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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 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, select Join a meeting and use the meeting code 958 4810 9482.  If you wish to be emailed these event details, please

If 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.

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

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.


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

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.


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 , 10 days prior to the event. If you wish to be emailed event details, please contact: 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 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 , 10 days prior to the event. If you wish to be emailed event details, please contact: 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 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

Mallaig Marina Update: 9th July 2020

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We are pleased to say that we are able to open the Marina earlier than expected. From today (9th July) until 15th July, we will welcome yachts for short stays and, if they are self-contained, for overnight berths. From 15th July, the Marina and Shore Facilities will be open. In all cases please book ahead, as our capacity will be limited. The easiest way to do this is to telephone 07824 331031 or 01687 462406.

We will be operating an appointment system for use of the showers and laundry (which will not be open until 15th July) to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Crews who are aboard a yacht will be able to book to use the shower and toilet facilities as a group and will have exclusive access to the showers or laundry for this period. The building will be open from 8am until 8pm, but we anticipate that it will be closed from 12-1pm for a deep clean, and again from 4pm until 5pm.

Week commencing 20th July, we will have some work being undertaken, which will involve divers in and around the Marina Pontoons for some of the time. We will therefore require vessels to radio ahead before entering or leaving the pontoon so that the dive operations can be conducted safely.

News from Mallaig Harbour: July 2020

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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.

White tent half way down
White tent gone

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 – 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

News from Mallaig Harbour: June 2020

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Not much has changed from last month, although this last week (up to 29th May), there has been a bit more activity. Our staffing remains the same, as there is not enough work for all staff to be on-site, and Audrey, Pimmy and I are still working from home as much as possible. We are trying to keep the office staffed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am until 1pm.

The fishing fleet has been trying to get back to sea. Again, May has been an amazing month of weather which they have missed out on. Some of the boats have a limited market for their catch, and the Caralisa in particular has been enterprising and selling the majority of their catch locally. Lots of people have been enjoying fresh prawns and monkfish! We’ve turned the ice machine back on, and on one day sold the entire 12 tonnes it holds, which is a positive sign!

The CalMac essential lifeline timetable, which means no sailings to Skye, no calls from the Lord of the Isles, and sailings to the Small Isles only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is operational at least until the 14th June. We did have a visit from the Lord of The Isles on 18th May, and we are expecting her back for a couple of days the first week in June. There is a new skipper aboard who is taking the opportunity to familiarise himself with the Harbour entrance. Although there are no passengers on board, it was nice to see her – a wee reminder of how things should be at this time of year!

Western Isles Cruises are also operating a lifeline timetable, with one sailing to Inverie on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Their music videos are a highlight to the week – have a look on their Facebook page if you haven’t seen them! There’s an amazing amount of freight which has to be taken over – and even we are seeing lots of deliveries at the Harbour Office – we’re grateful to the Posties and Delivery Drivers who are keeping everything moving!

As of 29th May, Scotland has entered Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap for recovery. As a result of this, we have changed the guidance associated with the Marina, and are allowing LOCAL TRAFFIC to use the pontoon in line with Government advice. The Shore facilities remain CLOSED, and we are not yet ready to welcome visiting vessels back to the pontoons. We have aligned our guidance very much to the RYA guidance, and published full information on the Marina website, The key points are:

  • At the moment access is for LOCAL boat owners only – we are not ready to welcome visiting yachts or other vessels. Guidance is that local means within about 5 miles.
  • Government guidance is NOT to stay away from home overnight – or to visit other communities. You may anchor for a break, for example lunch, but must not go ashore as this will break the 5 mile rule and could put communities at risk.
  • Be aware that handrails and water taps etc. will not be sanitised after every use so take precautions by washing your hands / using sanitiser.
  • The Shore Facilities are not open.
  • Allow for Social distancing on any of the pontoon walkways.
  • Observe Government guidance about meeting up with other households

We’re also asking people, in line with the RYA, to be Considerate and Conservative: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and local communities. Do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services, and please ensure that you are able to cope with the conditions before leaving the Harbour. We’re also very aware that the Small Isles and Knoydart are not ready to welcome visitors yet, so we are reminding people of that.

By the time you read this, my first anniversary of working for the Harbour Authority will have passed. It’s been a quick year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with everything that goes on around the Harbour – I am lucky to have a great team around me, both in terms of the staff and the Board. There have been several new challenges for me throughout the year – not least those associated with Coronavirus – but I am looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

Also by the time you read this, we should have been celebrating the third annual Marina Day – which would have been Saturday 6th June, and last year marked the end of my first week at work! Unfortunately there will be no barbecue or bucking bronco this year, but hopefully it will be back next year.

The 8th June is World Oceans Day, ( and this year’s theme is ‘Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean’. Whilst there are no ‘physical’ events this year, there are a lot of resources online, including resources for children – so it’s worth taking a look.

Finally, our boats have continued to rise to the challenge of supporting the #clapforcarers each Thursday evening. We’ve managed to video some of these, and if you haven’t managed to experience them in person, you can see them on our facebook page (you don’t have to have a Facebook account to see them!) Once again, we are grateful to everyone working hard around the Harbour, and indeed throughout the wider community, to keep things moving.

Jacqueline McDonell

News from Mallaig Harbour: May 2020

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We’re all adjusting a bit to the new ‘normal’ around the Harbour, and although it feels very strange to not have the usual ‘hustle and bustle’ that would have been associated with Easter, we are fortunate in lots of ways that there is still some activity around the Harbour.

As I mentioned last month, the pier staff are not on-site all the time, and Audrey, Pimmy and I are working from home as much as possible. We are trying to keep the office staffed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am until 1pm.

Our fishing fleet are mostly tied up, as the market hasn’t really picked up again yet. There has been lots of lobbying for financial support for fishermen, and this is starting to filter through now. It’s been unfortunate in many ways that April was such a good month of weather this year, and it must be really frustrating for those who make their living from fishing to have calm weather and not be able to take advantage of it.

CalMac are still operating their essential lifeline timetable, which means no sailings to Skye, no calls from the Lord of the Isles, and sailings to the Small Isles only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This timetable is extended to 14th May at the moment, but CalMac are offering refunds to anyone who had booked sailings with them up until 15th July, so it is likely that it will be extended further.

Western Isles Cruises are also operating a lifeline timetable, with one sailing to Inverie on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Both CalMac and Western Isles Cruises have made great use of their Social Media – possibly in a slightly different way to normal – over the last month, keeping interested parties engaged and offering a wee ‘virtual glimpse’ of how things are operating. The Road to The Isles Marketing Group have also been very active on social media, providing ‘virtual postcards’ from the area, for those who can’t be with us at the moment. West Coast Waters are still running their sunset competition, with some great prizes. There have been some cracking sunsets this month – so get your entries in! They are also asking people to ‘immerse their senses’ in the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and aromas of Scotland’s West Coast Waters, focussing on a different sense each week and starting with sight. 

We are lucky to have a range of great businesses operating from the Harbour, not just in fishing and marine tourism, who are all trying to make the best of the situation. This includes those businesses servicing the Aquaculture industry, and Scottish Sea Farms and MOWI who are trying to maintain operations as far as possible, with appropriate modifications.

The Marina remains closed to all visiting yachts. Part of the responsibility of the Harbour is to provide a safe berth if required, and, after discussion, we allowed a yacht from outwith the Harbour to come alongside the pontoon to take aboard a new battery on 15th April. We didn’t do this lightly, and we were aware that the yacht had been anchored off Isleornsay for three weeks before coming into Mallaig so any risk of infection would have been minimal. Unfortunately, the battery did not arrive when promised, which resulted in the yacht having to stay an extra night. We know that this caused some consternation locally, but please be reassured that we had thought carefully about the implications before allowing the boat access.

We haven’t gone as far as other Marinas in completely closing the gates and not allowing people access to their vessels, as we recognise that no-one locally using the pontoon has to travel a distance to do so, and that it is important for people to be able to access their boats to do essential maintenance and safety checks. We are aware that the RYA is lobbying for access to Marinas and is developing a ‘Return to Boating’ strategy, so Mallaig Harbour Authority will continue to monitor the situation and react to guidance as it is updated. In the meantime, we are relying on our users to act responsibly and follow existing guidance.

We had some big tides at the start of the month, and on the 9th April, low tide was 0.0 – right back to chart datum. It’s not often you will see the pontoon grounded!

CMAL have now published the Mallaig / Armdale STAG on their website, so if you have some time to spare, you can download the whole report from I would warn that it is 253 pages long! If you just want to look at the drawings for Mallaig, they start on Page 143, (which is actually page 152 of the download). On the website you will also see a request for those who would like to be considered as stakeholders for the project as it progresses in Mallaig to email to register as a stakeholder. This is important as, because CMAL led on the process to this stage, Mallaig Harbour Authority does not have contact details for those who were involved to date, and we are aware that there may be wider interest in how the project progresses.

Finally, we had a request from the British Ports Association for boats to get involved with #clapforcarers on a Thursday evening. I shared the request on our Facebook page, and Audrey contacted some of the regular users of the Harbour, and we have been consistently amazed at the response each Thursday. It really is quite humbling to hear, and on one week, it was such a still night and there was such a great response that we had a message from Skye from someone in Sleat who was delighted to hear the boats sounding their horns. There are so many people who are responsible for keeping the country going as well as possible through all this, not least those working in and around the Harbour to keep the Small Isles and Knoydart in supplies and to ensure that the food chain keeps moving, some of them on the boats that are making time in their routine to join the tooting – and we are grateful to all of them!

Jacqueline McDonell, CEO

News from Mallaig Harbour: April 2020

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Who would have thought that when it came to writing this month’s news for WestWord that the world would have turned so upside down in a month!

March started for the Harbour Authority with a Board Meeting on Friday 6th, with an Agenda full of all the things that were going on, both in terms of maintenance and development. Some of you will have noted the works going on at the Loch Nevis berth. The metal facings have all been taken off and re-galvanised before being replaced. Unfortunately, the work is not quite finished, as local accommodation providers were forced to close, and the workmen had to leave before the work was completed. They have left the berth safe to lie alongside so that it doesn’t matter when they get back, but if any of you are wondering why the crane seems to have been down there for weeks, there is your answer!

I mentioned last month the additional sailings to Skye, and these were relatively busy for the first two weeks, until the travel restrictions were put in place. Sailings to Skye are now all cancelled until 14th April at the earliest, the Loch Nevis is on an amended timetable for essential travel only, and the Lord of The Isles is sailing to Oban, so the ferry pier is much quieter than normal, as is the whole harbour. You might also be wondering why the Loch Nevis is going back to its berth each night when there is no other ferry traffic, and the answer to that is in case the linkspan is needed to transport the ambulance to one of our remoter communities to deal with a case of Coronavirus.

The weather finally improved at the beginning of the month, and the boats managed a few days at sea. Unfortunately, with Italy, France and Spain in the grip of Coronavirus, there is no export market for their catch, and the cold stores in this country are full, so they are now all tied up. This has meant that we have emptied the ice plant, and switched it off for the time being. Now would be an ideal time for the planned maintenance that it is required, but the engineer can’t get here, so this will have to wait. All the parts have finally arrived, so we are hopeful the work will be done quickly when restrictions are lifted.

When the restrictions were initially implemented, we were asked how it would impact the Harbour. At that stage, things were running pretty much as normal – salmon still being harvested and fed, ferries still in operation, the Marina gearing up for the season ahead, and the fishing boats finally at sea for the first time this year. However, in a fortnight, much of this activity is now reduced, and although the Harbour is still open for essential services, we are running on a skeleton staff. Pimmy, Audrey and I are working from home wherever possible, and those pier staff who are still working are only onsite when required to be, not their normal 8am-5pm. We are trying to share as much relevant information as possible on our Facebook Page, and if you email us, we’ll respond as soon as we can.

Following the guidance from the Government, the Marina is closed to all but essential traffic. In line with the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, and the Small Isles and Knoydart, we are asking people not to travel to the area. We’ve added a statement to the website,, which includes links to guidance from Sail Scotland and the RYA, and our local communities only accessible by sea. For local residents, with a vessel moored on the pontoon year- round, then we recognise that it’s less straightforward. The guidance recognises that it’s important for people’s mental and physical well-being that they should be able to go out and exercise if they possibly can, the Government has made it clear that this exercise should only be taken locally to home and within the guidelines for social distancing.  

Please take this into consideration before deciding whether to use your boat, and please be mindful that the Small Isles and Knoydart are asking non-residents NOT TO VISIT at this time.

I’m not going to bother with my monthly plug for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, as events have overtaken us. In partnership with the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, we had submitted a funding application for a programme of events leading up to a Maritime Day in June, but this involved the local schools and other community groups, so is not really feasible in the current climate. The funding was due to be announced by the end of March, so we are hopeful that the whole process can be postponed rather than cancelled altogether.

On a more positive note, the Strategic Transport Appraisal (STAG) for Mallaig and Armadale is now complete, and we had a positive meeting with Transport Scotland about the way forward for Mallaig Harbour. CMAL, as the pier owner at Armadale, will take forward the infrastructure works for Armadale, and Mallaig Harbour Authority will have to take forward any works for Mallaig. There are a few differences between the preferred option in the STAG, and the preferred option from MHA’s Masterplan, and we were keen to impress on Transport Scotland the need for commercial opportunities to be included in any development, a message that seemed to be understood. I’ve included artist’s impressions of the two schemes so that you can compare them.

I hope this month’s news is not too depressing! We realise that we are more fortunate in the Harbour Authority than many of the local businesses who rely entirely on Tourism, and we are definitely all lucky to live in such resilient communities, and in communities where everyone takes care to look out for one another. We’ve been receiving a range of information and updates about support for business through the Coronavirus crisis, whether financial or in terms of policies etc. so if anyone locally would like us to share any of these with them, then please just get in touch.

Jacqueline McDonell , CEO