The number of boat nights at Port Ellen pontoons has risen to over 1,000 a year, which means an additional 4-5,000 people visiting the island. The success of the pontoons is down to the vision and persistence of the volunteers of the Port Ellen Harbour Association - who are keen to promote an understanding of the opportunities presenting themselves through the proposed development of the ferry terminal in the village. The Association is proposing to build a breakwater in Port Ellen Bay which would not only transform the facilities available to yachts, it would also provide additional protection for the fishing fleet and dramatically reduce the incidence of flooding which can bring misery to local householders.
Yachts often anchor in Port Ellen Bay off Carraig Fhada because
the pontoons are all full, but many simply sail past without stopping
The economic potential of Scotlandâ€™s sailing and leisure boating facilities has also been the subject of a debate at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood because there is a particular drive for development here on the west coast where our sailing grounds are probably the best in Britain being particularly well endowed with the small harbours and anchorages that yachtsmen need. Where appropriate facilities have been developed to cater for them the impact on the local economy has been dramatic. Crinan, Craobh Haven, Ardfern and Dunstaffnage are some of the locations that enjoy established marinas, with Tobermory on Mull, Tarbert Loch Fyne and Portavadie on Cowal all having recently completed major investment programmes. Continue reading....In the Holyrood debate, Highlands Conservative MSP, Jamie McGrigor, an Argyll man with an interest in sailing, spoke in support of SNP MSP Stuart McMillanâ€™s motion saying: â€˜Sailing and boating is of real economic importance across my region of the Highlands and Islands and sustains many jobs in the region, including in some of the most remote and rural parts. More priority should be given to adapting existing redundant coastal facilities for leisure useâ€™. He went on to say: â€˜The joy of the west coast is the shelter and protection which the sea lochs and islands provideâ€™, insisting that: â€˜â€¦it is imperative that visiting boats can pick up fuel, stores and water at as many points as possible. We should possibly learn from the French region of Languedoc which has these facilities for yachtsmen every 30 miles. Egypt also has learned the importance of marine tourismâ€™.
Oban Marina, on the Isle of Kerrera, currently has 93 pontoon berths with a further 33 moorings. Planning permission has now been granted to add a further 60 pontoon berths. Ballycastle Marina, just across the north Channel from Port Ellen has 74 berths with additional pontoon space for visiting yachts. Significant expansion is also now going ahead in Campbeltown. The redevelopment of Port Ellen harbour is a once in-a -lifetime opportunity. For more information on the Scottish Boating Association, email Mike Balmforth of the British Marine Federation at: email@example.com
This story was published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.