Kimelford Yacht Haven 01852 200248, VHF #80,
Melfort Pier 01852 200343
Loch Melfort is a well sheltered, mainland loch to the North of Craobh Haven in behind Seil Island and Luing Island. One has to circumnavigate Luing to get to it. Inside the loch there are a fair few places for an overnight stop depending on one’s preference and the wind direction. It is an interesting place to navigate to; whether coming from Crinan, Oban, or from the Outer Isles it can present some interesting choices because the shortest routes involve transiting Corryvreckan, the Grey Dogs channel, or further North, Cuan Sound. We have described Cuan Sound below but have left Corryvreckan & the Grey Dogs to those who have more knowledge of them.
We didn’t visit Melfort Pier when we were here so the reports of the services there are hearsay.
Kimelford Yacht Haven is at the Eastern end of the Loch and as well as moorings it has a pontoon about 40m long which will take yachts overnight. This is linked to the shore by a raised walkway into a large, unpaved area used for boat storage and a large hangar-like construction which houses the office and numerous workshops along with a large area for covered boat storage. There is a small wooden cottage on the shore as you turn towards the hangar but this is private property, not an amenities building which you may think it is! The amenities are at the far left hand end of the hangar building as you look at it, the office is at the nearer right hand end.
Kimelford Yacht Haven website is http://www.kilmelfordyachthaven.co.uk/
From the South one may enter either side of Shuna and either side of Eilean Gamhna.
From the North the quickest way is through Cuan Sound. This Sound is interesting and we wouldn’t attempt it without either a good Pilot book or some large scale charts. It can be difficult to pick out the entrance at the North end but, in good visibility, if you can pick out the Pylons carrying the overhead power cable they can be of assistance. Watch out for charted, off-lying rocks along the coast between here and Easedale.
The West flowing floodtide starts at about 0430 hours after HW Oban at Springs and 0515 after HW Oban at Neaps; the tide is very strong and creates turbulence which will screw your boat around as you go through.
The first half mile is fairly straight forward until you reach the dog-leg where you have to identify the perch at the north end of Cleit Rock (that perch is about 8 metres inboard from the end of Cleit Rock); you pass between this perch and the South end of Seil Island but standing off from Seil to avoid the rocks there; the passage is about 75 yards wide at this point.
We have put an extract from our chart plotter in the Navigation Gallery to show this route.
If you have come in from the West through Corryvreckan you then pass to the South of Luing and then either up the Sound of Shuna or through Loch Shuna past Craobh Haven.
Once in Loch Melfort be aware of Campbell Rock and its associated reef across the middle of the entrance. There was a buoy at the Southern end of that reef when we entered in 2016 which is not on the chart. It may have been a pot buoy but it served as a good visual to avoid the rock!
The run into Melfort Pier is clear of danger apart from a rocky foreshore. There are lights on the pier and the shore to the NE of that; they are not “lead in” lights but if you split them on a Northerly heading you would arrive fairly close to the pontoon on your port side.
Sailing into Kimelford is confusing; there is a red buoy on the rocks sticking out on the North side of the entrance and a green buoy (replacing the old perch) on the rock off the South shore. The problem is that the green perch is masked by the moorings and they sometimes have a work barge close to it. You need to be careful because, basically, there is a shallow reef from the shore to the rock marked by the perch. The best approach would be to remain outside the moorings (but clear of the red mark on the North shore) and when the pontoon is abeam make towards that through the mooring trots.
There are options for visitors’ buoys and anchoring in Loch Melfort as well as alongside,....
.... serviced berths at the Kimelford Yacht Haven. You will find the buoys at both Kimelford and Melfort pier whilst there are anchorages in two bays (Asknish Bay and Kames Bay) There are four orange/red visitors buoys in Asknish Bay for the use of patrons of the Loch Melfort Hotel on the shore there during the summer.
Melfort Pier. There is a pontoon at the end of the pier for loading/offloading and visitors’ buoys to the SW of that. If you can take the ground there may be room inside the small harbour to the NE of the pier (but doubtful) Its attraction is that there is a good hotel/restaurant ashore. The pontoons in the liitle harbour just to the East of the Pier itself are private
Kimelford Yacht Haven. This is fairly close to being a marina. The pontoons are fully serviced with water and shore power and they have a toilet and shower facility. The pontoon is basically a hammerhead at the end of a long walkway - there is enough water on both sides of the pontoon to take a 2m draft at LWS, but stay fairly tight on the run in to the inside berths.
We were lucky in that we stayed overnight at Kimelford in a dry spell but we think that the unpaved yard, well chewed-up by their caterpillar tracked tractor would be difficult in the dark so a hand torch would be recommended if you need to visit the amenities in the dark.
Their charges have changed for this summer (2022). A mooring will cost £2.05 pmpn with a minimum of £16 and an alongside berth £3.00 pmpn with aminimum of £25.. Both these prices are inclusive of VAT and the alongside berthing includes access to shore power and water.
Melfort Pier. There used to be a pontoon on this pier but they no longer deploy it. There are normally some visitors buoys if you intend using the Hotel and they can make arrangements for laundry. Ther is no longer water or shore power or water on the peir.
Kimelford Yacht Haven. The pontoon is fully serviced with water, shore power and diesel. They have a large marine engineering facility with ashore winter berths (some under cover) and fully equipped workshops. There is also a 15 ton boat hoist.
There are showers (coin op) and toilets in the hangar
Both Calor and Camping gas are available.
They have free Wifi.
Kimelford Haven has a new snack and light lunch facility on sight
As we have mentioned there is hotel at Melfort Pier but at Kimelford the village is about a mile away where there is a Post Office, a pub and a shop.
There are buses to Lochgilphead and Oban at the road end and the timetable is available at the office. (Unfortunately no bus back from the pub in the evening!)