For three decades now a variety of groups and initiatives have been trying to get the right sort of marina for the waterfront town of Oban.
The well managed Tobermory Harbour marina development provides all of the evidence anyone could possibly need for how successful this provision for the important leisure sailing market can be, in sustainability and in developing a worthwhile visitor market.
Yet successive administrations at Argyll and Bute Council have proved more effective at resisting an initiative that, for whatever reasons, they clearly do not want to see than they have been in making anything else happen.
This has been nothing more than a spoiling game at great cost to Oban. It has not been about promoting any alternative becasue nothing at all has happened.
But let’s forget the whys.
After inexplicable knockbacks contrived through means which do not bear even a cursory examination, Oban Bay Marine has had to submit a new planning application for its proposed Oban transit marina.
A transit marina is exactly the right concept – it’s not a long stay facility, nor is it a major overwintering facility. It’s a short stay park for seasonal visiting yachts cruising Argyll and the Isles – and it offers them walk-ashore berths in the heart of the town.
These are yachts that arrive, refuel, rewater, restock, shop, eat, drink, visit, explore – and move on.
A town capable of giving them this sort of facility and the proactive welcome Oban can muster, will benefit in compound terms by word of mouth recommendations.
Oban, with the annual signature sailing events run by Oban Sailing Club (the Round Mull and the West Highland Yachting Week with the feeder races pulling in yachts from Ireland, Ayrshire and further away) is on the sailing map already – but more peripherally than it deserves to be.
The driver of growth
The provision of the sort of shoreside marina facility Oban Bay Marine propose is a win for all concerned. The town will look better, brighter, more active… and ‘walk ashore’ berths will bring substantial business to the town. They make sail cruising easy.
Waterfront cafes and restaurants will find window tables at an even greater premium. Watching boats is like watching planes – the way they have to be managed, the way they move, their capacity to be here now and gone – anywhere – in a minute, is close to mythical. They carry with them the sense of connectedness with worlds most of us cannot imagine. Even going out in a boat to the approaches to Oban Bay and looking back towards a town you think you know takes you to a new place.
Sailors are atrracted by good up-to-the-mark sailing kit and have an eye for neat shore-going gear. Only in extreme racing yachts, where an extra ounce slows performance, is there no room for some presents to take home.
When they’re at a waterfront marina, sailors will eat and drink ashore from choice. When they’re on passage, they have no choice – and however great the simplest food tastes on the water, variety is the spice of life.
A transit marina is the ideal addition to Oban’s visitor offer. It open up the town as the central base it should be for access to the quite stunning sailing grounds of Argyll and the Isles.
And a transit marina is unselfish. The host town benefits but so do the other marinas it links to as a stepping stone in a much needed chain.
This project is not just good for Oban – it is good for Argyll.
The changes to the Oban Bay Marine proposal make it a piled marina rather than one with anchored pontoons – a huge improvement. They also see the pedestrian access moved from the North Pier to the Esplanade.
Details are HERE on the Oban Bay Marine website.
You can help – and your help will be appreciated
It would help this worthwhile initiative a great deal if all of those who respond positively to its potential and who support it would register their comments HERE on the Council website - before the end of Tuesday 24th April. You will see the ‘Make a Public Comment’ button at the top right of the screen.
Because this is a project that matters to Argyll and the Isles as well as to Oban – because having such a facility in the embrace of this town will bring leisure sailors to Oban via other marinas and via the Crinan Canal – comments arte appropriate from anyone with an interest in this transit marina actually happening. That includes the sailing fraternity who would use it. Imagine the convenience during West Highland Yachting Week alone.
Whatever you think - and of course this includes objections – please go to the Council website and say it.
And for supporters, please remember that people are always driven to object but rarely to support – which produces inaccurate impressions. If you want to see this project and the benefits it will bring succeed, please tell the council what you feel and why. What’s wrong with now.