Harbour News 1-20 June 2014

1st – 20th June (52 arrivals for the period)

Whitefish totalled 7750 boxes from 11 Anglo Spanish and 6 Scottish vessels. The Anglo fleet continue to fish well landing good shots of hake and ling weekly. The Scottish trawlers are targeting the seasonal squid fishery on Rockall with mixed results. Traditionally squid have appeared for a few weeks every 6 or 7 years covering large areas of seabed in massive spawning mats. Interestingly there has been a reasonable Rockall squid fishery for the past 5 years with boats catching as much as 100 boxes per haul. With demand driving market prices the appearance of squid on the grounds is a welcome lift for the Scottish fleet.

Shellfish landings have also been boosted by displaced North Sea vessels chasing the elusive Minch prawns. Landings have been reasonable but as ever one fears for the long term given the powerful and sustained effort on the grounds. The offshore crabbers continue to land weekly with a few lobsters starting to come ashore as an added bonus.

Non-fishing was restricted to the cruise ship Marco Polo in with 1100 passengers and crew on a bright dry day. The mainly British contingent spent the day roaming the village buying souvenirs and trying out the local fare.

Ferry Works

Great progress this week as the caisson was perfectly slotted into place to form the extension of the ferry pier following months of engineering design, construction and logistical planning.  As we’ve reported previously, on May 17, the caisson successfully sailed into Ullapool from Inchgreen dry dock on the Clyde where it was constructed in isolation. The new structure was berthed at the fish quay to allow the fenders and deck furniture to be fitted prior to being moved into its final home overnight Saturday 14th between ferry arrivals. In order to manoeuvre the caisson into its final position, powerful winches were installed at the bow end and two 10-tonne anchors moorings were placed on the sea bed to hold the structure in place.   A further winch was installed behind the Ice Plant at the round head to pull the caisson back onto a prepared docking point.  On Friday June 13th, the caisson was floated by pumping out water ballast and towed into deep water by the workboat Orcadia which had sailed down from Kirkwall for the work.  Divers then inspected the underside of the caisson to ensure it was clear of any debris remaining from the construction work.  Once the all clear was given with the departure of the Saturday evening ferry the structure was slowly winched across the harbour and held off the end of the ferry pier awaiting favourable tidal conditions.  Final touchdown was achieved at 5am when the structure was filled with 5000 cubic metres of sea water to anchor it in place prior to the local quarry rockfill ballast being delivered later this month.

Having ascertained that it was in the correct position and the ferries successfully berthed, all winches and moorings were retrieved.  Preparations are now underway to grout the base of the caisson onto the seabed foundation pad.  This will be done using 20 grout tubes built into the dividing walls of the caisson through which cementitious grout is pumped to fill the 60mm space between the caisson base and the seabed foundation.  Once the grouting has been completed (3800 bags of grout) and the divers have ascertained that the grout is continuous, the compartments will be filled with over 10000 tonnes of rock from Morefield Quarry.   This will replace the water ballast and fill the cells of the caisson completely prior to the casting of the 500mm deck slab.   All in there will be a further 6 weeks work to complete the pier extension -thankfully throughout that period the berth is fully operational.  The caisson is the end product of months of hard work, detailed planning and design calculations, engineering skill and expertise and all parties involved are now breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Tallships preparations continue apace with details of trip places still available and an evening to remember onboard Statsraad Lehmkuhl to be announced in next week’s edition of the UN.

Finally congratulations once again to the amazing Ullapool and District Junior Pipe Band for coming 2nd in the recent UK championships in Belfast. Fantastic effort everyone.