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Easterly winds used to last much longer

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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LAST week, secure in the shelter of home, my eyes watched angry waves crashing against Roundham Head. While not as frightening as America's Hurricane Sandy, it felt like an invasion of Torbay's tranquillity.

Twenty years ago, with disruption to normal maritime business, that scenario would have caused anger to pulse through the ol' sailor's blood.

Today, perhaps because of a combination of maturity and retirement, well, it just seems like nature's kick against the sheltered protection this Devon harbour offers to shipping.

Anyway, after two days the wind swung around, the sea lost its anger and all was well with the world.

I don't always agree with scientific experts rabbiting on about climate change but 20-30 years ago such an easterly blow would have lasted at least a week.

Thinking back, there was one occasion when I was pleased to experience an extended easterly blow.

After loading fertiliser in Antwerp for Galway on the west coast of Ireland, because of on-going commitments, we were pressed for time and as that particular passage, in decent weather, takes three days, I prayed for a fair wind.

After dropping the pilot off at the mouth of the River Schelde, the BBC forecast promised strong easterly winds down Channel.

We almost surfed past Beachy Head on our way towards Lands End and crossing Lyme Bay in darkness, my heart went out to Brixham fisherman, 'sheltering' in the sprat and mackerel.

Believe me, it was certainly not fishing weather.

Next morning, passing Lands End, altering course for the southern tip of Ireland, great seas carried us across the Irish Sea at a good speed and once around the Fastnet Rock lighthouse it was a sheltered run up the west coast to the beautiful port of Galway.

We'd completed the passage in less than 60 hours after sailing from the Belgian port. But…that was one time. Easterly gales still make me tremble.

While on the subject of the English Channel, there was an interesting programme on the telly last week about East Sussex folks endeavouring to raise funds to repaint the Beachy Head lighthouse.

Since it's erection in the early 1900's it's been painted red and white. This was done because Trinity House acknowledged that natural stone against the background of white cliffs, wouldn't be boldly visible by mariners seeking a day-mark. But of course times have changed.

Modern electronic navigation doesn't require distinct marks.

A radar signal, the size of a suitcase, would notify ships of their true position.

In fact it wouldn't surprise me if Beachy Head lighthouse is now automated and unmanned.

Consequently, having lost the revenue that shipping using the Channel paid as 'light-dues' I can understand why Trinity House doesn't warrant the original 'colour scheme' as being important. But then, we do tend to be a nation of traditionalists!

RATHER late in life, I've become convinced that politics isn't a 'spectator sport'.

Attending the Brixham Town Council meeting on Thursday, October 25, it soon became obvious that certain members couldn't agree about the minutes of the previous meeting or the agenda and spent the first hour bickering, rather than presenting collective arguments to Torbay Council, on behalf of the residents of Brixham. What a shambles!

More time was wasted concerning the disputed management of the Brixham Theatre, which was supposed to have been settled weeks ago, while little was said about the forthcoming meeting between Torbay Planners and the supermarket company Tesco at Churston Golf Club.

I couldn't understand why the meeting was being held at Churston when the subject matter was completely a Brixham concern?

Another question was why it was held in private and not open to the public. As far as I know Brixham Town Council was also not invited.

Many Brixhamites maintain an open mind about the supermarket development, accepting it will bring a decent lump sum to Torbay Council's funds and present them with a new car park but do we really need yet more traffic crowding the road into town?

That's just supposing shoppers from out of town would pass two supermarkets to journey towards Brixham?

As far as employment is concerned, yes, initially it will offer opportunities but what about the jobs that might be lost from established businesses closing down?

Whatever the politics, the people of Brixham should decide! End of!

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