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.


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