Isle of Harris Marina - Pontoon Installation Case Study

In January 2017, Gael Force was confirmed as the successful bidder for Harris Development Limited’s project to design, fabricate and install two yacht and small vessel pontoon marinas; one at Tarbert and the other in the North Harbour on the Isle of Scalpay.

This installation would become the first to include the manufacturer’s own large floating concrete breakwaters, drawing on over 25 years of established in-house experience in fabricating concrete marine structures at their own quayside facilities in the UK.

Having developed a long, strong relationship with consulting engineers Wallace Stone, and with a deep-rooted connection and understanding of the rugged Hebridean environment, Gael Force’s product and service was the ideal match to turn this client’s concept into reality with full integrity.


Isle of Harris Marina, Wallace Stone Marine Consulting Civil Engineers


East Loch Tarbert and Scalpay Isle of Harris.

  • Principal Contractor for the whole project.
  • Design, Construction and Installation of the pontoons.
  • Design and Supply of Mooring system.
  • Principal Designer & Client Project Manager role carried out by consulting engineers Wallace Stone.

The Challenge

The client faced issues of varying degrees of importance across the two sites. At Scalpay, a sheltered site offered an uncomplicated installation. The main challenge was to ensure that access to the fisherman’s pier was maintained for working vessels.

For the installation at Tarbert, the environment was considerably more challenging. A very exposed site from the South East, the area is subject to non-prevailing conditions and fairly significant wave climate. In addition, the installation needed to be non-obstructive to ferry operations accessing the nearby terminal.

“The Isle of Harris Marina presented a unique challenge to whoever was awarded the contract for the design, manufacture and installation of pontoon facilities. The brief was for not one, but two installations at opposite ends of East Loch Tarbert with different wind and wave exposure characteristics.”

Fred Taylor, Isle of Harris Marina

The Solution

For both sites, Gael Force specified SeaHaven HD Pontoons - specifically designed to cope with the challenging environments. As per the client’s requirements, 220m of the SeaHaven HD Pontoons were installed across the two sites.

Each float is fully interchangeable and filled with polystyrene. Their construction is heavy-duty and rotationally moulded to provide the necessary buoyancy whilst also remaining resistant to impact damage, frost and long-term decay such as spalling.

To handle the substantial wave heights at Tarbert, Gael Force proposed a bespoke arrangement of 2 x 20m long floating concrete attenuators, moored independently from each other.

A bridge unit was manufactured in-house to provide access between the two units. Placement of the bridge and keeping it in place during more turbulent situations presented a challenge in itself, therefore, a fixed swivel hinge unit was installed at one end of the bridge to accommodate a full range of motions while a roller unit at the other end offered a fair degree of stability under movement.

Upon presenting this solution to Wallace Stone and Harris Development Limited, both gave their full endorsement to Gael Force’s plans owing to a strong understanding of the project requirements, confidence in their skill-set and past experience of their end-to-end services.

Minimal reliance on external expertise invariably meant far fewer mark-ups on sub-contractors compared to competitors, thus offering a cost-effective solution. Gael Force’s very own quayside facilities also meant complete control over the towing out of site without the need for increased transport costs.

All project products and services were provided within a framework of fully certified ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System and by BS 1090 certified fabricators.

”Gael Force was, from the outset, professional, pragmatic and responsive. The quality of the hardware and the confident installation is reassuring to all users and its fresh, clean and practical look has been commented on by the visiting yacht crews in our first successful season. Thank you, Gael Force, for still being around too after completion to make sure that everything continues to function as it should and for responding quickly to any queries.”

Fred Taylor, Isle of Harris Marina


The Isle of Harris Hub was completed in October 2017, completing a chain of pontoon facilities including Stornoway, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Castlebay.

This has strengthened the reputation of the Outer Hebrides as a premium sailing and cruising destination.

The facilities bring significant economic benefits to the area and have gone some distance in contributing towards the Scottish Government's strategic plans to develop and lead the growth of sailing tourism in Scotland.

Get in touch to discuss your marina related requirements

Stewart Munro-White
Pontoon & Moorings Sales Manager

+44 (0) 1463 229446

Gael Force Group Ltd
136 Anderson Street
South Kessock