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Tarbert, in Harris, has always been seen as a pretty village or township. What has added to its attraction and interests in many ways recently is the Isle of Harris Marina, which has pontoons for visitors, not only in Tarbert, but also in the North Harbour of Scalpay.
At the time when funding was being sought for setting it up, I remember being asked, as a local councillor, to endorse points being made in an application for funding by the Project Steering Group chairman.
When sufficient funding was obtained,the project went ahead and the marina began operations in May 2018.
Then quite recently came the very interesting and exciting news that a Festival of the Sea was to be held in Harris – Feis Mara Na Hearadh – from July 24-27, 2019.
The pontoons in Tarbert and in Scalpay will be involved this weekend and there is an impressive list of marine activities to take place.
While it is clear that the marina has been very busy from the start, this seems like a big step forward.
I decided to find out more about it and went looking for the marine manager, Mr Fred Taylor.
Although he is extremely busy at the height of the visitor season, and also with preparation for the Feis, he agreed to meet with me.
I met with him in the marina just after he had spent that morning on safety sessions. He listed the marina facilities, which include electricity, water, showers, toilets, laundry and good wifi connectivity, which is very important.
Gas and fuel are also available. Sailors can also take advantage of car and bicycle hire so they can visit the famed beaches of South Harris.
The Tarbert pontoons are in the heart of the village, in front of the award-winning Isle of Harris distillery, and the Harris Tweed exhibition centre and shop are behind it.
It is well known that all local businesses have benefited – hotels, cafes, local shops and more – from the visits of marine tourists.
Fred said the marina’s aim is to provide local facilities and true Harris hospitality.
He spoke of the numbers who had visited, and of the increase this year in May and June compared to the same time in 2018.
Next year is the year of Coasts and Waters which means a greater increase can be expected.
The name Taylor was known to me since Fred’s father had owned the island of Scalpay.
It was a busy, lively community, fishing being the main industry at the time. Later Mr Taylor gave the island to the community.
Later on, the Scalpay community decided to join in with the North Harris Trust which owns the North Harris land.
I was interested in how Fred had become manager of the Isle of Harris Marina.
He told me his father had bought Scalpay in 1976,and bought a house in Scotsay, an island near Scalpay in East Loch Tarbert. In 1989 he moved to Ardnakille in Scalpay. He died in 1998.
A sunny day in Tarbert marina.
NO F30 sunny day in tarbert