Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Port Closes - Pleasure boats wrecked in storm

Gale force winds and heavy rain combined with a strong swell caused damage to some 20 small boats and kept the Port, Fire Brigade and Royal Gibraltar Police emergency services busy on Monday night well into yesterday afternoon. Over 40 calls were received in 24 hours related to the storm.

The Port closed – which meant that it was focused on emergencies and normal trading stopped. The officers were kept busy and yesterday afternoon assisted a vessel that had engine problems in the Bay.

The runway had jetsam heaped onto it as the pontoons at Western Beach took a pounding with many of the pleasure boats tied up there and awaiting a move by MoD just weeks away which would allow them a safer haven. One small cruise boat was washed ashore on Western Beach itself its hull smashed.

William Snailham of the boat owners association expressed the anxiety of those who had lost the vessels and pointed to the dilly-dallying of the MoD as a major cause of the delay to their move. He pointed to the fact that a previous Government had moved them out from the protection of the Queensway Quay area when that was developed and they had long objected that Western Beach was too exposed and subject to heavy swells.

Another issue is the inadequacy of the breakwater. "We have always said we were exposed and unprotected here. We just hope the spring comes with better weather,” said Mr Snailham now keen to move.

The Met Office said that Sunday 27 February 2005 broke the record for the highest daily rainfall in February since records began in 1947 with 127.8mm. The previous high was recorded on the 19 February 1980 where 119.0mm fell. Monday 28 February 2005 fell short of the previous record with 113.8mm of rain recorded. The highest ever, monthly rainfall for February has been 351.4mm and this was recorded in February 1969. The total rainfall recorded over the last 48hrs represents nearly 3 times the monthly average.

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