Ships’ big waves are still a menace on resort’s shores

Felixstowe beach

Felixstowe beach - Credit: Archant

Those new doom and gloom signs on Felixstowe seafront are missing one vital piece of information.

They tell how dangerous the coast can be and the don’ts (none of the do’s) of enjoying the seaside – but they could add another to their long list of “bewares”.

For there is no mention of the larger-than-normal waves caused by the enormous cargo and passenger ferries entering Harwich Harbour.

Some years ago there was uproar when the high-speed Stena ferry was in operation.

Huge waves would sweep ashore, rushing up the beach, knocking people off their feet, the retreating water taking away sunbathers’ possessions and creating mayhem.

I recall one afternoon on a hot packed beach when around 300 people were caught out – dads having to rescue toddlers, people furious at the danger to life and loss of belongings.

Those waves still exist – though nowhere near as bad as they used to be, due now to the controls on the speed and course of the vessels passing the resort’s coast.

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We watched on two evenings last week as a ferry came in.

Minutes after it passed and was rounding Landguard Point, the calm sea suddenly changed as six to eight sharp waves suddenly landed with a crack on the shore.

To most people playing in the sea they posed no problem and provided a bit of fun, but we carefully watched a toddler playing by the water’s edge and whose parents had to take swift action to scoop him up.

High-speed vessels may still be causing problems elsewhere.

My former colleague Richard Smith, who now works with the RNLI in Scotland, spotted some very large warning signs – once a journalist, always a journalist – while on holiday in the south west of Scotland.

We were all glad to see the horrible wave warning signs removed from the groynes at Felixstowe, but a reminder ought still to be included on the new negative notices put in place along the prom edge – for safety’s sake.

By the way, these notices still remain a mystery – local councillors believe they may have been sent by Suffolk Coastal’s partner Waveney, though no-one is sure why. The best theory is that they may well be connected to the changes in water quality testing coming into force next year.

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