Skipper floats heritage harbour plan

Stefan Fritz, Jules Shaughnessy and Islay the shipdog aboard the Lady of Avenel.

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The skipper of a tall ship has expressed interest in putting down anchor in Ellenabeich to develop a heritage harbour and floating glamping pod site.

Seil and Easdale Community Council has already met with Kerrera-based Stefan Fritz who owns seafaring adventure charter-boat Lady of Avenel – a 102ft Brigantine square-rigger originally built in Russia in 1969 as a motor ship but converted to a sailing ship in 1992.

Proposals have now gone out to the community for feedback and a public meeting will be organised soon.

Ellenabeich’s old pier, chunks of shoreline and land around the conservation village are up for sale, generating interest from potential buyers, including Mr Fritz and the community itself with crowdfunding a possible option.

Mr Fritz, who had previously considered London’s East India dock for a similar idea, said the golden opportunity of spotting the land for sale at Ellenabeich was just what he had been looking for as he and his wife have just put in for planning permission to build a home on Kerrera and it was ‘too good an opportunity to let go’.

The plan, if a purchase bid goes ahead and if necessary permissions are given, would be to repair the quarry at the back of The Oyster Bar, making room for the Lady of Avenel, as well as a puffer ship similar to the Vital Spark, and one or two other historic vessels.

Floating glamping pods on the quarry next to the island hall would also be in the plan, as would restoring the dilapidated old wooden pier and sea wall so people could board the historic ships. An on-water visitor centre and shop could also follow and there would be maritime training and work experience opportunities too.

Mr Fritz said there will be lots of technicalities to look carefully into, in particular the state of the quarries: ‘There will be some people who are quite shocked and frightened by the idea and there will be people who think it is exciting and could be incredible for the area. We will have a public meeting.

‘It’s very early days so we are staying open-minded and want to hear what the community  thinks.

‘What is certain is that we will only do this with the community’s blessing or we won’t be doing it all. If it’s not what the community wants then we’ll leave them with it,’ said Mr Fritz.

To make the plans become reality, financial backers will be needed.

Seil and Easdale Community Council convenor Zim Knight said: ‘We have met with the proposer and have put the information out there in the community. It’s by no means a done deal and indeed may never get off the ground, so we are continuing to work on other options available to us.’