Category Archives: Coast

ILFRACOMBE LOCALS RAISE CASH TO LAUNCH HARBOUR’S MARINE ROBOT

Two Ilfracombe residents have raised £300 in a show of community spirit to ensure the town harbour’s marine robot can continue its clean-up.

Carol Chapple and Rose Fisher, who live close to Ilfracombe Harbour, organised a raffle to raise money to fund the WasteShark launch project when it became apparent that Ilfracombe’s high tidal range was preventing the robot from being used on a regular basis.

The autonomous marine robot was first launched in Ilfracombe in March this year to help clear the harbour of waste. The WasteShark is designed to roam distances of up to 5km of water, capturing plastics, microplastics, oils and other pollutants.

Ilfracombe was the first place in the UK to host the WasteShark, which is the world’s first marine robot designed specifically to eat waste and collect data. It does not emit carbon or produce noise or light pollution, so is kind to nature and poses no threat to wildlife.

Ilfracombe is located on the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world (the first being in the Bay of Fundy in Canada). This has meant that the launch system devised by the manufacturers of the WasteShark does not always work in Ilfracombe Harbour. Together with local firm Coastal Engineering Services, Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat and Deputy Harbourmaster Ric Simpson designed an alternative launch system, consisting of a crane and bespoke shark cage to name but a few parts.

Ilfracombe Harbourmaster, Georgina Carlo-Paat says: “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lantern Court community and local residents for organising and taking part in a raffle in support of the WasteShark. Raising this money to go towards the launch system will enable the ‘shark’ to go out and about more often and keep our beautiful harbour clear of debris. Thanks to the community’s efforts we are now well on the way to having the WasteShark on a regular patrol around the harbour.”

You can keep up to date with what’s happening at Ilfracombe Harbour on North Devon Council’s website www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/ilfracombe-harbour.

PHOTO: Ilfracombe Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat (centre) with Carol Chapple (left) and Rose Fisher (right).

HERITAGE TRAIL OF NORTH DEVON TO LAUNCH ON D-DAY ANNIVERSARY

75 years on from the D-Day landings a new trail launched this week will commemorate 12 of the most important military and cultural sites of the Second World War in North Devon. The World War II Heritage Trail will be unique in including sites of both strategic magnitude and human significance, and will highlight locations from Great Torrington in the south to Watermouth Cove in the north of the area.

Developed by North Devon’s museums and the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the trail unveiling follows the announcement that one of its sites, the D-Day practice structures at Braunton Burrows, is to be given heritage protection by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, on the advice of Historic England.

Each location on the North Devon-wide, 12-point trail will be marked with a bronze plaque. An accompanying booklet will feature an area map and grid references, helping local people and visitors to find their way around the key sites while revealing the military and human stories behind them.

Claire Gulliver, project coordinator, said: “The North Devon coast closely resembled that of Normandy. We hope that this trail will bring to life the military strategy that was being developed on North Devon’s beaches, estuaries and sand dunes, in practising for the biggest amphibious assault in military history. But we also hope to evoke the human stories of the British and Allied soldiers who lived and trained here, together with those of the local communities they mixed with.

“Some of the trail sites are well known for the role they played in the D-Day preparations, such as the concrete structures at Braunton Burrows where soldiers practised debarking from their landing craft, or the dunes of Northam Burrows where British personnel experimented with adapted tanks known as ‘Hobart’s Funnies’. Other locations are more surprising, such as Torrington Square where off-duty American GIs used to gather before a night out on the town, or the American Red Cross Centre in Woolacombe, now the Red Barn Pub and popular with surfers today.”

A special booklet, Devon D-Day: A World War II Heritage Trail of the North Devon Coast will be available from museums from the D-Day anniversary, 6 June.

The trail is part of Devon D-Day. Devon D-Day is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional financial support from North Devon Council, North Devon Coast AONB and North Devon Marketing Bureau.

PHOTO: GI soldiers at the American Red Cross Centre, Woolacombe (now the Red Barn pub), 1943 (courtesy of Mortehoe Museum).

 

SEABIRDS FLOCK BACK TO LUNDY ISLAND

A new study led by the RSPB has revealed that total seabird numbers on the island of Lundy have now tripled to over 21,000 birds, and key species such as Manx shearwater have increased to more than 5,500 pairs and puffins to 375 birds.

This growth over the past 15 years resulted after the island was declared rat free in 2006.  The eradication of rats was necessary after evidence from other important seabird islands revealed that the biggest threat to burrow-nesting birds such as Manx shearwaters and puffins on Lundy was predation of the eggs and chicks by rats.

In 2002 a partnership of Natural England, the Landmark Trust, the National Trust and the RSPB was formed to eradicate the rats on Lundy, which are not native to Britain but were imported unwittingly on ships visiting the island or from shipwrecks.

Rosie Hall, Director of Science & Nature at the National Trust, said, “We were really concerned as previous records showed that puffin numbers on Lundy had plummeted from over 3,500 pairs in 1939 to fewer than 10 pairs in 2000.  And although around 75% of the global population of Manx shearwaters breed on UK islands there were only 297 pairs on Lundy in 2001 – way short of its potential considering its size and available habitat.”

Helen Booker, Senior Conservation Officer for the RSPB in South West England, said: “This study clearly shows how quickly and positively seabirds respond to the removal of non-native predators. Of course, we had anticipated major population increases when the project was launched, but the scale of this recovery has far exceeded our expectations.

Dean Jones, Lundy Warden, speaking for Landmark Trust, said, “It is exciting to see this level of recovery in Manx shearwaters, one of our most important seabirds. In spring the island comes alive at night with the sound of these amazing birds. The increases in puffins, guillemots and razorbills is also very encouraging for the future of seabirds on Lundy and we are maintaining our vigilance to ensure rats cannot return to the island.”

Tim Frayling, Senior Specialist in Ornithology at Natural England, said, “Lundy Island is home to one of the most important seabird colonies in England and it is fantastic to see such a revival in numbers.

“The current challenges facing wildlife are huge, but this remarkable increase demonstrates that wildlife recovery can be achieved by partnerships and local communities working together, in this case by
combining their expertise to create a safer breeding environment for the fantastic diversity of breeding seabirds that help make Lundy so special.”

Ms Booker added, “The partners are grateful for all the support we’ve had over the years from a huge team of volunteers without which both the work to eradicate the rats and our knowledge of the seabirds’ recovery simply would not have been possible.”

PHOTO by Elisabeth Price

RNLI ILFRACOMBE RECEIVES GRANT FROM NORTH DEVON COAST AONB

Ilfracombe Lifeboat station has an area reaching from Woolacombe in the west to Foreland Point in the east with call-outs to Lundy Island where necessary. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it attracts many visitors throughout the year.

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service.  The station has initiated a project over the last 12 months to support the lifeboat station to purchase additional life-saving equipment.

Jenny Carey-Wood, AONB Manager, says: “Despite the beauty of the seas and coast of North Devon they can be a challenging environment to explore and enjoy. The improved  capability from this valuable new equipment will help to save lives and we are delighted to support the RNLI’s work.”

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe, says: “The grant of £3,500 from the North Devon Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund will be of huge benefit to the work of the RNLI Ilfracombe Lifeboat station to help us save lives at sea and will be used to purchase valuable life-saving equipment.”

PHOTO: Jenny Carey-Wood, Manager at the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), presented Chris Wallis from Ilfracombe RNLI with a cheque for £3,500 from their Sustainable Development Fund earlier this month. The presentation took place at the Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station and was attended by volunteer crew members.

ILFRACOMBE RNLI THANKS VOLUNTEERS FOR LONG SERVICE AT AWARDS CEREMONY

An awards ceremony has been held at the Ilfracombe RNLI annual dinner to thank 12 RNLI volunteers for their service to the station. Eight awards were given out to crew for long service and a further four service awards were given to crew standing down.

Andrew Putt, the RNLI Regional Improvement Manager, gave out the awards at the annual RNLI dinner on 12 April 2019 at Ilfracombe Golf Course. The awards included a 40-year service award to all-weather lifeboat (ALB) Coxswain Andrew Bengey and 20-year service awards to Head Launcher and Launch Vehicle Driver Gary Belgrove, Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) Helm and ALB Assistant Mechanic Stuart Carpenter, Shorecrew Mark Gammon, Assistant Coxswain, Mechanic and ILB Helm Leigh Hanks, Deputy Launching Authority Ian Meadlarkin, Second Coxswain Carl Perrin and ALB crewman Steve Ashton.

The station also presented certificates to Andy Maslen who was leaving the station after 14 years’ service, and Matt Simpson who was standing down from the Ilfracombe Station after 23 years’ service. A further Letter of Thanks was given to Mark Weeks who stood down as a Tooltrak Launch Driver but continues as ILB Helm and ALB crew. Dr Sean Ross was awarded a Letter of Thanks from the Institution for his role as Lifeboat Medical Adviser, a role from which he has recently stepped down.

Andrew Bengey, Ilfracombe RNLI Volunteer Coxswain, who received an award for 40 years of service, says, “When I first joined the RNLI the crews were mainly commercial fishermen. The RNLI has changed a lot over the last 40 years – now there is much more training available and people now come from all walks of life. I still enjoy being a volunteer with the RNLI, there is great camaraderie and teamwork, and you know someone’s always got your back. Over the years I’ve probably been out on over 800 shouts and there’s a lot of satisfaction when you know that you have helped someone. The RNLI is a great organisation and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Chris Wallis, RNLI Operations Manager for Ilfracombe RNLI Lifeboat, says: “The RNLI depends on the work of volunteers to carry out many different types of roles. At Ilfracombe RNLI we are honoured and proud to give out these long-service awards to our dedicated volunteers who give up their time to help us save lives at sea.”

Photo by Jo Bolton.

RNLI APPLEDORE AND ILFRACOMBE TOW 300-TON MS OLDENBURG TO SAFETY

The volunteer crews of both the RNLI Appledore all weather Tamar class lifeboat Mollie Hunt and RNLI Ilfracombe all-weather Shannon class lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation were launched on Saturday 6 April following reports that the Lundy ferry MS Oldenburg had suffered a mechanical breakdown at Lundy Island.

The RNLI Appledore lifeboat was launched at 5.20pm, and the RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat crew launched approximately half an hour later, with both lifeboats arriving at Lundy around 6.45pm. The weather was moderate with a fresh easterly wind and small waves.

On arrival at Lundy both lifeboat Coxswains assessed the situation and discussed the appropriate course of action with the Master of the MS Oldenburg and the Coastguard agency. At this point the MS Oldenburg was secured to the jetty and the passengers had been removed from the ship and were safely ashore, leaving seven crew members on board. A commercial tug had been requested and was underway from Pembrokeshire, however this was not scheduled to arrive until around midnight. There was some concern that the weather was forecast to change over the next few hours before the tug was due to arrive, with stronger winds and tide which could potentially cause damage to the ship.

Following this consultation the Ilfracombe lifeboat crew secured a tow line, which was left slack, to the stern of the MS Oldenburg as a precaution, in case the weather worsened and both lifeboats then stood off ready to assist if necessary and to await the arrival of the tug. The tug arrived just after midnight and Ilfracombe lifeboat was stood down and returned to station at 2.15am. Appledore lifeboat remained on scene whilst the tug towed the MS Oldenburg off the jetty stern first, and then secured the tow from the front of the ferry. Once the tow was underway Appledore RNLI returned to station, arriving on their mooring at around 4am, with the crew home at 4.45am.

Carl Perrin, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, says, “The lifeboats stood by prepared to act if required if the weather had deteriorated. However, fortunately the wind did not increase as forecast. Before the tug arrived the sea conditions around the jetty due to the tidal state were starting to worsen as the depth of water under the vessels was reducing on the ebb tide. The RNLI Appledore and Ilfracombe lifeboat volunteer teams worked together to provide assistance the MS Oldenburg.”

The RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat was launched again at 7.25am on Sunday 7 April to assist the MS Oldenburg into port at Ilfracombe. The two all weather lifeboats currently at station, The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and the relief Shannon class Stormrider were launched to help the tug bring the MS Oldenburg safely into the harbour. The lifeboats secured lines to the stern of the MS Oldenburg and helped slow and control the vessel as she came into the harbour. RNLI Ilfracombe volunteer shore crew helped to secure the MS Oldenburg into her berth.

RNLI Coxswain Leigh Hanks says, “This was a big team effort from the station. Some of the crew had only returned to station at 2.15am and had only got to bed at 3.45am before they were paged again to assist at 7.25am. Conditions for bringing the MS Oldenburg back into port were testing with a fresh easterly wind and the fact that the ship weighs almost 300 tons. The crew train extensively for situations like this and we do take part in joint training with the MS Oldenburg in case of emergencies as we are her home port.”

Later the same day RNLI Ilfracombe were requested to launch to Lundy Island again, to evacuate an individual who required medication who had been stranded on the island overnight. The Ilfracombe lifeboat launched at 3.45pm and arrived at the Island at 4.30pm. The lifeboat returned to station at 6pm, bringing back the individual for whom the evacuation was requested and a further five people including two individuals who were scheduled for surgery in the next 48 hours and a surgeon from a local hospital. Arrangements are being made by the owners of the MS Oldenburg to bring back the remaining passengers.

PHOTO: The MS Oldenburg being towed into Ilfracombe harbour with Ilfracombe lifeboats assisting.

MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED FOR ILFRACOMBE HARBOUR

The following is a news release as issued by North Devon Council:

Major improvements are being planned for Ilfracombe Harbour to make it safer and more welcoming to its visitors.

The plans include:

  • creating an official entrance so people know they are entering the harbour
  • improving the facilities for the commercial operators with brand-new, fit-for-purpose, ticket sales kiosks that are modern, inviting and designed in cooperation with the interested boat trip operators
  • removing the 1950s booths which will open up the vista of the harbour entrance to be more welcoming for residents and visitors
  • widening the road, vastly improving the safety of pedestrians and cars
  • creating a larger trading area for the commercial boat operators along the side of the pier, alleviating the cramped and congested area occupied by the old booths, creating a more pleasant environment for all harbour users
  • enabling the underlying pipework that provides fresh water to be upgraded which is currently hard to access.

Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Geoff Fowler, says: “The current booths were never built for their current purpose and do not reflect the image of regeneration that Ilfracombe is striving for. There is now the opportunity to look to the future and bring in a new era of vitality to the harbour for the benefit of everyone.”

Deputy Chairman of Ilfracombe Harbour Board, Cllr Ian Meadlarkin, says: “Ilfracombe Harbour is a wonderful facility but it needs to be made safer and more inviting. These plans are about celebrating the heritage of the harbour but also making it fit for purpose for the future.”

The new kiosks are due to be installed in April with a planning application for the road widening expected to be made later in the year.

A public consultation will take place on what the public would like to see marking the new entrance.

RNLI ILFRACOMBE LAUNCHED TO ASSIST WITH SEARCH FOLLOWING CAR CLIFF FALL

Volunteer RNLI crew launched relief all-weather lifeboat, Stormrider, to assist the emergency services in the search for possible casualties following an incident where a vehicle fell from steep cliffs onto the beach at Sillery Sands, near Lynmouth.

The call was received at 9.05am on Saturday 9 March and the volunteer crew quickly mobilised and launched the relief Shannon class all-weather lifeboat Stormrider. Sea conditions were rough, with a near gale force 7-8 westerly wind and strong tides with four-metre swells. In these challenging conditions the journey out to Sillery Sands took 35 minutes and the RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene at 9.40am.

Once on scene, volunteer crew could see the badly damaged car at the foot of the steep cliff at the water line. The Ilfracombe Coastguard Rescue Team, Lynmouth Coastguard Rescue Team and the police were in attendance at the scene. At this point RNLI crew were informed that the driver had managed to escape from the car, but it was unclear whether there was anyone else in the vehicle at the time  it went over the cliff.  Lynmouth Fire Service and Barnstaple Fire Specialist Rescue team also attended the scene and were able to search the wreckage of the car and confirm that no-one was inside.

The RNLI lifeboat crew were tasked by the coastguard and police with searching the cliffside and shoreline to check whether there were any other casualties. Using their knowledge of the conditions and tides, the crew searched the shoreline and cliff area, and identified a number of objects for investigation by the coastguard team. No casualties were found. The coastguard sent a cliff technician down the cliff and all of the objects were retrieved. The RNLI crew searched the area for an hour and half before before being stood down at 11.10am by the emergency services. The lifeboat then returned to the station by 11.40am.

Carl Perrin, RNLI Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat, who led the search says: “Our volunteer crew performed well to assist the police and coastguard in the search for casualties. The team have trained extensively to carry out this kind of task and today they used their training and local knowledge to carry out this search with strong winds and a heavy seas making conditions challenging.

“There were a number of people gathered around the rocks at the shoreline to observe the rescue. In such rough and unpredictable sea conditions, we would remind people to take extra care and to respect the water.”

PHOTO at top of story: Stormrider by Neil Perrin.

NEW COASTAL TRAIL TO REVEAL NORTH DEVON’S AMERICAN GI STORY

Visitors to North Devon this summer will be able to discover the area’s hidden wartime past as evidenced in its iconic coastal landscape.

Thanks to an Arts Council lottery grant secured by the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, important Second World War locations, including sites used to prepare for the D-Day landings, will join a new coastal heritage trail linking the landscape with local museums’ wartime collections.

15 bronze plaques will mark significant Second World War sites along the coastline from Hartland to Mortehoe, and will be accompanied by an illustrated visitor guide.

The project, Devon D-Day, will add a new dimension to the popular Saunton D-Day/D-Day Devon event which takes place at Saunton Sands each year and recalls the training of 10,000 American GIs who arrived in 1943 to prepare for the Normandy landings among the sand-dunes of North Devon.

The £14,600 grant will also enable experts to provide educational events for local schoolchildren, provide a 1940s-style tea dance for all ages and support a mysterious drama opportunity for a handful of local young men.

Executive Member for Parks Leisure and Culture at North Devon Council, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The coast of North Devon, with its beaches, estuaries and sand-dunes, offered American troops the perfect stand-in for the Normandy beaches while they perfected their amphibious assault strategy. 10,000 American GIs were stationed in North Devon. It was a huge thing for the local community and intriguing glimpses of the past are visible today in the North Devon landscape. We hope that this new project will enable visitors, including perhaps those descended from the American GIs themselves, to discover this vibrant part of our coastal history on the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the American forces.”

Devon D-Day is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with additional financial support from North Devon Council, North Devon Coast AONB Sustainable Development Fund and North Devon Marketing Bureau.

PHOTO: First Wave 44 Living History group on Braunton Burrows.

 

FURTHER ACCOLADES FOR DUNSTER BEACH HUTS

Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts at Dunster Beach have been recognised by Theo Paphitis, retail magnate and entrepreneur. He is best known for his appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den but also runs #SBS on Twitter to recognise small businesses with entrepreneurial spirit.

Theo says, “I admire people who have passion and energy. If you cannot bore your friends to death about your own small business then something is seriously wrong. I was struck by the number of business owners on Twitter who wanted to tell me about their new products and services. Small Business Sunday was born so that people have a specific time slot to tweet and can pitch their ‘sell’ directly to me.

“My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club. Like-minded individuals can share successes and learnings. This website will give a valuable profile to the winners chosen to date and should help those who have not yet won but want some tips on how to do so. You will find news about the latest winners plus events and activities of interest.

“I know I have been lucky in business and I am keen now to spread goodwill to others, of course not forgetting that, very often, you make your own luck by making use of every opportunity.”

“We are absolutely delighted being chosen from hundreds of applicants to win this accolade. Being an #SBS winner will give Salad Days and Holi Moli Beach Huts as well as Dunster Beach unprecedented exposure nationwide,” said Brett Bates, co-owner of the beach huts with his partner Susan Juggins. ”With the launch of our newest beach hut Holi Moli it will only add to the incredible success of Salad Days, helping to bring many more tourists to this wonderful part of South West England.”

Find out more on the Salad Days & Holi Moli website dunsterbeachhut.com/

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