Saturday, 24 July 2010

A great day out.

Hello and welcome to my blog. Nice to see you again.

It's been another glorious week down here and it got off to a cracking start last Sunday with Shoreham Port's Open Day.

Over 15,000 people attended, (up 5,000 on the previous one), and we were treated to a display of vessels, stands, exhibits, and entertainments.

Whilst we mooched along the quayside admiring the view, we learnt that the Port handles around 2 million tons of cargo a year, and employs 1,400 people at Shoreham itself with another 10,000 within a 50 mile radius.

Just in case you didn't make it, here's a small sample of what was there.

HMS Shoreham, a Sandown Class Single Role Minehunter.

She was launched in April 2001, commissioned in September 2002 and is claimed to be "..the world's most capable and sophisticated minehunter."

She's built almost entirely from non-magnetic materials and has a speed of 13 knots (diesel) or 6.5 knots (electronic drive).

She was one of only 22 100 - Class High Speed launches used by the RAF to rescue airmen ditched in the sea during World War II. This boat alone saved 38 airmen during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Apparently she was also one of the Shoreham Houseboats but nowadays she can be chartered for a variety of purposes such as corporate events, weddings and day trips.

Peter Emery, dressed as a member of the Air Sea Rescue Service RAF, on board HSL 102.

These are used to transport the Port's Pilot to ships wishing to enter the Harbour. Once on board, the Pilot uses his local knowledge to guide the vessel safely to the quayside, whilst the Pilot Boat stands by to collect him when it's docked.

Keith Laker, coxswain of the Pilot Boat, explained that Shoreham was a tricky harbour to negotiate as it has a small entrance which quickly divides into two channels. As one leads up a tidal river and the other to a lock, an in-coming vessel has little room for manoeuvre.

The All Weather Lifeboat, Fisheries Protection Vessel, and Moonlight Saunter were some of the other boats on display and there were boat trips up and down the canal. If you didn't manage to get there this year, do make the effort next year because it's well worth it.

I've decided to take this summer off so this will be the last blog until 10th September. I'll be back then with a line-up of new interviewees and issues to discuss. So have a great summer wherever you are, and I look forward to meeting again in early Autumn.


Friday, 16 July 2010

Shoreham Port Open Day

Hello and welcome to my blog. Nice to see you again and I hope you've had a good week.

It's been glorious for weeks on our shingle spit but now the wind's picked, up the kite-surfers are back and seem to be having a wail of a time.

Talking of wind, did you know that one of the consequences of the prevailing south-westerly wind profoundly affected the fortunes of the port and town for centuries?

Shoreham has long been a notable port, yet until relatively recently, struggled with the effects of longshore drift. Basically longshore drift occurs where waves hit the shore at an angle, (due to the prevailing wind), moving beach material up and along the beach in a zig-zag pattern. Where there's a break in the coastline, for instance at a river mouth, the waves deposit the material, forming ridge or islands which can develop into a Spit. The actual size and shape of the Spit will be determined by nature and can change dramatically over time. In our case, the waves moved the beach material eastward until it reached the mouth of the River Adur, and dumped it there. This created an obstacle at the river mouth, forcing the Adur to change direction and find another exit to the sea.

This effected Shoreham Port in two ways; the Harbour entrance moved with the river mouth and shingle deposits were created around its' approaches. Indeed in 1698, when shipbuilding was Shorehams' main industry, the Navy Board commented, "whether you go in or out, you meet with great difficulties and hazard." Five years later, this problem was exacerbated by two major storms, the debris from which choked the Harbour. Subsequently a new Harbour entrance was cut through at New Shoreham in 1703. Unfortunately, the natural process of longshore drift continued unchecked, so fifty years later that entrance had moved almost 4 miles east.

This situation caused local merchants enough concern to petition Parliament, and in 1760 an Act was passed to construct a new Harbour entrance protected by piers. Sadly, due to inadequate workmanship, the piers were undermined during a storm. Hence, the Harbour entrance began to creep eastward again and by 1815, was 1.5 miles east of its' 1760 position. Thus in 1816, a further Act of Parliament was passed declaring that the entrance should be re-built. Work commenced on a position immediately south of Kingston Church, and the new Harbour entrance was opened five years later. It's remained there ever since and Shoreham is now a busy and vibrant commercial port and England's number one port for scallop landings.

This Sunday, 18th July, Shoreham Port has an open day to celebrate 250 years as "part of the local community." Co-incidentally, it's also 250 years since the passing of the 1760 Act.

The event starts at 10am, ends at 4pm and includes:

an air-sea rescue demonstration,
catamaran trips along the canal,
nautical and diving displays,
live entertainment,
display of various ships, such as the steamship Shieldhall and RN Mine
Countermeasures Vessel,
exhibition shed,
and children's activities.

All proceeds from car-parking charges and programmes will go to selected local charities.

I regularly hear the sound of ships horns in the garden, so I'm looking forward to taking a closer look at the port. I hope you can join us, but if you can't, I'll show you what you missed next week.

Have a great weekend and see you next week. Ta-ra.

Friday, 9 July 2010

"Tombstoning = natural selection at work."

Hello and welcome to my blog. It's nice to see you again and I hope you've time to relax in this lovely weather.

I'm sorry I didn't publish last week, I was at a funeral. Ironic really as the proposed subject was, and is, Tombstoning.

If you haven't heard of it before, tombstoning is, "the practice of jumping into the sea or similar body of water from a cliff or other high point such that the jumper enters the water vertically, like a tombstone." Jumpers risk death or paralysis. Some get away with it. Tragically others do not like, Sonny Wells, Sam Boyd, Jamie Sutton, Dean Mason, and the 14 year old who recently jumped off Shoreham's Eastern Harbour Arm sustaining two broken ankles and a compressed spine.

The RNLI accept that some people can't resist the temptation, (or peer pressure), to tombstone so have issued guidance on risk reduction. The Student Room, a internet forum for students, is less charitable and I owe the blog title to Charlisquigs's entry. Amusing but, ouch, particularly when some of our locals go a step further.

I'm talking about the people that tombstone off the Eastern or Western Harbour Arms, and then swim across to the other side. "It's suicidal," says Barrie Turner, NCI Station Manager and his reasoning is chilling.

1.  Once in the water, swimmers look just like flotsam. Boats don't often sail around flotsam; they sail over it. If a skipper realises that what's ahead of him is not flotsam but a swimmer, he may take evasive action by slamming the engine into reverse. Sadly that may suck the swimmer into the engine's propellers. Enough said. 

2.  The distance between the Harbour Arms is deceptive. Swimmers cannot swim straight across the Harbour mouth due to a combination of tidal and river water flowing in and out. They are therefore forced to swim in a horse-shoe shape, increasing the distance they have to cover, exhausting them, and leaving them exposed for longer. Thus, in reality a quick fun dash across the harbour mouth is really a long, slow, dangerous slog. 

3.  On average a swimmer swims at 2 knots. Commercial vessels travel at 6 knots. They may look slow on the horizon, but certainly not close up.  Jet-skis can travel at 60 knots. In short, a swimmer is too slow to swim out of the way of either.

4.  If a swimmer reaches the other side safely, they either have to swim back, or face a 3 mile walk to collect their stuff.  

If tombstoning alone is natural selection at work, what is tombstoning plus a swim across a busy commercial shipping lane? Barrie's right, it's suicidal. 

At last week's funeral, I was reminded that life is very precious and very precarious. No-one should throw it away, just for a laugh.

Next week, I'll be talking about Shoreham Port's forthcoming open day on Sunday 18th July. In the meantime have a glorious week.