There is finally light at the end of the tunnel now that the reconstruction works at Port Askaig are nearing their completion. Initially three years were planned for the refurbishment of the road and parking place, the harbour, the new pier and new link-span to accommodate potentially larger ferries than the present ones. In the end the project will have lasted almost eight years when it will be ready and caused a huge budget overrun. Last year the north pier and new link-span for the Calmac ferry became operational and the crew started working on the north harbour, the old (south) harbour and Jura ferry berth. The Jura ferry in the meanwhile used the new link-span during this period causing delays for the regular Calmac ferries and preventing them from staying over night at Port Askaig.
From this weekend onwards the new Jura ferry berth is going to be used which will bring the situation back to what it was in the days before this massive operation started. The Calmac Ferry will now overnight at Port Askaig again and do early sailings from Port Askaig, something that will benefit the folks from Jura as well. The inner harbour is almost finished with the remaining rock etc being taken away - some lighting/ladders/signage has still to be done but it will be in use in the next couple of weeks. The renovations of the pier buildings and the building of the new ticket office commences in April which will be done by M&K McLeod of Lochgilphead, and these works will take another year before the whole project is finally completed.
Marion Spears, owner of the Port Askaig Hotel, told me that it will be great for them to have water and small boats alongside the garden again instead of cranes and rubble. Marion: "As we are not in a village the ferry traffic is crucial to our business and when the 6 weeks extended to 6 months without the boat it was very difficult for us to keep our local staff on etc. Most of the guys doing the work have been great and although we are pleased to see this phase come to an end we will miss some of the characters we have come to know over the last 2 yrs. Our own plans to refurbish will go ahead this Autumn all being well." An information leaflet about the upgrade of Port Askaig was handed out and Marion was kind enough to send it to me: Read more.....Improved Harbour Facilities at Port Askaig: Leisure and Fishing Vessels passing the East side of Islay (and particularly through the Sound of Islay) may be interested to know that the Marine Phase of Argyll and Bute Councilâ€™s Re- Development of the Ferry Terminal Facilities will be completed for Spring 2008. Of particular interest to Skippers with vessels ranging in size from 6M to 16M (approx) will be the creation and enhancement of two separate small harbours â€“ both North and South of the Mainland and Jura Ferry berths.
Picture from May last year showing the new link span and Jura ferry
The new Northern Harbour although intended mainly for fish landings and fishing vessel berthing â€“ may offer limited berthing potential to passing vessels except in strong N-NE winds, when it would be more advisable to use the new inner harbour located to the South of the Jura Ferry - and no longer blocked by the berthed ferry! Both new Harbours have solid faced quayside to which the Council has provided lights and ladders.
Port Askaig has a maximum spring tide range of approx 2.2 metres and the new inner harbour has a designed depth of at least 2 metres at M.L.W.S. Port Askaig is generally sheltered from all westerly winds and by using the most suitable berthing face it should be possible to find a sheltered spot. Services in the village include a general store/post office with limited fuel and water facilities. In addition the quay side hotel has bar, restaurant and accommodation facilities and is open all year. For more information visit www.portaskaig.co.uk. The village of Port Askaig is situated within a 3 mile radius of Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain Malt Whisky Distilleries and also the famous historic 'Lord of the Isles' seat at Finlaggan.
The new North Harbour which has been designed mainly as a fish landing facility
but does provide mooring in certain conditions