The latest in a string of violent storms has left a trail of navigational hazards around damaged coastal regions

Yachtsmen are being urged to stay vigilant after February’s extreme weather left behind a host of new hazards to navigation.

It comes after period of high winds combined with spring tides led to flooding and damage to many coastal areas around the UK and Channel Islands.

Across the Channel, a container ship sailing from Le Havre lost 14 containers overboard near Ushant. Elsewhere sandbanks and shingle spits were reshaped by the waves.

Hampshire Police has issued bomb warnings after eight unexploded shells washed up at Hurst Spit and one at Brook on the Isle of Wight.

Among warnings issued to mariners, Falmouth Harbour is advising of floating debris including large bulks of timber and tree trunks within the harbour area.

Mariners are also advised to ‘navigate with caution’ in Poole Bay after strong winds blew the large red East Looe No4 buoy out of the water and the Swash Channel No5 buoy out of position by approximately 100m to
the SSE.

The government’s new chief fire and rescue advisor, Peter Holland, described the emergency response to recent storms as the biggest since the Blitz during World War II.

Cruise ship passenger James Swinstead, 85, of Colchester, Essex, was killed when a huge wave crashed into the British ship Marco Polo on 14 February.

The Environment Agency issued 14 severe flood warnings last weekend for the River Thames, which reached its highest levels for more than 60 years in some places.

Sailing club ‘torn to shreds’

In Poole Harbour, East Dorset Sailing Club was ‘torn to shreds’ during the south-westerly storm and spring tide on 14 February. In addition to flooding, its pier was destroyed and everything in the yard was ‘scattered all over Sandbanks.’

Boats sank at Emsworth, while in the Hamble River high water was more than a metre higher than predicted.

PBO contributor John Frankland reports that considerable damage has also been suffered on Guernsey. High winds and a 10.2m high spring tide destroyed the access causeway to St Martin’s lighthouse on the island’s south-east corner, leaving it completely isolated.

The sea wall at Fermain Bay was breached, leaving a huge hole, while Castle Breakwater at St Peter Port was badly damaged. Railings were ripped away and there is undermining of the stonework underneath the lighthouse.

Harbour master Captain Chad Murray has indicated that it will be some time before the necessary repairs can be completed.

Several boats were blown from their winter hard standings, blocking access to the fish quay and the Guernsey Yacht Club.

On Alderney, the old wartime anti-tank wall at Longy Bay was breached.

Record-breaking wave height, the Irish meteorological service, reported a record wave height set for south of Cork: ‘Kinsale Energy Gas Platform recorded a maximum wave height of 25 metres on the afternoon of 12 February.

‘Apart from being a record at that location, it is also the highest maximum wave height recorded in Irish coastal waters (the previous record being 23.4 metres at the M4 buoy off the Northwest coast).’

Strong winds also blew the metal roof off Limerick Boat Club on O’Callaghan Strand in
Limerick. Watch the video.

Pictures: A yacht sunk at Emsworth; storm damage to East Dorset Sailing Club, lashing waves on the Isle of Wight – credit Isle of Wight Weather; Guernsey Harbour Master Chad Murray and Martyn Stansfield on St Peter Port’s badly damaged Castle Breakwate. Credit: John Frankland