Isle of Wight village mobilizes to save canoes from storm Francis

AN ISLAND in the village of Wight joined together to save 90 sailboats from Storm Francis yesterday.

The annual Seaview Village Regatta may have had to be canceled due to the risks posed by Covid-19, but the community spirit of the village was still present when everyone gathered in the harsh weather conditions.

About ten iconic Seaview One Design dinghies with clinker hulls had already capsized on the moorings of the Sea View Yacht Club when the decision was taken at 5.30 p.m. to bring the fleet ashore.

Some of the capsized canoes had been dismasted and there were concerns that others could be damaged if urgent action was not taken.

As a request for help spread across local WhatsApp groups, volunteers rushed to the waterfront to help.

Around 70 people helped, many of whom worked in waist-deep water, with yacht club officials making sure the teams worked within their family social bubbles and were properly socially distanced.

Within an hour, more than 70 boats had been brought ashore.

The surrounding families have opened their gardens to be stored there overnight.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“It was a very strong westerly wind, unheard of for many decades and we were concerned for the safety of the SVOD fleet,” said John Edwards, Commodore.

“It was exceptionally good to see how quickly the club members arrived to help bring the boats to land under such delicate circumstances.”

Caroline Simmonds, class captain, said: “Taking 90 boats out of the water was not undertaken lightly, but when it became clear that they were no longer safe on the water, the members of the club gathered in the most amazing way with ribs, scoops from the teams, wagon shooters and several people in the water to grab the boats as they arrived.

“It was a very difficult 30 minutes when the boats suddenly started to capsize and they were passing faster than we could recover. Particular challenges included a semi-submerged dinghy drifting out to sea that we could not hold upright.

“Eventually we managed to tie it between two ribs to stabilize it and were able to slowly and slowly come back to shore.

“Another moment of anxiety was when one of the boats overturned, having already been righted once, leaving the teenager who had jumped into the water.

“Special thanks go to the staff at Warrens and the Club boatmen, for working tirelessly to help save the boats, as well as to the more than 70 club members who have come to help.

Isle of Wight County Press:

All photos by Jessica Dobbs.

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