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Lerwick opens pontoons

Lerwick Harbour has improved its status as a “place to meet-and-compete” for yacht crews in the northern North Sea with the restoration of the full berthing system at the Shetland port.

Pontoon access was restricted at Albert Wharf in 2013 and at Victoria Pier South in 2014 and 2015 because of the presence in the harbour of accommodation barges moored alongside to house workers constructing a gas terminal in the islands.

Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, explained: “It was always our plan to restore the pontoons at the town-centre Victoria Pier following the departure of the barges and we have been able to do so in time for this season, with the pontoons refurbished.”

There are also two sets of pontoons at Albert Dock, including one used by yachts when not serving tenders from cruise ships at the port’s deep-water anchorages.

At 60 degrees north and the crossroads of the North Sea and Atlantic, Lerwick is Britain’s “Top Port” – the most northerly commercial harbour in the country – attracting over 450 yachts annually, including repeat visits and international events.

Sandra Laurenson said: “Lerwick is the perfect base for sailing the islands of the simmer dim – where the sun barely sets in summer on Shetland’s 1,700-miles of spectacular coastline – as well as further afield. The port is increasingly a staging post for voyages to-and-from Arctic waters and there is a trend to larger craft calling.”

With the season building from May onwards, this year has seen the usual early arrivals from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.                                                                                                                             

Highlight of the summer will be the 30th annual Bergen-Shetland Race, with yachts at Lerwick from 23-25 June. With one UK entry and the rest Norwegian so far, they include many repeat visitors, among them the race founder Bjarne Møster who started the race in 1987. More than 30 yachts and over 200 crew are expected.

Lerwick’s popularity as a place to compete includes the planned return of the 1000-Mile double-handed race from the Netherlands in 2017 and of the 4-yearly Round Britain & Ireland Race in 2018.

Lerwick’s warm welcome includes full yacht services and the Port Authority working with Lerwick Boat Club to provide shower and laundry facilities, while Shetland provides a wonderful mix of scenery, wildlife, entertainment, heritage and culture, and fine food.