Lack of ferries leaves Kerrera high and dry
DAVID MCPHEE firstname.lastname@example.org A MEMBER of Kerrera’s sailing community has vented his frustration over the lack of ferries and facilities provided by Oban Marina.
The last ferry to the island leaves Oban at 5pm and the Waypoint Bar and Grill, which was run by the marina, is no longer in operation.
These problems are proving to be an inconvenience for yacht owners who have to sail to and from Oban in order to eat out.
Oban Marina & Yacht Services Ltd was listed for sale in February and is currently on the market for £975,000.
Paul Wooddisse, who spends 13 weeks each year in the area, said: ‘There are ferries, but they only seem to be running every two hours, so it’s not good at all.
‘Tomorrow, for example, I have people arriving after 5pm, so I have to take my boat over and pick them up.
‘I have been at the marina since 2001, when it was atrocious. In 2004, new owners took over and brought it up to a good standard but it was taken over again.
‘When they [Oban Marina & Yacht Services Ltd] took over, I was looking forward to it, but they stagnated and it has gone downhill.’
Mr Wooddisse, who is from the Midlands, added: ‘ They closed the Waypoint Grill, which was open to people who stayed at the marina and had a lot of customers from Oban. It was always vibrant, but it closed, so we’re really restricted and have to go to Oban for meals.
‘The staff who are there [at the marina] are absolutely fantastic and look after us all, but it’s the lack of ferries that is the problem.
‘It [the marina] needs new owners with a great interest in marinas. It also needs some money, not a large amount, about £200,000, to spend on improving the infrastructure and putting on a new ferry service.’
Peter Weir, managing director of Oban Marina & Yacht Services Ltd, responded: ‘The yacht owners can request a ferry at any time, whereas before the ferries used to run on an hourly basis.
‘But this was when the Waypoint Grill was open and there’s no point in running a ferry at 10pm if no- one will use it.
‘One of the problems we have had is looking for trained ferry drivers. We have two ferry drivers running from dawn to dusk, seven days a week, which is the best we can do. We would take one [a trained driver] on tomorrow if we could get one.
‘ We are struggling – we will admit that. We apologise to customers, but at the moment that’s all we can run.’
Councillor for Oban South and the Isles, Roddy McCuish, said: ‘I am extremely hopeful that the marina will be bought as soon as possible. It will be complementary to all the work Oban is doing to the north pier.’
Argyll and Bute Council is planning to upgrade the north pier to incorporate a visitor centre.
Mr McCuish added: ‘ The more facilities we have for marine tourism in Oban, the more the area will benefit.
‘I’m led to believe that there are several parties interested in the marina. We, as an area committee, will help as much as possible to facilitate a quick sale if we can.’