Sometimes I visit Beer, the alluringly named Devon village where my sister lives. To adult eyes, Beer’s long, dramatic promenade offers fine opportunities for photos and bracing strolls.
Fortunately I have a three-year-old nephew to remind me that a promenade is actually a giant race track, an adventure playground, a stage for daredevil stunts and a chance to play chicken with larger kids on rollerskates…
There was once a sailor called Captain Nottage. He was an army office not a sea captain, but he loved racing yachts and held his professional crew in high regard. Like many racing skippers of the time he recruited smacksmen from the Essex coast, the Colne and Blackwater, as they had a well deserved reputation for seamanship and speed.
Something about the sea always makes me feel at home. But the other day, driving in the dark along an invisible east coast of Iceland, I did wonder if it was a bit crazy to have chosen come here at this time of year. Most visitors to East Iceland come in high summer when they can sightsee at any hour of the day or night. When the mountain passes close due to winter snowfalls, journey times double. The shorter routes across the highlands are first to go, and we were now having to zigzag around the East Fjords on the coast road. Actually quite fun, but it would have been better had we been able to see the landscape. At this time of year, of course, available light is distinctly limited.
But this morning, opening my curtains to see fresh fluffy snow right down to the harbour, I’ve no regrets. Another upside is, the local airport has become a fabulous place for a mid-winter walk. The long white runway brings you out to a black-sand beach that at this time of year is more white than black. This sign briefly makes me wonder if it’s safe to be here, and I feel much safer after meeting the local mayor who is going for a jog along the runway.
This last picture was taken by an Icelandic friend. Although standing next to me moments earlier, Skuli made sure to take a hike when he saw this coming. I missed the clue offered by his sudden departure, so was drenched in ICY salt water. Fortunately my camera and I survived. Recommended, in fact, but not if you catch cold easily.
One of the casualties of this winter’s storms is Pom-Pom rock – a sea stack that used to stand just to the east of Portland Bill. Read more…
The rusty shank of a mushroom mooring anchor reminds us how busy it is around here in other seasons.
It takes a real cold spell here, to freeze the harbor up shore to shore. Those days, when the sun is nothing more than a dirty snowball in the Southern sky, the wind whips across the flat, white expanse. It kicks up little, corniced snowdrifts at the edges, atop rocks and quay walls.
But February is almost here, and the winds will blow a few degrees warmer. When you stand perfectly still, you can hear the ice complaining as if it knows its time will soon be over. Coughs and ragged, grinding moans increase whenever a puff gives movement to the water beneath. Enough movement and cracks form, then re-freeze and reform until the breakup begins in earnest after a few days of temperatures higher than freezing. It’s a deceptively restless time.
Any day now, the rafts of Brant geese and Buffleheads will have more open water to warm up in. Already, along the western-most edges of the shoreline, the ice is giving way. A patchwork of shuffling ice floes heaves and falls at the transition and already a few courageous boats have plowed their way through. making paths in and out, to the open Bay beyond.
This dinghy has just broken free of the ice sheet.
This January was the first in many years that we’ve seen the harbor freeze over thicker than a light morning skin that’s gone by noon. In a few weeks, the harbor will clear completely, but this morning looking out over the ice, I recall stories from the winter of 1926, when the Bay froze thick enough that several Model T- era automobiles drove out to the lighthouse to race around it leaving big circular tire tracks in the snow. We won’t be seeing those this year. The water’s anxious to get back to its regular jobs of beating on the shoreline and carrying birds and boats wherever they choose to go.
Huntington, NY: February’s just around the corner.
from Kate Osborne, Touching the Tide Project Officer , Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
The archipelago of Malta is tiny. Even on the island of Malta itself, you are never more than about five miles from the sea.
Malta’s importance, however, has always outstripped its size. It has been a crucial stepping stone and stronghold in the Mediterranean, surrounded by tempting natural harbours and calm, shallow seas.
The past few weeks have seen our shores being battered by a succession of storms, sweeping in from the Atlantic, hammering winds and driving rain, lumping the sea into a huge swell to pound at our cliffs and beaches. Read more…
Photo by Elaine Brennan, by permission.
We set up our camper van on a blasted moor, back of Sennen, half a mile inland. Then the storm slams into us and doesn’t let up for a week. The van rocks on its suspension. Sometimes we wake in the dead of night, in glossy dark, the wind all roar and clatter like a train. The van pitches and rolls like it’s about to capsize. Read more…
The sea is a magical place as I am sure we will all agree, but sometimes that magic can be treacherous.
In 1983 we were caught in the middle of Typhoon Ellen just above the Philippines. The wind was so strong it ripped the air from my lungs. All you could see of the sea was a sea of white heaving mountains. We had a very rough night.
Seeing the blue eye of the Cyclone the next morning was reassuring, but we were lucky to have survived. The vessel was cracked all over and can you imagine a 162,000 tonne ship playing submarines? I still get the dreams!