A 23-foot sailing yacht was beached and broken up by the Force 7 north-easterly gales which pounded the Wicklow coastline on Tuesday.
And in the late afternoon, and running into the evening, a rescue operation had to be mounted for a number of other craft which looked to be in danger of suffereing the same fate.
Which proves, according to the consortium behind the Wicklow River Moorings proposals, that there is a need for a pontoon for pleasure craft in the town.
The boat, which was worth £6,000, belonged to Fred Rountree, of Newcastle, and his brother, Alan, from Ashford, who said that Tuesday’s events illustrated the sort of dangers faced by sailors in Wicklow.
‘Boats were told they had to get out of the river, because there were ships coming into it, but there was a north-easterly gale forecast, and the boats had nowhere to go,’ said Alan, who is one of the Wicklow River Moorings consortium, whose proposal to provide a pontoon was rejected by the Wicklow Harbour Commissioners.
Fred Rountree’s and a number of other boats had been brought out and anchored on moorings, in order to allow three commercial ships gain entry to the port.
After his boat was wrecked, a number of people had to take to the sea to try and tow the other craft to shelter.
But shelter is a rare commodity when commercial ships need to berth at Wicklow, according to Alan, who said that the situation is exacerbeted when the winds are coming from the north-east, which they have been doing with great frequency so far this summer.
‘ The boats are safe if the winds are coming from anywhere but the north-east,’ said Alan.
Two of the commercial ships were admitted to the port on Tuesday, and a third remained anchored at sea to await admission at 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Wicklow River Moorings’ proposal was to provide a pontoon which would provide berthing space for 20 craft.
‘We were trying to use a bit of space at the bridge where there’s nothing. We wanted it to cater for eventualities such as this, where boats could get out of the way,’ he said.
Some of the boats endangered by Tuesday’s storm were towed to the east pier, but Alan indicated that there was no guarantee they would be safe at that location. A crane was used to lift Fred Rowntree’s wrecked boat off the beach.
He added that those who went out to rescue the endangered craft on the stormy seas had been in danger of losing their lives.