I fell asleep last night with the voice of the BBC weatherman telling me that south and west Wales were experiencing strong winds with gusts of up to 80mph, with many households losing electricity thanks to trees taking out the power lines. Next morning, just as I was about to embark on my Happy Sunday Morning Toast, the phone rang. It was someone from the Harbour committee. When the harbour committee phone you after a night of strong winds you tend to assume the worst! We’d only recently moved our boat from its summer home on the local beach over to the shelter of the harbour for the winter. A couple of the old-timers warned us that even the very sheltered beach in the harbour occasionally experienced a combination of wind and tide that led to extensive damage to boats left there. They talked in terms of every 20 years or so, and we sort of shrugged it off. Well, a warning shot has been fired across our bows, so to speak!
Happily for us, the only thing that had happened was that the dinghy had floated free of the trailer. We checked, there was no damage at all to the hull, and we quickly had her lifted back into place and firmly tied down. Something we should have done before, but we thought we had time – this area very very rarely sees water come all the way up to the top of the beach.
The boat cover has a small tear in it that we will need to repair, but otherwise we got off very lightly. The guy from the harbour committee who popped over to check that we were OK and didn’t need any help pointed at a boat further along:
Not the small half-drowned dinghy, though that is a bit of a nightmare for whoever owns her. The larger yellow boat. It isn’t meant to be on the beach, you see. She has a mooring in the middle of the harbour. Some small, unnoticed fault in the mooring line meant that the strain of the storm force winds and big waves that set the harbour waters boiling last night snapped her free of her mooring and dumped her, unceremoniously, on the beach. Our friend from the harbour committee and a couple of other men well used to boats and storms etc. were down at the harbour at gone 10pm last night doing their best to limit the damage and warn boat owners. They rescued the large and expensive outboard from the back of this boat – I dread to think what that must have been like, in the relative dark (the harbour does have some flood lights), with the sea boiling up around them. We were told they hadn’t seen it that bad since 1991!
I think we get used to the relative calm provided by the protection of the main harbour wall and the associated breakwater.
You can see in the photo above how smooth the harbour waters are compared to the more open area on the big beach.
The ’91 storms led to the whole wall around the big beach being rebuilt, to offer more protection to the land and properties behind it. We were down there this morning, not long after high tide, and the waves were still breaking over the wall occasionally.
The gap in the wall you can see in that last photo is one of many that puncture the protection around the beach, all of which get boarded up during the winter months bar this first one. Walking back home I could see the sand and seaweed dumped on the pavement by the wall that divides the road from Little Beach, the beach that lies at the foot of our road, that we can see from our house and front garden. All in all a very timely reminder of the power of the sea, and what happens when storms arrive from exactly the wrong direction, combining with high Spring tides. The coast of Anglesey is littered with the wrecks of boats, large and small, that have foundered on these shores over the past few centuries. I hope this is as bad as it gets for us. A boat tumbled from its trailer and, on returning home, the discovery that I have yet more fencing to do.
The fence that partially conceals our oil tank has finally collapsed. No damage, and an opportunity to construct something sturdier, and higher. Something that will accommodate a couple of climbers. An opportunity.