses locally will be re-opening. If physical distancing remains at 2m, we will only be able to use one side of each finger of the pontoon, which will limit our capacity, so we will be asking visitors to book ahead. We will also need to limit the number of people using the shore facilities at any one time, so will be asking visiting yachts to book a time if they would like to use the showers or laundry facilities. Again, we will keep posting updates on the Facebook page and the website – https://mallaig-yachting-marina.com/news/. We will also try to provide links to guidance from the surrounding communities, as we are very aware that this might vary between communities, and we want any visiting vessels to be well prepared for this.
We had our first ‘virtual’ Board meeting this month, which was a slightly strange experience when you are used to having everyone around the table in the Harbour Office. However, it was good to be able to update Board Members on what had been happening, and Charlie’s years of experience in Chairing meetings meant that everyone got the opportunity to contribute. I’m not sure we will make it a regular occurrence – although it’s good to know we can do it if we need to again!
Jacqueline McDonell, CEO