New Oban berths will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one

The Oban Times - - Letters -

Sir, In the 1980s I looked af­ter the 24-berth, very weather-de­pen­dent, pon­toons at the South Pier and I was amazed at the amount of busi­ness this cre­ated.

I think this was not gen­er­ally recog­nised as the sailor ashore – apart from the he­roes who go shop­ping wear­ing their life­jack­ets – ap­pears as just an­other tourist.

We al­ways had a large in­flux of yachts from Ire­land and, fre­quently, could not ac­com­mo­date all those want­ing berths. Bear in mind that this was 30 years ago.

As a keen sailor, I am very much aware that yachts sail from, say Cri­nan, di­rectly to Tober­mory or, more re­cently, to Loch Aline, which now boasts a ma­rina. For some 30 years Oban has been a back­wa­ter, largely by­passed due to lack of berthing fa­cil­i­ties.

This is a tragedy as Oban has all the fa­cil­i­ties a yachts­man might re­quire such as qual­ity mari­nas, ma­rine en­gi­neer­ing, ma­rine elec­tron­ics, boat build­ing re­pairs and ex­cel­lent stor­ing from the shops and su­per­mar­kets.

Tober­mory is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of the suc­cess of pro­vid­ing vis­i­tor berthing. I re­cently sailed into Tober­mory for a brief shop. We used, for one hour in the mid­dle of the af­ter­noon, the sec­ond last of the 50 avail­able berths, and this is only May.

The new tran­sit berths in Oban – and the clue is in the name – will not dis­ad­van­tage any lo­cal ma­rina busi­nesses as the max­i­mum num­ber of per­mit­ted nights is three. Rather it will com­ple­ment them. The more yachts that are at­tracted to Oban, the greater the chance that they will choose to base them­selves here per­ma­nently, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ex­cel­lent road, rail and even air con­nec­tions.

When the own­ers of the Blue Dragon, a diminu­tive yacht which cruised the West Coast in the late 1800s, looked for a year-long fa­cil­ity, where did they choose? Ker­rera boat yard.

The great­est ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the new tran­sit berths will be, firstly, Oban Ma­rina at Ker­rera; se­condly, Dun­staffnage Ma­rina; and, thirdly, Ar­do­ran Ma­rine. Cr­eran Ma­rine will also ben­e­fit as keep­ing yachts in the Oban area ben­e­fits all in the in­dus­try.

If yachts­men are not at­tracted to Oban, they will not be aware of the ben­e­fits of us­ing the area as a per­ma­nent base and that is where the real money lies. We have al­ready seen pres­sure be­ing ap­plied on Argyll and Bute Coun­cil for com­pen­sa­tion by the pre­vi­ous owner of Oban Ma­rina and it may be that re­cent cor­re­spon­dence is a pre­cur­sor to a sim­i­lar cyn­i­cal at­tempt to seek re­dress for what can only be of ben­e­fit.

This sug­gests a lack of un­der­stand­ing of the in­dus­try to an ex­tent that beg­gars be­lief. ‘Fly­ing a kite’ springs to mind. The coun­cil must not bow to these claims of po­ten­tial loss which are with­out foun­da­tion in fact. J Pa­trick Maclean, Oban.

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