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Dartmouth and south Devon, battered by storms and spring tides

DARTMOUTH has been left battered and bruised from the high tides and gale force winds.
Due to the recurring high spring tides, and the full force winds that have been reaching a maximum gust of 75mph, the town has been a victim of the weather this week.
On Wednesday the Harbour Authority closed the river to all commercial traffic and both the higher and lower ferries were out of action due to the conditions, causing delays to many people’s journeys.
High tide was at 9.52am on Wednesday morning, with tides reaching around 4.7m.
Rob Giles, Dart harbour master said: ‘On Tuesday night we took the decision to suspend both the higher and lower ferry services due to the extreme weather conditions.
‘There was 63mph gusts on the river from a South Easterly direction, which is particularly hazardous direction for the River Dart.
‘There was no ferry route available for the public, so we let the public shelter in the harbour office, while they made phone calls and arranged alternative transport.
‘That remained in place all through the night and at 8.30am on Wednesday morning the passenger ferry was suspended as well.
‘Overnight on Tuesday one or two boats suffered minor damage and a couple of boats nearly came adrift from their moorings, but my staff went out and secured them. My team are keeping an eye out for any excessive wear on the moorings and are keeping in contact with boat owners and agents.’
‘We are in a spate of weather when the high tide compounds by storm systems coming from the Atlantic.
‘The tides are magnified by the weather conditions and are made worse by the direction of the wind. ‘These have been the worst tides in the last few months.’
Wednesday was the second time in six weeks that the harbour team have worked hard to ensure that moorings were secure, but Capt Giles was forced to call his staff off the river during the day as the gales peaked at force 11.
‘It was an evolving situation and the team, led by my deputy, Nick Clarance, did really well,’ he added. ‘We responded to reports of incidents and tried to secure as many boats as we could.
‘However, I had no alternative but to call my staff off the river on a number of occasions, for their own safety. I will not put river staff at unnecessary risk. We try to provide a comprehensive service, but when things get as rough as that, it is very unwise to be out on the river.
‘As always we keep the dialogue open with the various ferry services up and down the river and I think the decision we took together to stop services on Tuesday night was the right one.
‘We continue to remind all berth holders it is their responsibility to check their vessels before and after stormy weather – following this series of horrendous storms I am pleased to report that there are fewer and fewer instances of vessels coming adrift. Keep it up!’
Bayards Cove was the worst hit in the town, with the water coming over the wall and strewing debris and benches along the harbour side.
Miciek Sularz from Bayards Cove Inn said they avoided the worst of the damage. ‘We were actually quite lucky,’ he said. ‘There was nothing major, just a little bit of water coming in. A few signs fell off, some that were quite massive, one meter long.’
At nearby Torcross, nine people had to be evacuated from four properties in Torcross.
The operation was carried out by the Coastguard and the police, as huge waves combined with Tuesday night’s high tide threw shingle and water against seafront properties, smashing windows and flooding houses.
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: ‘Dartmouth Coastguard and Prawle Point Coastguard rescue team, in conjunction with the police, checked properties to make sure the residents were safe.’
Gail Stubbs, from the Start Bay Inn was called down to the pub, on the seafront at Torcross, around 9pm on Tuesday night.
She said: ‘The sea was coming in down the alley between us and the Boathouse and started to come into the building. We were sweeping the water through the kitchen and out the other side between about 9.30pm and midnight, then we got the shutters and sandbags in place.

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