Ardfern Yacht Centre 01852 500247, VHF #80
Ardfern at the head of Loch Craignish is possibly one of the best known marinas on the West Coast, probably because it is the first one North of Crinan that Clyde sailors come across as they leave the Crinan Canal! It is also useful as a jumping off point for the Canal when returning, especially as it is more sheltered than Loch Crinan. It was also one of the earliest to be established on the West Coast.
The marina started around 1970 when a marine yard and some swinging moorings were established around the old “puffer” quay. It has been developed ever since to the facility that now exists. It has all the facilities associated with a marina and is a favourite spot for those leaving their boat on the West Coast whilst living elsewhere in Scotland (and even some in that other place, England!)
The marina and moorings are tucked away behind Eilean Mhic Chrion at the northern end of the Loch Craignish and is out of sight until you round the end of that island. The marina which is laid out in a hollow square is guarded by a breakwater which extends from Eilean Inshaig SW towards the north tip of Eilean Mhic Chrion leaving a small, lit gap as an entrance. (See the photo in the Navigation Gallery) This breakwater has two yellow lights spaced along its length and a Fl.G.3s light on the starboard side of the entrance. There is a red PH buoy marking the other side of the entrance.
It’s not the easiest place to get to by public transport; the only bus which calls there every four hours or so links Oban and Lochgilphead so you have to make your way to either of those for onward transit to Ardfern. Mind you, whichever route you choose you will pass through some of the most delightful scenery in Scotland (some would say the World).
Their website can be found at http://ardfernyacht.co.uk/
We have given a waypoint halfway up the loch abeam Eilean Mhic Chrion.
To get there from the North or West you will have to pass through the Dorus Mhor which is a complicated piece of water because, although deep, the tidal streams around it split and form back eddies and overfalls. These eddies and overfalls can be extreme in strong weather but in settled weather are not too much of a problem.
Coming from the North you will have been running down on the ebb tide. If you time your arrival at Craignish Point at slack water (about 1 Hour before Dover at Springs and 15mins before Dover at Neaps) then you can run through and pick up the beginning of the flood up Loch Craignish. Unfortunately, if you come through Corryvreckan the slack waters there are at exactly the same times as the slack waters here so you will have to come through Corryvreckan on the ebb about an hour before slack water to continue over to the Dorus Mhor and arrive there before the flood sets in from the East. As the slack water at Neaps at both locations lasts about an hour (and the streams not so strong) it would be much easier to plan this passage at Neaps.
From the South there are no real hazards apart from the isolated rock Sgeir Dubh Mhic Lartai SSW of Eilean Mhic Chrion, just come up the Sound of Jura on the flood and pass to the East of Eilean Mhic Chrion.
Once past the Waypoint you can leave Sgeir Dubh at the north end of the island to port or starboard as convenient but be careful of the reef extending 50m NW and 100m NNE from that island.
On the Admiralty chart the gap between the floating breakwater and the North shore of Eilean Mhic Chrion is almost invisible but be assured that the entrance is between that island and the breakwater not between Eilean Inshaig and the breakwater. The deeper water is to the starboard side of the entrance.
Your choices are to go alongside a pontoon if there is one available
pick up a mooring or anchor to the North of the moorings (but there may not be room here as most of the “good” spots are taken up by private moorings)
Ardfern Yacht Centre also has five moorings in the Lagoon on the left hand side away from the mooring association buoys.
There is a diagram of the layout of the marina as it was in 2016 and if intending to visit here it might be an idea to take a screen print of that and have it handy when coming in as instructions given over the radio can be ambiguous. A pontoon berth cost (2019) £2.65 per metre per day and a mooring was £1.80 per metre per day.
The pontoon berths are fully serviced with shore power (£3.85 per day) and water; toilets, showers and a laundrette are in the amenities block.
They can supply refills for Calor Gas and Camping Gaz and can refuel diesel but, regrettably no petrol.
There is a chandlery which has been described as the “Best on the West Coast” and which also supplies an outlet at East Loch Tarbert
They have an extensive boatyard and repair facility
An interesting service is their “Bring alongside” service. You can leave your boat on a long term mooring and when you need it they will bring the boat from the mooring to a pontoon for you to load and board her; mind you they do charge for the service.
The boatyard has a 40 ton Swedish boat hoist.
They have new Wifi on the pontoons and claim it is "much better"
The Gally of Lorne Hotel and restaurant is just along the road from The Marina and is a popular watering hole for visitors to the Marina