Scalloway Harbour was busy during the week up to Friday with assorted commercial shipping, but very much in the doldrums in terms of fishing vessel movements.
This was in stark contrast to the recent weeks of shipping activity that were strongly centred around whitefish landings and little else, forbye the regular aquaculture tenders operating.
The Sligo-registered crabber Niamh Eaghan put in another appearance at the beginning of the week, thought to be for repairs, during her continued operation west of Shetland.
The west commercial pier was dominated on Wednesday by the 2,920grt bitumen tanker Rathrowan. At 97 metres long she is certainly large in comparison to the older “tarry tankers” that have frequented Scalloway to discharge bitumen for the SIC plant at the Scord quarry over the years. Modern bitumen tankers are generally large, though this Norwegian-registered vessel is among the largest of her type to visit Scalloway. On this occasion she discharged 966 tonnes of tar brought from Dundee which was shuttled to the quarry by a constant chain of trucks over two days.
The 47m Montrose-registered standby and support vessel Viking Defender berthed on the south commercial quay of Blacksness pier on Thursday for crew and supplies while over on the east quay the 803 gross tonne Norwegian silage tanker Hordafor II was alongside to load over 200 tonnes of offal from the salmon processing factory.
The SIC ferry Filla berthed on Thursday for a predicted period of several weeks to undergo maintenance and annual inspection, while the regular visitor Grampian Frontier came in for a crew change and supplies the same day.
The combination of vessels creating a full and vibrant commercial quay for the first time this year, was reminiscent of the extended busy period enjoyed at this time last year.
The well-boat Ronja Skye continues to operate from Scalloway, replacing the absent Ronja Settler, and aqualine cage construction continues on the west quay with several more launched during the week.
Fishing activity was notably low, with only 460 boxes in total landed at Scalloway in this period. Monday and Tuesday last week had no landings at all. The vessels Fertile, Radiant Star, Defiant and Fairway contributed to the total, with the highest single landing coming from the Radiant Star with 152 boxes.
The Burra and Trondra Minibus Association had its annual general meeting recently, combining satisfaction at the success of the new vehicle so far and delight at new members joining the committee and with a degree of sadness at the standing down of the group’s long-standing chairman and possibly the treasurer.
The new Renault minibus, bought with a combination of funds raised locally and from the Big Lotto fund, has drawn much appreciation from its regular users, the local playgroup, with parents and children alike still treating it with the reverence befitting a new, hard-won, vehicle.
Soon to be announced are the winners of a competition held by the association in which entrants were asked to design pictures to adorn the new vehicle. Children from Hamnavoe Primary School were asked to contribute these images and one picture has been chosen from each of the three multi-age classes.
The competition entries were judged this week by Margaret and Michael Hannah and the designs passed on to local firm Art Machine, to be transferred on to the van. The finished design is hoped to be ready in coming weeks.
The minibus has been used by a number of groups other than the regular playgroup, including darts and hockey players and the Hamnavoe School. The most inspired use has so far come from the local radio racers’ club, which hired it to travel to Inverurie to compete in a remote-controlled car event, demonstrating the versatility and availability of the vehicle for all the community.
Looking to the future, the association not only foresees increased usage through the summer months by sports groups, but has estimated that numbers of playgroup children are set to increase in the area, giving the bus a full complement of regular passengers for the foreseeable future.
The meeting welcomed new members and bore the pre-ordained resignation, or perhaps retirement may be more accurate, of long-standing chairman Bobby Hunter from the committee.
Bobby has given his time and efforts to the community minibus cause for over 20 years and has seen six minibuses come and go during that time. He had stated previously that he would remain chairman until the new minibus was up and running and now stands down with the group having achieved that goal.
He said it was “time for some of the young eens to take ower” and praised his fellow committee members and their shared commitment to the association.
The next meeting, on 23rd March, will elect a new chairman and may also see the retirement of fellow stalwart and association treasurer Joyce Adamson, who has also been involved with the project for a considerable time and has also expressed an interest in stepping aside.
The remaining members are hopeful to attract new interest from local groups and secretary Linda Jackson was keen to stress that the minibus was available to “anybody, not just Burra and Trondra” and emphasise the low cost of hiring it.
She said the association was also open to representation on the committee of people from outwith the Burra and Trondra area prepared to get involved in running the scheme. She also noted the anticipation and excitement among local bairns and the group as a whole that the finished design will be rolled out soon.
Marina nears completion
The eagerly-awaited Hamnavoe marina is now in the final stages of assembly and nearing readiness for its official opening.
The marina, well placed in a community with such a long fishing and marine heritage, has been pre-fabricated by Scottish firm Varis Engineering before assembly locally.
Varis, based in Forres, apparently prides itself on manufacturing marina assemblies such as this to a particularly high standard. It is already thought that the arms between berths are more buoyant and provide more stable access to vessels than those in many local marinas, providing enhanced safety and stability to users as well as improved functionality for small boat fishing related activity.
The actual assembly is hoped to be completed within another week or so, with only a couple of the outer berths left to finish, some peripheral fendering and buoyancy adjustment and the electricity supply to be installed.
The marina will be officially opened on 4th April. This event will start at 7pm and after the official opening attendees are invited back to the Hamnavoe Public Hall to continue the evening.
Prior to the opening there will be a meeting for marina members held by the Hamnavoe Marina Users Association on Saturday 21st March, commencing at 2.30pm in the Hamnavoe Public Hall.