First boats use Oban’s new pontoons
BUSINESS is blooming on Oban’s Esplanade after hotels and bars are reporting a ‘bounce’ from pontoons being built adjacent to the North Pier.
The pontoons are due to open officially later this year, but last weekend at the risk of owners themselves, the facility was already in use by at least six vessels. The boats were all sitting on the breakwater to the edge of the pontoon finger berths.
The placing of the pontoons off Oban’s Esplanade brings to the end years of wrangling about the project and its worth to the town.
Concerns have been raised about the viability of the pontoons while other marinas in the area have objected to them.
An aspiration for some form of pontoons around Oban’s Esplanade has been talked about for at least 60 years. As area committee chairman until May 2017, Councillor Roddy McCuish was at the forefront of delivering the project.
Derek Connery, chief executive of BID4Oban, said: ‘Obviously there are the direct benefits of bringing people to town, as increased footfall leads to increased spending.
‘I also think there will be some significant indirect benefits. First, the improved aesthetic of that part of the town and, secondly, believe it or not folks like to look at boats and, as such, visitors tend to gravitate to the Railway Pier, so this will keep them moving around the town. The improvement for visiting cruise ships is huge.’
One sea charter vessel owner told The Oban Times: ‘The pontoons are good news for everyone. Finally, Oban will have somewhere for groups to meet in the town centre and it will open up the entire West Coast for day trips out to the islands.
‘It has been almost impossible for bigger boats to find a regular berth in Oban in the summer. The pontoons are going to change all that.
‘This means more jobs for local people – as well as the knock-on effect of more tourists coming to the town for trips.’
Contractor Gael Force has employed Gareloch Support Services (GSS) and Oban-based North West Marine as its main sub-contractors.
There is no completion date for the pontoons, but at the weekend the busy port saw at least five yachts use the pontoons while pleasure cruiser the MV Balmoral made her way onto the North Pier.
Earlier in the year it was hoped the pontoons would be finished by late summer.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: ‘Work on developing Oban’s transit berthing facility is progressing well. We are now working on the utility connections and navigational set-up. This initiative is all about supporting the local economy and we welcome the widespread local support shown for it.’