Sailors in southern England caught out by Storm Katie
Dozens of yachts were damaged by Storm Katie over the Easter weekend. Winds of 73 knots were recorded on Portland Bill and there were reports of gusts of 91 knots on the Isle of Wight. Boats moored on the south coast, the Bristol Channel and in Essex bore the brunt of the latest winter storm to hit the UK.
The storm reached its climax in the early hours of Easter Monday (28 April). Garry Nicholson, weather forecaster at Weatherweb.net, explained:
‘Storm Katie wasn’t an exceptional storm, but she took quite a southerly track for the time of year. There was a period of particularly strong gusts in the early hours of Easter Monday between Portland Bill and Portsmouth. Isobars were compacted and hooked in behind the low, concentrating the wind for a short period.’
At least 20 boats to come loose from their moorings, mostly in and around the Solent. Harbours affected included Cowes, Beaulieu, Portsmouth, Langstone, and Chichester, as well as Southend-on-Sea in Essex. Two boats laid up ashore were also blown over at Watchet Harbour in Somerset and one yacht, at sea during the storm, ran aground in Oxwich Bay on the Gower.
Beaulieu harbourmaster Wendy Stowe described what happened:
‘It was high tide when the wind struck,’ she said. ‘These were the worst conditions in Beaulieu since 1987. Four boats came off their moorings, most from just below the marina, when their mooring strops chafed through.’
Boats in Portsmouth Harbour also suffered chafed lines. Chrissie Capel, business development manager at Boatshed.com, discovered four boats aground near Port Solent:
‘There were three sailing boats and a motorboat, which was totally wrecked, but the yachts were less damaged. They still had fore-and-aft mooring lines attached.’
Yachts moored at Hayling Island were also hit. Retired army officer Bob Raley helped save a Bavaria 34 aground on Thorney Island.
‘When I found the yacht, her pulpit, bow roller and stanchions were broken and the bow cleat was torn away,’ he said. ‘The headsail had unfurled and shredded, putting considerable strain on the mast, so we helped to take it down. There were reports that six yachts had come adrift and one had sunk,’ he said.
Some harbours in the area managed to escape damage. Malcolm Thorpe, owner of Bembridge Harbour, said: ‘We received storm warnings two or three days before Storm Katie arrived. The harbour staff team were on hand during the storm, making sure nothing came loose.’
Other parts of the country were also affected. In Watchet Harbour in Somerset two yachts on the hard standing were knocked over. One of them had been covered with a tarpaulin by the owner, which acted as a sail, blowing her over and knocking over the yacht next to her.
Tim Taylor, owner of Watchet Harbour, said: ‘This was the worst storm of the winter and the only one in which there has been any damage. The wind went from 20 knots to over 50 knots in seconds, so it was pretty exceptional, and unusually the wind was from the west, rather than the south-west.’
At the same time, a yacht made a Mayday call after she was caught out in winds of 40 knots off the Gower and hit a submerged object before running aground in Oxwich Bay, and sailors in Solent reported being hit by gusts of 55 knots.
‘This was the worst storm of the winter’
A flogging headsail nearly cost this yacht its mast, aground on Thorney Island
Yachts ran aground in Portchester after their mooring lines parted