Controversial Moorings Installed In Porthcressa Bay

The controversial plan to install permanent moorings in Porthcressa Bay got underway yesterday.

Back in April, Charlie Carss was granted a licence by the Newcastle-based Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to install the 20 moorings in the Bay, although a request for funding was turned down by the Local Action Group.

Yesterday, the first of the twenty yellow mooring buoys were installed at the northern western edge of Porthcressa. They’re attached to 3-ton sinkers on the seabed.

There are also two markers to show the location of the Western Power cable, as well as green and red port and starboard hand buoys, marking the safe entrance to the bay.

The appearance of the moorings has angered some local residents. Sheila Thomas who owns Auriga Guesthouse in Porthcressa said she, “couldn’t believe what they were doing to Porthcressa Bay, putting down all those mooring buoys.”

She added there are plenty of unused ones in St Mary’s harbour.

Gordon Bilsborough, who opposed the original plans, said he was concerned about safety because the moorings essentially block the entrance to the bay.

The MMO wrote a number of conditions into the licence granting the work. These included clear marking of the ‘no mooring’ zone around the electricity cable and maintaining a safety boat to be used where appropriate, because the lifeboat has had difficulties in the past reaching the area.

Only last month, a French yacht was rescued in the bay during strong winds.

Charles Cave, a yachtsman from Newton Ferrers, who has been sailing to Scilly for over 30 years, says he was “shocked” to hear about the plans.

He said one of the charms of the islands is the ability to anchor in different bays depending on the weather. He said the only other place to anchor on St Mary’s now is Watermill Cove, which is far from the town.

He said Porthcressa can be very dangerous in weather coming from the southeast and putting moorings in could give the impression it’s safe to moor there. The moorings will also force yachts to anchor further out in the bay, which he thinks will add to the danger.

He said it’s a, “retrograde step from the yachtsmen’s point of view.”

Harbourmaster Dale Clark told us the plan does not affect operations in St Mary’s harbour as yachts already moor in the Porthcressa area, although he said sailors who are unaware of the changes might be taken by surprise at being asked to pay for mooring there.

Earlier this year, Charlie Carss told us the project is in line with the Council’s Porthcressa re-development scheme, which is aiming to encourage visiting yachtsmen to continue to use Porthcressa, by offering, amongst other things, showers and washing facilities.

She said with visitor numbers dropping, and increasing transport costs to the islands, we should be encouraging these sailors, who can get here under their own steam.

And she said fears about late night access to the moorings are unfounded as there are visitor moorings in the Harbour, St Martins and Tresco, which visiting yachtsmen have approached by day and at night, over many, many years now, and Porthcressa will be no different.

We contacted Charlie yesterday but she declined to comment.


6 Responses to Controversial Moorings Installed In Porthcressa Bay

  1. Kim January 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I arrived in Porthcressa last summer to be confronted with the buoys. I anchored clear of them to be told to move by some people on a work boat wanting to lay more..I told them on I wasn’t moving and rowed ashore for a pint. When I did decide to pick one up over one night I was woken by someone wanting payment. As they had no ID, no way of issuing a receipt and could not provide details of who their indemnity insurance was with I invited them to get stuffed…..As did the French boats that heard our conversation. Nuff said…..

  2. Very Smelly Porth July 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Heard a rumour that Porthcressa is soon to be twinned with Torremolinos……..

    Watch this space !

  3. Stinking Porth July 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Seems a bit off that Mrs Carss made a statement to radio claiming that amongst other things the bouys would be small and green and yet they are bright yellow? I don’t think its going to make things any easier for the rescue services either as where they once had a clear area to work in will now be littered with these bouys.
    If you type in Porthcressa moorings into a search engine there seems to be alot of negative remarks from the Yachting press about this I find it questionable that the chairman of the RYA really did ring her personally to congratulate her on having such a good idea…
    Like sadporth i encourage people to ignore these awful bow beating gelcoat scratching eyesores and enjoy your freedom to anchor where you please!!!

  4. sadporth July 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    How can Charlie Carss believe that adding charges to yachtsman for mooring in Porthcressa Bay is encouraging visitors to the island, wanting them to pay for things that have been free. It must be pointed out to these yachtsmen that they DO NOT have to use these buoys, they can still anchor for nothing.

    • Adelheid Greven July 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      We were the ‘poor devils’ that thought anchoring was better than paying 20£ for a mooring… and payed a much higher price… If there is bad holding, as we experienced, it is safer to pick up a mooring than to drop an anchor.. We not only dragged our anchor but had on top of that back luck with a broken throttle cable… We’ve learned our lesson, that’s for sure. The crew from Pat Panick, the belgian boat that has been dragged out Porthcressa by the Whiteheads on July 7. (As we heard, we were not the first with trouble due to bad holding..)

      • Stinking Porth July 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        Potentially you might have been better off on a mooring but for the lifeboat crew I understand one of their greatest problems was the lack of room the moorings have left them to manuvre. Imagine what it will be like in there with a south easterly gale and several yachts thinking they are safe? What happens then as I doubt their safety boat will be seeing much action at 1am on a spring low tide.