During the first phase of the 4 phase project, facilities were improved in order to reflect the demands of customers, who encompass both residents and visitors. These improvements included the creation of more walk-ashore pontooning and the upgrade of the fuel system to a floating fuel system, which has created better access and allows the harbour to deal with more customers at any one time. A safer area for commercial users has also been created.
Phase One was completed before Easter, and three more phases are to follow. The second phase is to put in a new quay on the south-west corner of the harbour, which will cost in the region of £500,000 to £600,000. The commissioners have stated that the phase will not take place this winter, as they wish to review the success of the first phase before committing to the second, third and fourth.
The harbour is unlike many others, in that approximately half of the space is dedicated to the visitors. Chief Executive and Harbour Master Chris Lisher explained: “In a year we have 15,000 overnight visiting boats, plus another 4000 short term (lunch time) visitors. Overall, we’re bringing in excess of 80,000 visitors into Yarmouth and the west of the Isle of Wight, based on four people per boat.”
Chris Lisher commented that the project ran smoothly and that there were no particular challenges other than completing the project before Easter, which is a peak time for the harbour. He was keen to describe some of innovative aspects of the project: “We’ve used a new product called kebony for the decking rather than the normal hardwood, which is Balau. Kebony is a treated softwood that I think we all want to give a try, to see if it’s as long lasting and durable as the hardwoods, as we are aware of the environmental impact of hardwoods and they are becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of.”
Walcon Marine installed the piling and pontooning, whilst Taylor Fuel Controls constructed the fuel pontoon. Marina Projects were the consultants for the whole project. The improvements were made after a lengthy consultation with the harbour’s users – including resident mooring holders, visitors and residents of the town.
Chris Lisher explained the main aims of the project. He said:
“We want to increase revenue for the harbour and also put in better facilities for customers. More and more customers want convenience, power, water and the ability to get off their boat into the town whenever they want, rather than having to be on a buoy or a distant pontoon and hire a harbour taxi or a dingy.”
The Isle of Wight is separated from the mainland by the Solent, a 3-4 mile stretch of water which is protected from the prevailing South Westerly wind, making it the premier area for boating in the UK. At the west of the island, there is a car ferry that runs from Yarmouth to Lymington in the New Forest. This runs every ¾ of an hour, carrying 60 to 70 cars (around 200 to 300 people) and generates around 40% of the income. There are also around 25 commercial vessels, such as small fishing boats and training boats.
A popular visitor destination, the harbour has a great range of facilities. These include: waste disposal, showers, slipways, fuel, electricity, internet access, a launderette, disabled facilities, cranage and a dinghy park. The harbour is also home to a range of exciting events such as the Yarmouth Carnival & Regatta, which was held from the 13th until the 20th of August this year, and the Old Gaffers Festival in early June.
Yarmouth itself is rich with nature and culture. The West Wight is renowned for its wonderful scenery – most of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – and it is home to numerous attractions, such as the Brighstone Village Museum in Calbourne and the Hill Farm Stables Riding School and Pony Club in Freshwater. There is also a range of activities available, such as walking, cycling and riding.