The following information has been forwarded by a member:
Some news that might be relevant to West Coast Cruisers, just in case you have not heard.
The Marine Resource Centre at Barcaldine has been bought by a fish farm enterprise and they do not intend to offer boat storage in the future, honouring contracts only until September. Kerrera Marina, is up for sale and is returning deposits and the rumour is that this is also going to be bought by a fish farm co. Loss of the facilities, in particular the MRC means a massive reduction in winter storage space so get your booking in early. Bad news for yachting in Oban as well.
Portree harbour visitor moorings
Concern has been expressed by some visitors about the visitor moorings in the harbour. Particular queries were raised regarding the spacing between moorings and whether they had been dive checked in recent times. These moorings are the property of Portree Moorings Association who are very conscious of the increasing size of visitors’ craft. So steps are in hand to increase the spacing between some of the moorings and to subject them all to diver inspection and improvement where necessary. This will take a little time to effect but it is anticipated that the work will be complete by the time summer visitors arrive. The group of eight moorings adjacent to the north shore of Portree Bay offer adequate swinging room for larger vessels, although they are further from the pier and pontoon.
Six new visitor moorings have been laid in Dunvegan Bay where the old HIDB (Hippo) buoys used to be. These are attached to a brand new ground chain. Access to the shore is still by the jetty close to the hotel though negotiations are taking place about pontoon access.
The bottom half of the notice in the approach to Loch Creran specifying where it is permissible to anchor in the loch has fallen off. SNH are aware of this and steps are in hand to effect repairs. (The notice is technically the responsibility of Argyll & Bute Council.) The anchoring areas are still the four shown in the Clyde Cruising Club directions, and not just the two apparently listed currently on the damaged notice.
Sound of Ulva
There is a plan to install a pontoon on the Mull shore of the Sound of Ulva-thanks to the Coastal Communities Fund. It will have 6-8 berths, water and possibly fuel. The pontoon should be in place by June. Note it is not on the Ulva side where the excellent Boathouse Cafe is. If you want to avail yourself of it you will still need your dinghy. Note the cafe closes at 5pm.
The mooring reported as additional is in fact the existing licensed mooring with a new buoy. Should another mooring appear it will indeed be unlicensed!
The pontoons are now open but don't have any information on depths at this time.
The improvements at Gigha should be complete by the beginning of May including pontoons with an untested depth of 2m at the end of the walkway. This will complete the refurbishment of Ardminish and provide much better access to the shore for dinghies and the pier cafe in addition to more moorings.
East Loch Tarbert, Harris
The Coastal Communities Fund is reported to have come up with over £1m to install pontoons at Tarbert. No doubt these will greatly ease access to this useful ferry port and restocking point.
The pontoons at Lochaline are to be extended and some visitor moorings will be laid close by. These VM's will not impede access to the anchorages at the head of the loch.
Aids to Navigation
NLB have agreed to maintain the perch on Cleit and we can expect a tall south cardinal mark to be erected on the rock by mid 2016.
As a result of the traffic survey of Oban Bay the Ferry Rocks have been re-marked to remove any ambiguity about the channels. An additional buoy has been provided at Sg an Fheuran to the south of Ferry Rocks.
In the Hebrides, Red Rocks off Leverburgh are now marked by a sectored light in the existing (modified) tower. Grocis Sg in the Sound of Harris has been re-marked. Both Sg Goblach and Sg Thraid in the Inner Hebrides now have lit beacons.
Branra Rock beacon is now lit while the Small Isles beacon at Craighouse has been refurbished and lit.
There was a rumour that serpulid reefs had been discovered in the loch and that anchoring would be banned by SNH throughout the loch. There may well be serpulids in the loch but they are not in the anchorage area, so if you visit this tricky anchorage, it is important to use only the anchorage area described in the Sailing Directions.
A second moored vessel has appeared here, but unlicensed. There is also a question whether the existing licensed mooring is in the right place. Crown Estate and WHAM are investigating.
It is believed that the turbine proposal for Kylerhea has been shelved though no official announcement has been made. There are rumours that an alternative proposal is being prepared for the area. The turbine licensed for the Sound of Islay has no start date as yet though manufacture of the device (in Austria!) is well advanced. It was scheduled originally for 2014.
A license for a tidal turbine west and north of the Mull of Kintyre has been issued.
Floating Lines especially in the Western Isles
Floating lines are universally agreed to be a menace, a genuine hazard which can, and should, be made non existent. On the west side of the Hebrides it is a particularly difficult problem and reports from the Monachs suggest it is very, very difficult to avoid them there. In poor weather and /or heavy swell, even with a keen lookout, avoiding them becomes extraordinarily difficult. Added to that is the fact that there are black holes in VHF coverage in this area so that, if entanglement occurs, help may not be accessible. WHAM has raised this issue with the Harbourmaster, Western Isles and the Chief Officer, Stornoway Coastguard. Both were very constructive in their responses. The HM has raised the problem with the Secretary of the Western Isles Fishermens Association who, in turn, has circulated all his members reminding them of their obligations. SCG have put the issue on the agenda of the next Safety Committee. It is widely believed that the major offenders are not locals but incomers and the practices on the inside of the Hebrides and in the Minch, while not perfect, are certainly much better. How the incomers are to be dealt with or educated is not clear.