Are we past the worst? The Harbour has comfortably broken even; the fishing fleet is managing to maintain its level of exports to both China and the EU (albeit with increased bureaucracy); another round of now-routine dredging has begun; the contract has been let for the Harbour workshop and maritime units at Batson at a reduced, so therefore affordable, price; and the great majority of last year’s seasonal staff are returning so there should be a full complement on 12 April when the Harbour is scheduled to reopen.
The March Harbour Board meeting was presented with not one, but two, concept proposals for catering services on the water. The larger of the these was for a purpose-built floating restaurant on a catamaran 36m long by 14m wide, with pontoon extensions which would give it an overall beam of 21m. The restaurant would be a low visual-impact single-storey cedar-clad building with seating for 46 inside and 42 outside, plus 30 outside for a bar. The idea is to serve locally-caught fish to create “a unique dining experience”.
The second proposal was for “a purpose-built motorised floating platform” about 9-10 metres long which would have an artisan coffee and juice bar to supply RIBs (of which there are several hundred in the Harbour) on their way to the beaches and other parts of the Harbour, a bit like a drive-through coffee house. Although the platform would have an engine, it would be moored in a quiet spot out of the navigation. In the evening it would change over to supplying the crews of visiting yachts. The platform would have wide enough decks to provide mooring for about 20 RIBs.
Proposals like these give rise to real dilemmas. On the one hand, one wants to do everything possible to encourage local initiative and investment, to generate new businesses and see them grow. On the other hand, the Harbour is a busy place, indeed almost at saturation point in the high season. The technical issues – fire and safety regulations, environmental implications, servicing large vessels, grey water and sewage, planning permission – may be relatively easier to solve than where these facilities can operate without upsetting the navigation or causing other difficulties.
Fortunately, that is a debate for further down the line. Both schemes will come back to the Board some time in the autumn with more definition and also, presumably, following discussions and further thoughts about how to make them work as a business which would enhance the Harbour.