West Highland Anchorages and Moorings Association
Oban Bay Public Meeting
Oban Harbour Management Group has arranged a public meeting to discuss plans for Oban Bay - amending statutory harbour authority arrangements and improving navigational safety.
The meeting will be at Corran Halls, Oban Esplanade, 6.00pm Wednesday 18th July.
Oban Bay proposed Harbour Authority consultation
Oban Harbour Management Group (OHMG), composed of Argyll and Bute Council (ABC), the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB), CMAL and CalMac, have been meeting to address navigational issues in the Bay; it is felt that there is a need for improved safety particularly given the sharp increase in ferry movements following the introduction of RET.
A series of independent consultants have been commissioned by OHMG to advise on the management of the wider harbour. The first report by Fischer Associates recommended harbour control by a Trust Port with representation of all users, which could be run for the benefit of the wider community as in Tobermory. This found favour with many Stakeholders but this recommendation has not been accepted by the Management Group. CMAL now propose to seek a Harbour Revision Order which would make them the controlling authority for the majority of the Harbour from the southern limit of the Sound of Kerrera to the northern entrance to Oban Bay at Dunollie.
The CMAL proposal would delegate the running of the Harbour to CalMac Ports and Harbours who currently run both the Railway and Linkspan piers. The Harbour Board would consist of just the CMAL Board, with no local representation at all. This situation would be quite unacceptable to the WHAM Committee as well as to RYAS, RHYC and a wide variety of users. The Oban community has not been consulted hitherto.
The OBMG have now issued a Consultation seeking the views of all interested in the outcome. Note that the consultation closes on 31st July 2018.
WHAM Committee is opposed to this move on the simple grounds that the controlling authority cannot, indeed must not, also be the judge.
Seasonal Buoyage in Oban Bay, North Channel
This Notice announces Seasonal Port & Stbd lateral buoys in the North Channel, Oban Bay. They are also shown on the Code of Practice for Oban Bay, in which the chartlet illustrates their locations.
Both these documents show them as unlit but they are in fact lit.
They mark the limits of the Small Boat Channels near the narrowest part.
WHAM’s response on the future of the Crown Estate in Scotland
The committee of WHAM met on 3 March to consider their response to the draft Crown Estate Bill. Discussion was lengthy but overall we felt it indicated 'business as usual' and the retention, as far as we can see, of the Crown Estate essentially as we currently know it. The possibility of devolution of certain matters to Local Authorities and /or communities exists but, as the draft Pilot Bill indicates, the hurdles to be surmounted before a power is devolved are substantial.
The WHAM committee response to the draft Bill is here.
In these circumstances we do not presently believe that a special GM of WHAM would greatly assist. If you feel otherwise please contact the Secretary.
Portree harbour visitor moorings
Portree Moorings Association (PMA) carried out comprehensive replacement and realignment works on their 13 visitor moorings in 2016, and have been well satisfied with the effectiveness of these improvements over the past two seasons.
The inner visitors’ trot now provides 5 moorings (7.5 tonne max.), at 25 metre centres, all now utilising chain risers. These moorings were realigned at wider centres to reduce the potential for boats to clash at low tides. There are 7 yellow buoys in total on this trot, but note that the 2 innermost moorings are private and in shallow water. They will be clearly marked as Private before the start of the season. Only the outermost 5 are checked and maintained by PMA, and are available to visitors.
The 8 moorings off the north shore of Portree Bay, also with yellow buoys, have all been replaced, are generously spaced at 35 to 40 metres (10 tonne max.), and are suitable for mooring lengthier craft.
All the above information is available on the PMA website.
Previously there was a heavy duty mooring suitable for large motor cruisers, fishing vessels etc. but, as a result of a storm in early 2017, this is no longer available.
The moorings have not yet been inspected in advance of the 2018 season.
The Future of the Crown Estate in Scotland
The Scottish Government has published the draft Bill on the Crown Estate in Scotland. The details can be studied here. The Crown Estate regulates most of the marine moorings around the Scottish coast and is responsible for about half of the Scottish foreshore as well as the seabed.
There is to be a consultation period of several months during which representations can be made to your MSPs about the future regulation of Scottish moorings.
Loch Creran Anchoring Restrictions - a reminder
Even though the sign at the entrance to Loch Creran has been removed, anchoring is still restricted to four areas: Glaceriska, Creagan, Head of the Loch and South Shian.
More information is available at Loch Creran Anchorages
Oban Harbour new Code of Practice
The Oban Bay Management Group has revised the Code of Practice for users of Oban Bay. From 31 March 2017, amongst other guidance, small yachts (less than 20m LOA) in the North Channel are asked to use their auxiliary engines and to remain outside of the large vessel channel in accordance with IRPCS Rule 9 - Narrow Channels. A new guide called Be Safe - Be Seen has also been developed. Everyone is asked to use the Guide and Code to help the area remain safe and enjoyable for all. For details visit Oban Harbour Navigation.
Doirlinn Channel, Tobermory
The two tubular steel perches marking the Doirlinn Channel into Tobermory have been replaced.
Reports of Sea Squirt, a nasty invasive, non native, species, in Loch Creran have now been confirmed.
SNH and others, especially fish farmers, are very concerned and urge mariners in Loch Creran to keep a keen look out for this slimy invader. This note from Marine Scotland will give a flavour of the threat and WHAM urges mariners to report any suspicious organism to SNH as soon as possible.
Sound of Ulva
A pontoon has been installed on the Mull shore of the Sound of Ulva-thanks to the Coastal Communities Fund. It has water and fuel.Note it is not on the Ulva side where the excellent Boathouse Cafe is. If you want to avail yourself of the cafe you will still need your dinghy. Note the cafe closes at 5pm.
Eight visitor moorings have now been installed at Lochaline, in addition to the pontoons. These VM's do not impede access to the anchorages at the head of the loch.
Aids to Navigation
The NLB plan to mark Cleit Rock with a south cardinal mark has been postponed to 2017.
As a result of the traffic survey of Oban Bay the Ferry Rocks have been remarked 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.
This very big loch continues to attract applications for aquaculture on a grand scale. Western Isles Council have taken cognisance of our comments last year and afforded us both a very courteous and constructive reply and an open invitation to visit and have local discussions. We hope to be able to do that in 2017.
The facilities at Gigha are now virtually complete. The pontoon has 2.7m LWS at the end so it is useable for most vessels. There is fresh water at the end of the walkway. Showers at the boathouse and at the hotel have been refurbished. Gas and ‘white’ diesel are available at the shop and 'white' diesel plus improved grocery stock.
You can pay for the moorings by phone, at the Boathouse or at the hotel. If you pay at the hotel then there is a reduction of 10% for a meal taken there.
Dunstaffnage Marina has developed its pontoons and the buoyage and channels in the bay have altered. This chartlet and description show the details.
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.
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.
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.