Holyhead Sailing Club pays tribute to the 'fantastic contribution' made by members and the wider community following the damage to Holyhead Marina by Storm Emma

15 March 2018

As the environmental clean-up continues at Holyhead Marina in Anglesey, boats are beginning to be lifted from the water.

The commodore of Holyhead Sailing Club, Kim Argyle said at least 20 boats belonging to members had been lost or damaged during Storm Emma, which left a trail of devastation when it battered the marina in north Wales on 2 March. The club lost one of its launches.

Natural Resources Wales said at the time that approximately 85 boats had been damaged in the harbour.

‘Some of those were members’ homes,’ said Argyle. ‘The tragedy of this, the heartache and the incredible disruption to people’s lives is immeasurable. Our hearts go out to them’.

In a newsletter to club members on 14 March, he said there was now ‘visible progress’ in the recovery process, with some boats being salvaged.

‘There are currently personnel on site from the contractors who will be doing this task. There is no information as yet as to how long this will take, but a number of boats have already been lifted from the water. This is in addition to the half dozen or so boats that were just about floating and were removed to safety in the first couple of days,’ he explained.

The commodore added that the ‘scale of the disaster in ‘official’ terms is very big’, and acknowledged the help and support provided by club members and the wider community.

‘There has been a fantastic contribution made to the rescue process by a number of our club members, and without naming them, I would like to formally recognise what they have achieved. Also, the practical help and good wishes of the people of Holyhead (and further) has also been fantastic, and the club acknowledges this too,’ he stressed.

Continues below…

He assured members that the club’s own insurers, GJW have stated that there will be ‘no issue for boats wanting to use the moorings getting insurance’.

‘The picture with other companies is varied – some will, some won’t, some have increased the price and some have put on extra conditions. Best advice is shop around if you have problems,’ stated Argyle.

He said that harbour users were hoping Holyhead Marina would be able to re-instate a landing stage, adding that ‘if this doesn’t happen then rest assured we will work out a solution’.

The commodore said the Carnarfon Harbour Trust was currently refurbishing the club’s moorings, and that the ground chain on four of the club’s trots had been inspected. ‘We are really happy at the condition of that ground chain,’ he said.

The Holyhead Port Authority is privately owned by Stena Line Ports and are leading the harbour response, supported by a number of partner organisations including Holyhead Marina, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Anglesey County Council and North Wales Police.

Boats sunk at Holyhead Marina

The salvage of the boats is underway. Credit: SV Fornautic

Stena said that to date, more than 15 tonnes of polystyrene has been cleaned up from the harbour and nearby beaches, including those on the north-west coast of Anglesey after confirmation that polystyrene from marina pontoons damaged by Storm Emma had escaped the port on 7 March.

Much of the beach clean-up operation, which involved a large number of volunteers and members of the public co-ordinated by Keep Wales Tidy; and both Friends of the Anglesey Coastal Path and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has centred on Penrhyn Bay, Llanfwrog, and Trearddur Bay area during the past week.

‘A painstaking clean-up at Holyhead Marina has also made significant progress with more than 13 tonnes of polystyrene and 2,300 litres of oil recovered from vessels damaged. A number of boats have been salvaged and large pontoon sections also removed to aid the work,’ said Stena in a media release.

The chief executive of Anglesey County Council, Gwynne Jones, said, ‘These volunteers as well as local residents have played an important role in beach clean-up so far. We know that people are keen to help, and it is vital that they do this in a safe and responsible manner.’

‘We are, however, confident that affected beaches are safe for the public. I would encourage members of the public to contact the Council for guidance should they wish to help collect polystyrene from a beach affected by polystyrene,’ added Jones.

Anyone collecting polystyrene on beaches are advised to place it in bags and above the high tide mark – ensuring that they wear gloves at all times.

Stena Line Ports’ harbourmaster, Kevin Riley, also confirmed that good progress has been made in the harbour area.

He added: ‘We’ve made significant progress since Storm Emma decimated Holyhead marina area on March 2nd. As a port authority, we have focused on containment, recovery and disposal of both oil and polystyrene. We estimated that around 2,300 litres of oil and some 13 tonnes of polystyrene has been recovered from the harbour area to date.’

9 March 2018

Debris from boats damaged or sunk when Storm Emma ripped through Holyhead Marina on 2 March 2018 has been found along miles of the Anglesey coastline, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)  reporting some of the pollution has been found 26 miles away

The  salvage and clean-up operation is continuing at the marina in north Wales after high winds and a spring tide left 85 boats sunk or damaged.

Polystyrene from the marina’s pontoons also washed up and booms were brought in to contain diesel and other debris.

Wrecked boats at Holyhead Marina

The polystyrene from the pontoons has now polluted many miles of coastline. Credit: Jonathan Fox

A significant amount of fuel was pumped out of some of the larger vessels aground.

The Holyhead Port Authority is privately owned by Stena Line Ports and are leading the harbour response, supported by a number of partner organisations including the Marina, MCA, Natural Resources Wales, Anglesey County Council and North Wales Police.

A number of immediate measures have been put in place including –

The Harbour Authority has issued a holding Notice to Mariners to warn of possible pollution and sunken or floating debris.
Specialist disposal bins have been placed on Soldiers Quay.
Booms have been laid to help contain the spread of polystyrene and other contaminants.
A temporary waste storage operation has commenced to remove polystyrene and other contaminants.

Stena Line Ports, has deployed a tanker to remove the polystyrene pollution from the marina.

It said it was working with all the relevant external agencies to ensure the clean up ‘progresses as quickly and efficiently as possible’.

Boats sunk at Holyhead Marina

Holyhead Marina after Storm Emma had done its worst. Credit: Jonathan Fox

HM Coastguard continues to stress that the clean-up should be left to the experts although volunteers will be invited to assist where practical to do so.

The duty controller for HM Coastguard, Alex Smith, said: ‘We understand that many are keen to help but at this stage the shoreside clean-up is being managed professionally through port and local authorities. Further on down the line we expect that the public can get involved.’

‘We are also advising people to report anything unusual they may see on the nearby beaches. From our reports we believe the coastline known to have been affected so far is the Western Anglesey Coastline between Holyhead and Rhosneiger which is approximately 18 miles of coastline, as well as the coastline between Holyhead and Carmel Head which is approximately 8 miles of coastline,’ he continued.

‘It may be the case that some pyrotechnic marine flares wash up – if anyone see anything of this nature please do not pick it up or touch it – they are very dangerous if misused or fired accidentally. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard so that we can dispose of it safely and properly,’ added Smith.

The MCA said it was ‘unclear’ how long the clean-up would take.


The deputy head of counter pollution for the MCA, Russel Freeman, said: ‘Most of the debris is polystyrene which is floating on the surface. Our main concern at this stage is to contain the debris and make sure that as little as possible affects beaches outside the marina. At this stage, we know that some polystyrene has left the harbour area and we are working closely with local authorities on effective clean-up solutions.’

A spokesperson for Stena Line Ports said: ‘As the Port Authority for Holyhead, we are working very closely with the Marina and all relevant external agencies to ensure that the Storm Emma clean-up operation progresses as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a result of the Initial plastic pollution at Soldiers Quay extending to other areas of the Marina, more booms have been now been deployed to help contain the spread of plastic contamination.

“Booms have been laid in strategic positions in the New Harbour Marina area. The process of removing the polystyrene contaminant by the use of harbour craft continues. Much help has been given by local boat owners and is very much appreciated. However, from this point on the Pollution Responder contractor will control this area.

The remains of a bridge at Holyhead Marina

The MCA are not sure how long the clean up will take. Credit: Jonathan Fox

“With this in mind, and for Operational Safety reasons, a decision has been made to temporarily disallow access to the Marina, specifically by boat. If for any reason anybody needs information regarding Access or Egress, please contact Holyhead Marina. There are ongoing planning meetings with Marina, Port Authority and different agencies to review the ongoing clean-up operation.”

Jonathan Fox’s Fiskars Finnfire 33, Mikki Finn, was one of the many casualties.

He described the initial response to the devastation at Holyhead Marina as ‘slow and confused’.

‘I have not been contacted directly by the marina staff which I feel is very poor,’ stated Fox, who added there had been looting from some of the wrecked boats. North Wales Police are investigating.

Yachting Monthly tried to speak to Holyhead Marina but was told no one was available as members staff were concentrating on the clean-up operation.

‘Despite our best efforts, the weather conditions were too severe and we were unable to do anymore to save the marina without risking the lives of our staff,’ stated a post on the marina’s Facebook page.

The MCA said all vessels or associated parts of these, involved in the recent Storm Emma incident at Holyhead Marina do not fall under the legal definition of wreck and therefore should be dealt with as lost property. All found property relating to this incident should be reported to Holyhead Harbour Master or the local police.

Initially, volunteers from the local community and Holyhead Sailing Club turned out to help with the clean-up before being asked by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to stand down because of health and safety concerns.