Lack of fer­ries leaves Ker­rera high and dry

The Oban Times - - News -

DAVID MCPHEE dm­cphee@oban­ 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.’

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