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‘Like a war zone’ - Storm sinks boats and batters harbour

PUBLISHED: 16:48 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 28 September 2020

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Dory capsized. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Dory capsized. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

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The wind and rain that battered Blakeney Harbour over the weekend has been described as “unprecedented” and left the area looking “like a war-zone”.

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Eos, partly below water. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour AssociationBoats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Eos, partly below water. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

And the damage could have been far worse if the storm had struck a week earlier during the high ‘spring’ tide, instead of during the low ‘neap’ tide of the past few days.

Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association’s environmental officer, said he had never seen anything like the damage caused by the storm, in which eight small boats - all pleasure craft moored at the harbour - sank.

“It started off with storm force winds on Friday and it only dropped to a near gale yesterday,” Mr Thompson said.

“It was all from the north and that put so much pressure on the boats. The tide didn’t go out at all so everything in the harbour was getting absolutely hammered.”

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Eos under water. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour AssociationBoats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Eos under water. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

Mr Thompson said about 15 boats - the largest a 22ft yacht - broke free of their moorings, leading to some of them sinking.

“It wasn’t just the wind but the sheer amount of rain that we had on Friday that was putting extra pressure on the moorings and the direct wave action finished them off.

“It was unprecedented - I’ve never seen that amount of boats come to harm. There were broken spars and flogged sails.”

Mr Thompson said all of the sunken boats had since been pumped out and refloated as part of an “amazing” volunteer-led recovery effort. He said plumber and association volunteer Guy Matthews as well as Jamie Greengrass and Ken Dickerson were among the volunteers.

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the dismasted vessel Norfolk Gypsy with a broken bowsprit, possibly been hit by an adrift boat. The vessel Eos in the background. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour AssociationBoats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the dismasted vessel Norfolk Gypsy with a broken bowsprit, possibly been hit by an adrift boat. The vessel Eos in the background. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

“Apart from the boats on the marsh the harbour is looking pretty good. It looked like a war zone on Friday and Saturday - we thought it was going to take weeks to sort it out. “But the hard work of the volunteers has been absolutely amazing.”

Mr Thompson said people from the association, local boat yards as well as others from the community had all pitched in.

He said the area would have faced far worse flooding if the storm came during the higher spring tide.

Mr Thompson said the challenge now was reuniting the boat owners with various pieces of equipment which floated way from their vessels during the storm, and was still being found across the marsh.

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows damage to the stem of a boat caused by a loose mooring strop. How can a soft piece of polyester do this much damage? Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour AssociationBoats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows damage to the stem of a boat caused by a loose mooring strop. How can a soft piece of polyester do this much damage? Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association

Mr Thompson said: “There’s a lot floating around. We’ve asked people if they find anything, to photograph it, and message the harbour association so we can try and reunite it with its rightful owners.

The association’s email is info@blakeneyharbourassociation.co.uk.

Boats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Dory after she was righted.  The boat has a 75hp outboard motor. The sea bed had demolished everything above the gunwale after the boat spent two tides upside down. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour AssociationBoats suffered damage in Blakeney Harbour during heavy wind and rains over the September 26-27 weekend. Photo shows the vessel Dory after she was righted. The boat has a 75hp outboard motor. The sea bed had demolished everything above the gunwale after the boat spent two tides upside down. Picture: Neil Thompson, Blakeney Harbour Association


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