Last weekend we saw some of the stormiest conditions experienced at sea in a number of years, some media outlets have described the situation as the worst storm to hit the South East of the United Kingdom since the Great Storm of 1987.
A deep depression crossing the Atlantic brought hurricane force winds to much of the Southern coast of the United Kingdom with the strongest official gust recorded at 99 mph on the Isle of Wight. Here in Dover the winds started to build on Sunday 27th October with a force 9 gale and heavy seas. After a brief rest bite through the night of the 27th October the wind again built in strength and was gusting up to a force 12 by 05:00 local time on Monday 28th October.
Although the Port of Dover remained open during the night of the 27th October many ships opted not to enter the port due to the severe conditions. The Dieppe Seaways departed the port in ballast (empty) and proceeded to the Downs (just to the North of the Port of Dover) to ride out the storm. The Spirit of France was on approach to Dover with less than a mile to run when she was buffeted by winds of up to 80 knots resulting in her aborting her entry. She also headed to the downs where she was joined by the Pride of Canterbury, Dover Seaways and the Delft Seaways.
The Port of Dover officially closed to all shipping movements at 06:00 and eventually reopened at 09:30 when the worst of the winds had passed. The Spirit of France was the first vessel to enter the port and was shortly followed by the Pride of Canterbury and the Dover Seaways.
The eastern docks ferry terminal faired relatively well during the storm with only minor damage reported to some metal cladding and some minor damage to pads and fenders on the berths. Unfortunately the Western Docks didn’t fair as well due to the heavy seas crashing over the Admiralty pier which resulted in some structural damage to the pier itself and damage to over 50 passenger vehicles parked at the cruise terminal.
It amazed me that after the winds had dropped what a beautiful sunny day it was, it was hard to believe that just a few hours earlier it had been heavy rain and hurricane force winds.
I headed out on both the 27th and 28th of October to try and capture some images of the weather conditions and I even managed to get some video of the both the seas and a couple of ferry arrivals. Now I admit I am not a news camera man, I am a photographer and the quality of my filming is no way near the quality of many a video uploaded to YouTube but I hope it captures some of the energy of this weather event. Trying to film and photograph isn’t an easy task at the best of times especially when you factor in the effects of the wind rocking the tripod around, this video is quiet jerky in places and for that I apologise. The videos of the Ferry arrivals are at 4x speed in an effort to shorten the duration of the video and to show how much the vessels were moving around on approach to the Port of Dover. Its best to watch the video in HD.
Having experienced the effects of the wind from land I take my hats off to the ferry crews, the Port of Dover marine department crews on the tugs and all the passengers who were stuck out at sea, it must have been a difficult night for them all with the prevailing weather conditions. As much as I would have liked to have been out there I am glad that I was on dry land.
To all DFDS Group employees please look out for a selection of my photos depicting the arrivals of the Dover Seaways and Dieppe Seaways in your staff newsletter. I would also just like to say a big thank you to my sister for joining me over the two days. We rarely get to spend any time together and despite the weather it was really good to catch up.
Sunday 28th October
Waves battering the promenade in Dover ahead of the storm
Sea spray – thanks to a zoom lens I wasn’t as close as it looks!
The Pride of Burgundy heads out into a choppy English channel
Dieppe Seaways heads for Calais
Dover Seaways entering the Port of Dover
Dover Seaways `making fast’ the tug DHB Dauntless
Monday 28th October
An empty Port of Dover
With the port being closed we headed to Shakespeare Beach just to the West of the port to witness the wild seas
Shakespeare Beach looking out towards Folkestone
Looking out towards Samphire Hoe and Folkestone
An onlooker on Shakespeare Beach surveying the rough seas
Having been on Shakespeare beach I missed the arrival of the Spirit of France but here she is safely in the harbour going astern to berth 9
The second vessel to enter was the Pride of Canterbury
Even though the wind had dropped significantly the seas hadn’t, here the Pride of Canterbury takes a wave on her port bow at the ports entrance
The Pride of Canterbury safely through the entrance awaiting the assistance of the DHB Doughty
With the Spirit of France acting as a wind break on berth 9 the Pride of Canterbury makes her way astern for berth 8
As well as the Port being closed it would appear that all flights were cancelled as well 🙂
The Dover Seaways approaching the ports Eastern entrance
The Dover Seaways takes a wave off her bow as the Dieppe Seaways awaits entry to the port
The Dover Seaways approaching the Eastern entrance
Home at last
After a quick turnaround the Spirit of France heads back to Calais
The Spirit of France departing the port
The Dieppe Seaways approaching the Port
Having spent the night off the port the Dieppe Seaways finally enters the port of Dover
The Dieppe Seaways in the bay as the Dovorian makes a routine patrol around the port
Two `D’s together, Dover Seaways outbound with the Delft Seaways inbound
All photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 550D and a Panasonic Lumix FZ100.
All Photographs on this page are the © Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos) 2013, All rights reserved.
I would like to remind you that the photos on this page may not be used without prior permission. If you require high resolution non water marked copies of any my photos for your own private collection or for publication please free to get in contact via email to discuss your requirements.