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News from Mallaig Harbour: October 2023

By November 13, 2023February 20th, 2024News

Autumn is definitely in the air, and although we missed out on the worst of the weather associated with storm Agnes, the unsettled weather has meant that the boats have been tied up for most of the last week, and the harbour has been busy with fish farm vessels seeking shelter too. There have been a couple of unusual weather incidents this month. On Tuesday 12th into Wednesday 13th September, the Northern Lights put on quite a show above the village, so much so that our CCTV in the Marina was even able to capture them through the glare of the streetlights. On Thursday 28th, I looked up from my desk to see the most unusual sun. I know you shouldn’t look at the sun directly, but it took me a minute to decide whether it was actually the sun or the moon!  Apparently, it was due to the smoke from wildfires in America.

The Marina has quietened down considerably, although there are still occasional yachts calling in on their way South. We have had a busy season, and for the first two weeks in September 55 vessels used the pontoon, compared to 39 in 2022. On Wednesday 27th September, the students from the Marine Training Centre were taking advantage of the calm before the storm to get a bit of practical experience in using the RIB when we got a call at the Harbour office from a yacht making for the Marina who had engine trouble. The students got to experience a real life scenario when their tutor kindly agreed to take them out and escort the yacht into the harbour, eventually towing it as there wasn’t enough wind for it to make steady progress.

We have had a fair bit of interest in the Deputy Harbour Master post. The closing date is not until 27th October, to allow for the October holidays, so there is still a bit of time for anyone with an interest to submit an application. All the information on the post, including how to apply, is on our website or in an advert in WestWord.

We had an oil spill response exercise on 20th September.  Briggs Marine, who provide support services to us in the event of an oil spill, were on site to go through a scenario with us. The exercise tested all aspects of our response, from the co-ordination to the practical application of the training the staff have in how to contain and clean up an oil spill. The Loch Bhrusda was used as the ‘casualty’, with booms floated around her in the berth in the Outer Harbour, and a demonstration of an oil skimmer. As well as our own staff, we had representatives from the MCA, and staff from Denholms, CalMac and Scottish Seafarms who attended to provide support and learn about what to do in a real incident. We’re always grateful when the other businesses who use the Harbour work with us to supplement our small team of staff! 

The Loch Nevis has been away for her annual refit, and is due to return on the 30th September, while the Loch Fyne attempted to leave us for the season on 29th September but had to turn back due to the stormy weather. The intention was that from Saturday 30th September until 19th October, the Loch Bhrusda would be operating alongside the Coruisk to Skye. However, issues elsewhere in the network now mean that the Coruisk will be the only vessel on the Skye run, until she leaves on 19th October. This means that from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd October, there will be no vehicle service to Skye – a passenger service will be operated by the Larven. The Winter timetable then starts on Monday 23rd October. It seems incredible that this is less than a month away!

Finally, huge congratulations to Mallaig FC, who have already won the West Highland Amateur Football’s William Wilson League; and the Ross Cup. They were on for the treble if they had been able to beat North West Skye on 30th September in Portree – unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, despite us all having our fingers crossed for them at the Harbour! They’ve had a great season once again, and we’re proud that our sponsorship plays a small part in their success.

Jacqueline McDonell

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