Gateway to the Clyde
by David Milloy
We’re fortunate in Ayrshire to have a beautiful, ever-changing coastline that wends its way down the eastern side of the Firth of Clyde from Skelmorlie in the north to just before Cairnryan in the south. It’s a coast that benefits not only from the Gulf Stream that flows across the Atlantic Ocean but also from the protection offered by Arran and the Kintyre peninsula from the worst of the weather. And with scenic delights and interesting places just a short voyage away, it’s an ideal place to go boating.
That fact clearly wasn’t lost on Ayrshire County Council, who in the early 1970s explored the possibility of turning Troon Harbour’s inner basin into a publicly-owned marina. The Council’s plans came to nought but a consortium led by Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, emerged with plans of its own, and in 1978 Troon Marina came into being.
Its location gave it advantages that neither time nor tide eroded, sitting as it does at the gateway to the Firth of Clyde and thus offering boaters easy access not only to Arran and Kintyre but also to the likes of Cumbrae, Bute, Loch Fyne, and the upper part of the Firth of Clyde as well as to Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Indeed, even the Inner Hebrides and beyond are within reasonable range via the Crinan Canal. Moreover, it’s accessible at all states of the tide and is well protected from heavy seas by both the outer harbour and substantial breakwaters. Easy access to the marina from the land is also one of its key strengths, thanks to Troon’s excellent road and rail links and the presence of an international airport just a few miles away.
In 1994, Troon Marina was acquired by Yacht Havens, in whose ownership it has been both extended and revamped, resulting in it achieving significant national and international recognition, including The Yacht Harbour Association’s coveted 5 Gold Anchors Award, as well as being crowned Best UK Marina/Harbour in 2017 by Sailing Today magazine and finishing runner-up in the 2022 UK Marina of the Year Awards.
Troon Yacht Haven, as it’s now known, offers pontoon berths for 400 boats, ranging from small powerboats to large (up to about 35 metres in length) yachts. The berths are served by running water and mains electricity and free wi-fi is also provided. There’s ample onshore storage for boats and trailers, and diesel is available 24 hours a day from a dedicated fuel pontoon.
Other facilities on land include engineering and shipwright services, a restaurant, and The Salt Lodge, a ten apartment waterfront hotel which opened in 2020 as one of the products of a £1.4 million upgrade programme. Spacious toilet, shower, and laundry facilities are provided for berth holders as well as a dedicated lounge offering up-to-the-minute weather information.
A dozen people are directly employed by Troon Yacht Haven and it’s reckoned that a further 40 to 60 jobs at the marina are indirectly supported by it. And with visitors to the marina also frequenting Troon’s shops, restaurants and bars, it’s fair to say that it’s not only an excellent facility for boaters but also plays an important role in helping to sustain the local economy.