Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What's the difference

I'm often asked by people I meet what the difference is between a port, harbour and a jetty, a pier and a quay, etc. I'll attempt to give my own explanations, though I doubt if these would be substantiated by the Oxford English Dictionary.

A 'port' needs to be a location where an active commercial or fishing operation takes place; it also has to be a reasonable size. Felixstowe and Newlyn are good examples of each. There are a lot of places with 'Port' in the name, but that doesn't necessarily qualify it as a port, in my book. Port Isaac in Cornwall, for example, can only qualify as a 'harbour'.

A 'harbour' is a location where there's an enclosed or semi-enclosed area where boats can moor or berth. There is usually a jetty, often curved or angled, to enclose the harbour area.

A 'jetty' is a solid construction, usually of concrete or blocks, which juts out from the foreshore. It is usually wide enough for vehicles to use it.

A 'pier' is usually of wooden construction, enabling water to pass below and through it.

A 'quay' is a straight section of either concrete or wooden construction, which vessels can berth alongside. A port may have a number of different quays.

Some ferry terminals are wide slipways, with no jetty. These are included on my Ports and Harbours website; slipways that are not ferry terminals are not included.

Hope that's all clear now. No arguments please; they are my definitions and I'm sticking to them.

Oh, today. Yes, a fairly straightforward day. It rained until 08.30, so it was a late start. But as I had missed out the 12 or so busy miles from Fort William along the A82, I wasn't concerned about time. The first section was the scenic route to Kinlochleven alongside Loch Leven, and back along the other side. This 20-mile loop was well worth the effort, although sadly the sun didn't oblige.

The rest of the day involved getting to Port Appin, where a passenger ferry will take me across to the island of Lismore tomorrow. I'm wild camping at the end of the track near Port Appin, a delightful spot when it's not raining (as it keeps doing). This photo shows where I've pinched my tent.

So far no midges, but I bet they'll be plentiful in the morning. They don't get in the tent, as I'm in a sealed area, but tend to bother me while I'm making and eating my breakfast. I have to walk round in a large circle, carrying my bowl of porridge.

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