Storm Eleanor, by Stephen Perham

The spirited New Year had hardly got its hat on before beginning its merry mischief of mayhem, slamming the door on the quiet embers of the worn out old reign, intent on fun, starting out as it means to carry on.

At first it was the wind, teasing, rushing, gushing, hushing, breathing out loud, whispering in and out of doorways, rattling the draughty window panes, “wake up, wake up,” playing a hollow tune upon the smoking chimney pots, clattering the copper tacked slates, whistling, singing, shouting, chasing the shadows, rising higher and higher up into the vast troposphere, passing the amassing clouds, the stormy, majestic cumulonimbus, touching the stratosphere before plummeting back down once more, hurtling, falling, racing, screaming, gathering with it the grumbling heavy rains, rushing on, pushing along the building sea, blasting, dancing, laughing as it crashes onto the land with a thundering shudder, shaking the bones of the old quay wall, rocking the cottages, swinging about the branches of the swaying trees, spinning and hissing around the aerials and flag poles, creeping lazily down the necks and backs of the ever watchful fishermen.

And then it was the tide, semi-diurnal, springing, flooding, filling the maelstrom bay with churning water, flowing and eddying, drifting, surging ever forward, growing into an uncontrollable mass of pure power, drawn by the moon, tempered by the wind until it reaches its height and then the ebb tide takes its turn to pull against the bullying wind creating an even uglier ferment.

Fishermen have ropes, lines, hawsers, leading from their boats to the immovable wall, fenders lashed alongside and extra weight removed to help the boats to breathe; preparations made but hope and luck the only lasting defence.

“For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.” Psalm 107:25

Then the sea joined in, building wave after wave of angry billow into a turbulent tormented torrent, rolling and curling, tumbling and rumbling, running, leaping, jumping, smashing down upon the dark, cold carboniferous coast, grasping onward, onward at the hard fast rocks, grinding the shingle into noisy sand, towering breakers whoosh, then draw back before rushing onward again and again, the Neptunian hand clasping at the shore, claiming, re-claiming, pounding relentlessly at the embattled beating heart of the harbour, throwing great cascading fountains of salty spray mist high into the night and across the swirling, helpless pushed and prodded boats that are caught in the circling tide; washing away the impotent lobster pots, ropes and nets, thought foolishly safe from the deluge. Foaming waves roar, belching their terror upon the beach, catching vehicles napping, washing pebbles and boulders through the Red Lion archway, invading the silent, unprotected bar, and making an island of the stood-alone hotel.

Drifting clouds of docile, spotting drizzle mingle with the salt-laden spume filling the damp air before easing into a steadier rhythm, picking up the tempo, breaking into a rapid fusillade, a swift drumbeat, pouring out the slow-witted heavy storm drops of rain that are not content unless they’re drenching, pelting, saturating all beneath them, being carried by the teasing wind in and under the sheltering covers, up against the sleeping, curtained windows, driving into closed doorways, dripping off noses, carrying a chill to the bones of the sodden tired of watching fishermen.

No two tides are ever the same. The sea must always come home eventually. As the ebb tide uncovers the points and headlands, Gallant Rock, Wood rock, White Cliff, Black Church, Chapman and Hartland, creating a welcome breakwater, cutting back the anger of the swell, easing the pressure off the frontline, entrenched mariners, giving a thankful breathing space to repair, restore and retrieve before the inevitable flood tide returns once more.

The wind and its highs and lows, cyclonic, anti-cyclonic millibars of pressure, blowing, blustering, and buffeting, joined by the sea with its accompanying peaks and troughs, waves and swells, billows and breakers, added to by the rain, incessant, continuous, downpouring, creating an orchestrated cacophony to welcome in the happy to make an entrance 2018.

Live music at the harbour

Enjoy the sounds of live local bands this weekend. Grab a freshly poured Clovelly Cobbler and head out to the harbour.

Friday 26th July | Joy Machine – 6pm onwards

Saturday 27th July | Three Pint Rule – 7pm onwards