Sunday, 9 February 2014

Tempête.


We’ve been watching the pictures on the news this week as the storms pound Europe.  The shipping forecast even at one point used the word ‘phenomenal’ as a sea state, a rarely seen occurrence denoting waves over 12m.

The jetty/second breakwater, shut off and covered in seaweed.
 
Amongst other places affected are Topsham, Chesil Beach, St Evette, Santander, Gijon, Zumaia, Bayonne, Hendaye, the Gironde, Morlaix and the Somerset levels – the names read like a litany of beautiful places, scarred by the power of nature. Seeing places we have stayed and are fond of shattered by the weather has been a strange experience, all the crew feel very deeply for those affected.

Pictures torn off the side of the building by the wind.
 
We are relatively sheltered here behind a goulet and two breakwaters. Even so we have had the wind and waves causing chaos through the marina. The skipper managed to scare up a posse one evening to help him with an abandoned racing yacht. It was already at a 90º angle to the pontoon and the chances of it breaking away completely and 60 foot of carbon fibre wreaking havoc was quite real. After a ¾ hour battle with the wind and boat in the dark they managed to secure it safely back against the pontoon.
 
60 foot of boat seized by the court and awaiting its fate.

On one of the worst days whilst the deckhands were being seasick inside, the skipper was outside in the wind and rain fending us off of the pontoon. The flexing of the boat was too much for our kitchen table top, which we had hoped would wait until we returned to England to sort out as it needed replacing. With a very loud bang it snapped at the weakest point and started swinging with the two ends like shards of bone moving against each other. A few other minor things moved and bumped, a couple of our hatch covers took off and we added several new bruises and aches to our collections. With the waves breaking over the second breakwater at high tide and the terrific hail storms, leaving the boat has been quite a challenge at times.

The drain is usually attached to the bottom of the sink...
 
The marina staff have been kept busy checking boats and replacing ropes and fenders. One heavy boat broke the finger pontoon she was moored to. The snapping of a rope holding the back of a large boat behind us sent the German registered vessel bucking around completely out of control. As people ran to help her, she took out the electricity post and damaged her topsides. A walk once the tide had dropped showed various bits of damage around the area too - pictures ripped off walls, windows broken, trees down and other bits of damage.  

Poor Pinocchio showing her scars and the damaged electricity
post - it still lights up at night.
 

For us there is a lull in the stormy weather, time to sort ourselves out. For those who have had their homes and livelihoods devastated, the nightmare goes on.

 
Debris and fenders left behind by the storms trapped under the jetty.


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