Steven Neilson reflects the history of Rothesay Harbour. He has worked here for 30 years, has been HM for 18 and is now the Area Harbour Master for the whole of Argyll and Bute. He follows the tradition of long serving HMs – the first one was recorded in 1793!
Rothesay is the “capital” of the Isle of Bute, and oozes history and activity. An incredible 650,000 ferry passengers pass under the HM’s watchful eye each year, (his office is high up in a tower!) and you get the feeling nothing happens on the Isle without his knowledge. The harbour itself is not very large, but as Steven says, it is ever changing. It is easy to imagine the Victorian paddle steamers discharging tourists and the famous flat bottomed Clyde Puffers unloading cargo into horses and carts waiting on the low tide beaches. .
We saw at first hand how Fog can paralyse a harbour. The HM showed us the huge bell that is still used to guide the ferries the last few yards into the harbour in fog, but on the morning we were there it was deemed too dangerous for any traffic to enter or depart, and Steven used his power to “close” the harbour until the fog had lifted. As an ex marine engineer, ship’s master and now HM, Steven typifies the range of skills so many harbour masters have. Added to that, he runs the non profit making Bute Berthing “Community” Company which uses the money earned from visiting yachts to support local youth activities. We were so impressed with everything about Rothesay.ù
On a (hilariously commentated) bus tour of the isle we learned about Bute and the Marquess of Bute, whose forebear literally built Cardiff (castle, civic buildings and port) as well as some beautiful houses on the Isle. For an amazing history lesson do look him up! Thank you to Steven and all his team for a very happy stay. .
About the Harbour Master Sailing Challenge: I am circumnavigating #GB in a #Nauticat attempting to visit every #harbour with a #harbourmaster #fundraising to #support @Seafarers_UK and their work in the #martime industry, supporting #seafarers and their #families. You can #sponsor my #challenge by visiting the link in my bio.