As with much of the southern part of the UK, storm force winds rattled through the islands during January causing damage to sea defences particularly along Guernsey’s North West coastline, writes John Frankland.

The island was completely cut off for three days since all ferry services were cancelled due to the heavy seas and the airport came to a standstill with the strong NW crosswinds.

The marinas at Beaucette, St Sampson and the three in St Peter Port were largely unscathed since they are all protected from the prevailing westerly winds.

Small power boat wrecked at Le Picquerel. Credit: Peter Frankland

Small power boat wrecked at Le Picquerel. Credit: Peter Frankland

There are several small bays on the NW coast which, in the summer, are havens for both leisure boats and fishing boats. Most local boatowners using that area know to move their craft well before the end of year gales start – insurance companies normally insist on this anyway.

If boats are left in these open anchorages, there is a great danger of them breaking from their moorings in even moderate to strong winds before being swept on to the lee shore. At least one such boat was blown on to Le Picquerel beach (in the SW of Grande Havre) where it stood little chance of being saved and soon became a total wreck.

The main part of the bay of Grande Havre fared somewhat better where just a few larger boats remained tucked under the north headland giving some shelter from the NW.

During the summer season, the west side of Guernsey remains a mystery for most visiting yachts due to the big tidal range, extremely rocky approaches and the prevailing west winds.

Most pilot information suggests that vessels should keep at least 3 miles offshore, however, with reasonable weather and careful inshore pilotage, several anchorages are available, all with crystal clear water and, with the exception of the odd Kayak passing by, completely quiet and secluded.

Only occasionally, a visiting yacht (often French) is seen anchored over a low spring tide in Grande Havre, Cobo or Rocquaine Bay. However, with even moderate westerly winds, it is best to keep well clear!

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