Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  


Gills Harbour Spring, 2015 - Gearing Up

10th May 2015

Photograph of Gills Harbour Spring, 2015 - Gearing Up

Community-owned Gills Harbour is the most Northerly seaport on the British mainland, lying on the shores of the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound, just off the A 836 road, only four miles West of John O'Groats.

The spring of 2015 has seen some significant developments locally, both in sea-transport and marine electricity, that bode well for the future of the little port on the inland 'apex' of Gills Bay; it belongs to the 600 people living along the North coast. of Canisbay, Caithness.

Gills Harbour is best-known as the mainland terminus of the busy 15 mile 'short sea route' to Orkney. Operators Pentland Ferries Ltd signalled that Summer was on its way by completing its first scheduled 'four return-trip' crossings of 2015 from Gills with its modern 70 metre-long catamaran RO:RO passenger and vehicle ferry Pentalina on Saturday, May 2, to cope with busy Bank Holiday demand; the vessel provides three daily return trips year-round, with an extra run in the summer season.

Soon Gills Harbour will witness a second 70 metre RO:RO company ship on the route, with the first call by the newly-refitted Orcadia expected within c. 6 /8 weeks (end June; early July, 2015). This vessel, formerly known as Saturn, will provide a freight service to free-up extra space for cars and passengers on Pentalina at peak times, according to the company's MD Mr Andrew Banks OBE.

She underwent upgrading and replacement procedures in dry-and wet-dock in Greenock, on the Lower Clyde in Renfrew-shire, during April, while further on-board engineering work is on-going in Orkney now.

The sea-transport entrepreneur has got the North of Scotland's off-shore and on-shore renewables industry excited, as Pentland Ferries' Orcadia is also being made available to freight large or bulky components for wind and tidal turbines directly to the 'link-span' at Gills Harbour, or to many other ports in the Highlands and Islands with compatible, alterable, 'ramps' for ship-to-shore loading/unloading.

Viewers of BBC Scotland Landward TV programme in early May saw Pentalina in action, but were also given an insight into a novel construction and sub-sea drilling programme on the shores of Gills Bay, that will see world-wide attention focussed on the Firth's Inner Sound next year.

This was at Canisbay's Ness of Quoys, where the land-side erection of facilities to handle renewable electricity generated for Atlantis Resource plc's MeyGen Ltd subsidiary by the fast-flows of the Pentland sea-currents is well under way, in a programme with international electrical contractors ABB is the lead role.

The seaward aspect of the innovative £50 million Atlantis development will see four tidal turbines being emplaced during 2016 on the Inner Sound's 35 metre deep seabed, a World-first. This aspect of the 'horizontal hydro' electric scheme is the responsibility of James Fisher Marine Services Ltd (JFMS), itself a subsidiary of James Fisher & Sons plc., one of the UK's most innovative shipping and logistics public companies from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Gills Harbour lies just over one mile from the 'offshore' scene of the four-turbine 'demonstration tidal array' and several calls by powerful rectangular-shaped 25 metre-long many-purpose little ships, known as multi-cats, have already been made during winter and spring of this year by such vessels under JFMS aegis ... with more calls to come in an on-going advertised programme.

'Directional' drilling into the Caithness flagstone bedrock under the Gills Bay coastline into the Inner Sound from Ness of Quoys site is actively going ahead ; the bore-holes will be used to 'thread' the cables coming ashore from the generating sub-sea turbines.

The bore-holes reach the seabed about 600 metres offshore and those points have been marked by sea-safety navigational buoys laid by the £3.5 million multi-cat C-Odyssey in an operation from Gills Harbour in March, 2015.

Multi-cats will be involved in towage, cable-laying support and general survey as the roll-out continues this year and next, and the directors of Gills Harbour Ltd are preparing to embark on a project to make the small port's Inner Basin more suitable for offering round-the-clock facilities to the operators of such little ships.

The 8 MW 'demonstration array' is the start of a 400 MW Inner Sound sub-sea power-station that Atlantis Resource hopes to complete by the early 2020s.

Chairman Bill Mowat, a four-term former Highland Councillor for NE Caithness, says: 'We are very much aware that Gills Harbour is the favoured shore base for multi-cats & other work-vessels involved in tidal electricity projects in this area. Thus we are listening very carefully to proposals from operators of such mini-ships, and our directors and members are anticipating some public-sector support in making our facility better for those, as well as for our regular existing users'.

Energy Minister Mr Fergus Ewing MSP told the community company in early May that he plans to visit Gills Harbour 'soon'.



Related Businesses


Related Articles

MV Alfred And MV Pentalina Together At GillsThumbnail for article : MV Alfred And MV Pentalina Together At Gills
An 'old friend' returns to Gills Bay after an absence of manymonths.   The 2,400 tonne 70 m.  
Normand Cutter, The Norwegian-owned Offshore Construction Vessel at GillsThumbnail for article : Normand Cutter, The Norwegian-owned Offshore Construction Vessel at Gills
Here is the Normand Cutter, the Norwegian-owned offshore construction vessel that has been the base for works on Simec Atlantis Energy's (SAE's) MeyGen site in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound, off Gills Bay during the current neap-tide sequence, that has lasted most of the week commencing 11.08.20.   Picture by retired C of S Kirk Minister the Rev Lyall Rennie, who lives at Lower Warse, Canisbay, on the shores of Gills Bay..  
Safe Loading In Rough Seas At Gills Harbour Pentland FerriesThumbnail for article : Safe Loading In Rough Seas At Gills Harbour Pentland Ferries
With expert guidance from the crew of Pentland Ferries "Alfred" this lorry safely loads onto the ferry at Gills Harbour, Caithness, today (9 January 2019), for her crossing to St Margarets Hope.   Sea swells were evident, making the job even harder & causing the ferry to be delayed.  
New Ferry Mv Alfred Set For First Crossing Of Pentland FirthThumbnail for article : New Ferry Mv Alfred Set For First Crossing Of Pentland Firth
Pentland Ferries' new £14-million vessel, mv Alfred is almost ready to make its first trip from St Margaret's Hope to Gills Bay on Friday, 1st November 2019.   The new ferry arrived on 9th October 2019 after completing its journey from the shipbuilders in Vietnam for the final fittings to be carried at Kirkwall after quick call at St Margarets Hope where local children had a chance to get a glimpse of it.  
New Ferry For Pentland Ferries Arrives SafelyThumbnail for article : New Ferry For Pentland Ferries Arrives Safely
Scotland's most modern + environmentally-friendly, fuel-efficient ROPAX ferry ship rge MV Alfred, arrived AM today (Wed 09.10.19 at St Margarets Hope.   The boat went round to Kirkwall immediately at the end of 9,000+ miles voyage from the Strategic Marine yard near Ho Chi Minh city (ex.  
New Ferry For Pentland Ferries On Its Way From VietnamThumbnail for article : New Ferry For Pentland Ferries On Its Way From Vietnam
Pentland Ferries has announced that the company's new ship, Alfred, left the yard in Vietnam, yesterday morning, Thursday, to start the long voyage home to Orkney.   Director of Pentland Ferries, Kathryn Scollie, said: "We are delighted that the MV Alfred is now on her way.  
Gills Harbour Ltd Awards Contract To Local FirmThumbnail for article : Gills Harbour Ltd Awards Contract To Local Firm
Gills Harbour Ltd, the community-owned body that owns & operates the busy little port on Caithness's North Coast, has awarded a remedial contract to a Wick-based company.   The deal, won in a competitive tender, has gone to builders/civil engineers Messrs GMR Henderson Ltd, of Martha Terrace in Wick.  
Latest Update From Gills Harbour To Caithness Transport ForumThumbnail for article : Latest Update From Gills Harbour To Caithness Transport Forum
A. Alfred Banks, Born Kirkwall Born 13 May 1931 Died 26 January 2019Thumbnail for article : A. Alfred Banks, Born Kirkwall Born 13 May 1931 Died 26 January 2019
A Alfred Banks, born Kirkwall, Orkney 13 May 1931 died St.  Margaret's Hope, Orkney, 26 January 2019.  
Tidal Turbines Returned To Meygen Site In The Pentland FirthThumbnail for article : Tidal Turbines Returned To Meygen Site In The Pentland Firth
The big offshore construction vessel Seabed Stingray (8,878 tonnes) arrived in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound from the Cromarty Firth's Nigg Energy Park around 07:00 on Monday (15.10.18) morning with a very special cargo on board.   The 121 metre-long vessel was in the narrow strait between Gills Bay and Stroma Island to replace two of the four 'pioneering' tidal turbines that had been lifted out from SIMEC Atlantis Energy's MeyGen site last Summer for inspection and modification at Nigg.