Recently I was swimming back to shore after a great couple of hours snorkelling on the North Norfolk chalk reef at Sheringham when some large pieces of wreckage suddenly loomed into view. I had been told years ago about a shipwreck in this area but never managed to find it before despite swimming in the area where I believed it was.
As I swam through the wreckage I filmed & photographed what I saw with the intention of showing it to the folks at Sheringham Museum. Once I had processed the images I posted them on a couple of social media platforms and soon had a response from a local fisherman to say that he thought it may be the SS Commodore. A short time later Tim Groves and Kenny Holloway from Sheringham Museum contacted me to confirm that it was indeed the Commodore and were very excited to see the photos as it has, for many years, sat covered by sand, hidden from view.
Tim & Kenny were kind enough to send me some information and photos of the Commodore, for more information watch the video (bottom of this blog post) I made with a voiceover reading from newspaper articles at the time but the simplified version is below –
The Steam Ship Commodore was on passage from Hartlepoole with 1250 tonnes of coal when she ran ashore at Sheringham at 11pm on Saturday 7th November 1896. The seas were fairly calm when she first ran aground and some fishing boats went out to try to help the captain & crew off. The Captain refused assistance believing the ship would refloat but a little while later a storm blew up from the North East, so the fishing boats returned to shore leaving 3 fishermen on the Commodore. The sea soon became rough and the captain sent up distress flares deciding that now he wanted to get off the ship!
The town’s lifeboat, The Henry Ramey Upcher, launched to their assistance and by 2am, with a lifeboat crew of 33 they took the 3 fishermen and 14 crew off the Commodore, bringing them ashore where they were given dry clothes, hot drinks & food. The lifeboat must have been very cramped that stormy night.
Below are some pictures kindly supplied by Tim Groves at Sheringham Museum, the first is an artistic recreation of the scene by local painter Mick Bensley, middle left is the salvage team on the wreckage in 1896, middle right is the wreckage remains in 1897, and the bottom shot is another shot of the wreckage from the late 1890s.
I was amazed at how much of the wreck was still present and swam what I thought was the length of the wreck but a few days later, as you will see below, I put the drone up over the wreck at the next low spring tide and discovered that there was much more of the wreck lying there than I had possibly imagined.
Aerial shots the following week revealed the full outline of the shipwreck sat on the sea floor, lying East to West, in only about 3 feet of water with large chunks of the ship lying nearby. In September 1903 officials of Trinity House attended Sheringham and placed explosives throughout the ship in order to try to break up the wreckage as it had been posing a hazard to the local fishing boats, particularly the large boiler which could easily have holed a wooden fishing boat’s hull while just under the water’s surface. Looking at the wreckage it seems to have signs of being blown up, some chunks have holes in them and others lie splayed out away from the hull (although this could also have just been from 125 years of storms & wave action).
On subsequent snorkels on the wreck with friends we discovered what I believe is the tubeplate from the boiler – a grid of 6 inch holes through which would have passed many pipes taking water into the furnace of the boiler to then turn into steam in order to power the ship. This was lying approx 20 metres from the rest of the wreckage which ties in with it being blown up. One article from the time described the explosion – ‘a huge column of water shot into the air followed by 5 or 6 more’.
It was interesting seeing how the sealife now used the wreck as an artificial reef despite it being so close in to shore and well inside the surf zone meaning it would get battered in the storms. Above is a peacock worm on the tubeplate from the boiler and I saw lots of wrasse, crab, common prawn and more all using the ship as home. During one visit when I was filming another snorkeller swimming through the wreck to give an sense of scale, I noticed a dark shape also moving around the wreck and realised that it was a grey seal hunting. We saw her catch a couple of fish, one of which looked like a Ballan wrasse. The film of the seal is shown at the bottom of this post.
It was great to get some drone shots with someone snorkelling on the wreckage to give a sense of scale. On the right of the image below you will see the grey seal. Moments after this photo was taken the seal swam within 6 feet of the snorkeller (as seen on the video), clearly very curious!
The ‘discovery’ of the shipwreck gained a surprising amount of media interest with the EDP & North Norfolk News running stories about it, plus the national newspaper ‘i’ ran the story on Page 3 and the BBC featured the story on it’s main online News page here.
Once I got the aerial shots the BBC then ran the story a second time and at the time of writing it has been on their national news page for three consecutive days, including some shots taken of me swimming on the wreck by a friend & fellow drone operator Jon Payne. Second BBC article. All great publicity and gaining Sheringham some national attention.
Update – this week I have also had CBS in the New York on the phone about the wreck and this morning they ran this feature on their CBS Saturday Morning show, international fame at last!
Below are some press cuttings of the articles written about the Commodore finding. While I would certainly never claim to have discovered the shipwreck (it’s been known about for 125 years after all!), I do think these are the most revealing images that have been taken of it for many decades since it has laid mostly buried under sand for a long time. It was just a lucky coincidence that I happened to stumble upon it that afternoon while the water was clear and the sand had been scoured away by recent tidal movements…
I made a short film about the wreck giving some information about the history, which can be seen below. I do plan to make an updated version in the coming weeks as I now have further underwater video, aerial footage and have been contacted by a well-respected local shipwreck history researcher who is planning on delving into the historical records from the time to dig up more information about the story of the SS Commodore.
Also below is a short film showing the grey seal feeding around the wreck –
It’s been a really interesting couple of weeks, I feel very lucky to have been able to find this wonderful old wreck, learn more about her history and share it with others. It’s been lovely to visit the wreck over the last few days and every time see people exploring the wreck after seeing the various articles and items on the local news.
I’ve also managed to get lots of sea-time in to snorkel the chalk reef and film the wonderful sealife down there, I am planning another film with voiceover to show what lives down there so watch this space!
I’ve wanted to sail on Blakeney’s iconic sailing barge – Juno, for many years and last week it finally happened.
The builder, owner & skipper Charlie Ward emailed me to say he was heading off for a trip offshore and would I like to join him to document the voyage. Luckily we were blessed with a beautiful morning as we arrived alongside Juno in Charlie’s tender. The mooring was released and we motor-sailed out of Blakeney harbour to the sound of terns screeching and small waves lapping at the bow. Rounding the point we saw a handful of grey seals hauled out on the sand, basking in the sun, navigated the buoys through the safe channel, and were out into the open water where preparations to hoist Juno’s five sails began.
With sails up the motor was shut off and we could enjoy the peace that sailors so love. With an easterly breeze we couldn’t easily take the planned route to Cromer pier first so we headed North to the Sheringham shoal windfarm. Gannets slunk by and terns wheeled overhead, guillemots bobbing on the water curiously observed us as we quietly passed by, this was paradise!
While the sun was still out I decided it was time to put the drone up for some aerial video & photos. Flying a drone from a moving boat is a challenge I’ve experienced a few times before but none have come as close as this to losing the drone! With a bolted-on drone handle of my own design I held the drone aloft, started the motors & took off. As predicted it was instantly a close call as the boat was moving at a good speed and I had to quickly manoeuvre the drone away from Juno. After getting the drone safely away I started shooting the video and photos, after 10-15 minutes, happy that I had shot from all angles needed, I brought the drone back to recover.
This is always very tricky on a moving boat as the drone will hover using a fix on multiple GPS satellites but the boat was still moving (and not only forwards but also pitching, rocking & rolling with the sea). I had to recruit Leanne to try to catch the unwilling drone (for the first time ever!) out of the air as I tried to bring it closer in to the boat, sails & lines presenting multiple hazards. Luckily Leanne made a bold grab for the drone handle as soon as it finally got close enough and held on tight while I shut off the screaming engines. It was a close call!
I couldn’t resist climbing the mast via the Jacob’s Ladder for some shots (and a bit of fun). With harness fitted and Charlie showing me how to use the clipping-in system I began the ascent. It was definitely more challenging than I had first thought with the ladder wobbling increasingly as I got higher up. I don’t have a problem with heights but I have to say that my legs did feel a little wobbly this time and I did my best not to think about how hard I would hit the deck if I fell off (although the harness should have stopped that happening!)
The view from the top was worth the climb and certainly seemed much higher up than when stood on deck looking up. I reached the top, swung the camera round on it’s strap and discovered that it wouldn’t switch on. Nightmare! After fiddling for a bit it seemed the battery I had just replaced wasn’t working so descended again to try & figure out the problem. Both feet back on deck again the camera suddenly started working so up I went for a second time, this time successful with the shots and footage I wanted.
As the massive wind turbines appeared out of the haze and were soon looming we were all transfixed. I’ve often stood & gazed at the wind turbines offshore from my home town of Sheringham but to be virtually underneath them was amazing. Charlie told us that the pods on the top of every turbine have two beds & food/water supplies for 7 days in case the engineers that work on them should get stranded there if the weather unexpectedly closed in. What a week that would be, stuck in the top of a turbine 12 miles out to sea in a raging gale!
The interior of Juno is stunningly finished with a number of berths, galley, two heads and a dining area. She has a stunning control centre where all of the various technologies and navigation equipment can be monitored. Despite only being finished in the year 2000, Juno is a very classic looking yacht, a half-size replica of a dutch sailing barge. Many people (myself included) are surprised to see just how well she has been fitted out with the many technological advances which wouldn’t have even been dreamt of in the days when barges like this were first used as working cargo transporters.
As the day went on the sky started to darken and before long a squall came through, the sea whipped up and a rain shower battered the portholes while myself & Leanne took shelter with the cameras below deck.
In total we were out for 10 hours and covered 35 miles, visiting both the Sheringham Shoal and Race Bank windfarms, dipping into International Waters for a part of the voyage.
It was a fantastic, unforgettable day out on the water, huge thanks go to Charlie Ward for taking us, also thanks go to the excellent crew – Toby & Tom and my able assistant Leanne – drone-catcher extraordinaire!
Below is a short film I made of the trip, some of this footage will be used in a longer film in which I aim to capture more sailing action on Juno and show how she is returned to her winter mooring on Blakeney Quay, all finished off with a voice over by Charlie himself.
Sit back & enjoy a relaxing 5 minute voyage on Juno from your own house, no seasickness pills required!
A couple of weeks ago I spent two evenings at the East Anglian Air Ambulance base, Norwich Airport on a PR shoot (expertly assisted by Leanne) to publicise that, as of today, they are operational 24 hours a day. More information about that here.
It was always going to be tricky since we not only required decent weather for it but also knowing that they could be called out at any point – at the time we did the shoot they were operating up until 1:15am as a way to ease into shifts running the full 24hrs on the 30th June. We got lucky and had a couple of decent evenings and managed to get most of the shots we had hoped for on the first day before that red telephone started ringing and they were tasked to attend a casualty. This worked for me as I got to take photos of the helicopter (Anglia One) taking off and flying out into the sunset.
All of the team were very welcoming and it was good to chat with them (over a cheeky McD’s!) about various aspects of their job. It seems amazing that the air ambulance is a charity, a service which has saved countless lives in East Anglia with their helicopters based in Norwich and Cambridge, notching up over 30,000 missions since they started in 2000. Being able to not only get places very quickly but also deliver highly trained doctors and critical care paramedics is an invaluable service to the region. Also as they carry doctors (and some state of the art equipment) they are able to administer treatments that previously would have only been available to casualties on arrival at hospital; treatment that saves lives time and time again.
With the first evening’s shots in the bag and the helicopter winging their way to someone in need we packed up, already planning the shoot the following evening to get the rest of the shots.
When we turned up the next evening we could see the helicopter was not outside the hanger so I brought up the FlightRadar24 app on my phone and we could see they were currently on a job at the coast but on their way back. Sure enough, ten minutes later, we heard the whirring and Anglia One appeared over the horizon, took their approach along the runway then turned and came towards us outside the hanger before posing for some in-flight photos and landing. It was good to see the same pilots from the previous evening on board – Captain Rob and Co-pilot Seb.
In the shot below pilot Seb demonstrates the new Japanese-style sleeping pods, installed in their fully made-over hanger to allow the crew to get some sleep during the night between tasks…
A big thank you to all at EAAA for their hospitality over the couple of evenings we spent with them, also to my partner, Leanne, for being such a great assistant as always. I hope the shots we got help the EAAA promote the fantastic work they do for our community and all the best to them for the next step in the evolution of the service in providing critical care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I recently received a grant to purchase some new equipment to allow my business to grow and thought I’d share on here about it to allow others to apply for any future schemes they have running. The grant was through the New Anglia Business Growth Programme for the visitor economy and wider economy funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
More information about New Anglia here: www.newanglia.co.uk
The grant was received to assist me in taking my filmmaking business to the next level, allowing me to purchase broadcast quality lighting and sound equipment for an exciting new project we have planned to show off the North Norfolk coast and various amazing events throughout the year.
I can’t say any more about it right now but we have been working (and continue to work) on a pilot episode for submission to various television channels with a view to getting commissioned to produce a full series.
The generous grant enabled me to purchase the fantastic Aputure 300D II & Lightdome for beautifully lighting interviews plus some superb sound equipment including the Rode Go II microphones, a Zoom H4N pro sound recorder and the Rode NTG3 microphone with ‘blimp’ windshield for capturing amazing ambient sounds & interviews on the go.
Over the last couple of months I’ve been keeping busy filming the landscapes, weather and wildlife of my local area of the North Norfolk coast. The film below is the result, the first part of a four part series documenting the year on the coast.
It’s included a few surprises for me such as finding a badger sett with a rare erythritic (white) badger, seeing gulls ice-skate (actually it’s more slipping over than skating) and filming a tear roll down the face of a canada goose. Not to mention a male hare flexing his little hare-maker in preparation for spring (you need a sharp eye to spot that in the film!)
Using three wildlife camera traps (also known as Trailcams) at various spots along the coast I have found a thriving nocturnal community of rabbits, foxes, roe deer, mice, muntjac and of course the amazing badgers – the plan was just to use the cameras to work out good places to try to film some of these animals with the ‘proper’ camera in the summer with the lighter evenings but some of the footage has been so interesting I’ve included it in this film.
It’s been great to get out with the cameras over this long, miserable winter although I haven’t ventured too far from home, I look forward to the lockdown easing and being able to travel further along the coast road and visit the beautiful beaches of Wells & Holkham again soon.
So here’s the film, Spring is virtually here and I can’t wait!
With everywhere in lockdown until Spring and holiday properties sat empty, now would be a great time to have your holiday let promotional images refreshed.
For the duration of February 2021 I am offering a 25% discount on my holiday property photography (and video) prices.
The BBC recently ran a story predicting a boom in ‘staycations’ this year as many people will still be unwilling to travel abroad. Holiday let bookings will see a marked increase as people flood to North Norfolk for an amazing break at the coast and if your property isn’t looking it’s best on all of your marketing material then you may not be first choice.
If your website features out of date/blurry/dull/iphone images it isn’t going to encourage people to book. High quality, sharp, bright, professional images, send a message – a message that you care about quality, that the property is going to be clean, well maintained and inspires confidence in potential clients. It’s proven that properties that have professional photos are booked quicker and command a higher price than just throwing up some pics shot on an iphone.
Interiors – Over the last 15 years I have developed a system for photographing interiors to ensure they look bright, spacious & welcoming. Whether it’s a country mansion or a cosy shepherd’s hut, the key is to capture the atmosphere and ensure that interested clients can imagine themselves spending time there. I generally aim to shoot rooms from at least two different angles and (using a combination of the very best wide-angle lenses, long exposures and a hint of balanced bounce-flash) maintain natural colours to show off the spaces.
Details – Often a wide shot isn’t enough to fully capture the character of a property so I make sure I spend a little time capturing the details which make each place unique. I often crop these detail shots to a square format as I feel it works well but also means they can be used on Instagram where the little details can really make your property stand out.
Exteriors – It’s important to show the outside spaces, whether that’s just a backyard with a bbq or an expanse of gardens with amazing views across the coast and a hot tub thrown in for good measure. At this time of year many outdoor spaces aren’t looking their best so in this offer I am including a guaranteed revisit price of £50 if you would like me to head back in late Spring/Summer to get some more shots of the exteriors when the trees are in leaf and flowers are out.
Aerial Images – As a holder of UK CAA Operational Authorisation I am able to offer aerial photos of the property included in the cost. Many Norfolk properties are situated in amazing locations so whether it’s surrounded by farmland or close to the coast, a few drone shots can show your potential clients the exact location and proximity to amenities/beaches, etc.
Files – Since most holiday properties use a keysafe I am happy to let myself into a property and work alone to get the shots required. Images are then processed within 48 hours and supplied as fully finished, high-resolution images files via a Dropbox link. I can also supply a folder of web-sized images ready for use on your website or social media without any need to resize.
Online gallery – I include an online preview gallery hosted on my website to allow you to quickly & easily see all of the files. My online property gallery is here – Norfolk Property Photography.
No usage restrictions – All images supplied are yours to use as you wish, I don’t have any licensing restrictions (although if images are submitted for online/print publication I would ask they they are credited to christaylorphoto.co.uk).
Travel fee – the only potential extra cost on top of the shoot fee is a travel fee for properties more than 15 miles from Sheringham. The charge is 50p per mile for the round trip.
My usual hourly rate is £250+vat per hour but with the February discount the hourly rate is just £187.50+vat
I usually allow approximately 1.5hrs for a 2/3 bedroom property, larger properties can take between 2 hours to 4hrs. For really large places I have a half day rate, usually £750+vat but with this offer the half day rate is £562.50+vat
Considering the increase in booking numbers and potential increased property booking fees many of my previous clients have said they have found it to be a very worthwhile investment in their business which has boosted bookings, increased turnover and hugely elevated their website/social media profile.
With video becoming a hugely important media these days, both for client engagement and Google ranking points, many clients are also requesting short films of their holiday properties. This can include drone footage and along with captions and music really capture’s the imagination.
The time needed to shoot video footage is usually about the same again that it takes to photograph a property so double time would need to be allowed. The shoot fee includes supply of the raw video footage as clips. If a fully finished, short film, ready for website embedding or social media is required there is an additional edit fee of £75+vat p/h. As an estimate, a two minute long film usually take approx 3hrs to get to the first edit stage.
Examples of my video work can be seen on my Vimeo channel here.
I’ve been lucky enough to photograph for many of North Norfolk’s finest holiday properties including Barn Drift at Cley, Salt at Sheringham, Beachside, Sheringham, The Pigs, Edgefield, Byford’s, Holt, Blakeney House, and many, many more.
To book your holiday property shoot please get in touch either by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01263 821589 / 07941009745
• Norfolk property photographers • Holiday let photography Norfolk • Holiday home photographers • North Norfolk holiday homes • Best property photographers Norfolk •
New Year’s resolutions are all well and good but how many actually last longer than a week, let alone have the ability to change your life?!
About three years ago I discovered ‘Morning Pages’ after it was mentioned in one of Tim Ferris’s brilliant books (can’t remember which one it was now) and it’s made such a huge difference to my life I thought I would share it with anyone that cared to read about it here.
THE BIG IDEA
The idea is that each morning you sit down with a notebook (and a coffee) and just write three pages (longhand) of whatever is in your head. It can be anything, from something that is bugging you, something you would like to achieve or an idea you have had, plans for the day, aspirations, etc – it is a stream of consciousness poured out onto the page.
Literally anything, just sit and write.
Sounds crazy but trust me it is absolutely amazing!
I have come up with many of the ideas for so many of my personal photography & filming projects this way, it has helped me work out what to do in situations where someone or something is causing me issues and it’s an amazing way to start each day, almost feels meditative and leaves me feeling very calm and productive.
In the words of the creator of the concept, Julia Cameron: ‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
Julia Cameron first wrote about Morning Pages in her seminal book – ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and while the book is aimed at those in the creative industry, Morning pages can, and does, work for anyone.
I’ve read loads of self-help/creativity/business books but nothing comes close to the changes that doing Morning Pages (MP) can make to your life. It shuts out the noise, lets you have coherent thoughts and work them through as you write them out on the page. The idea of doing MP first thing in the morning is that it allows you to focus before you wake up too much and start overcrowding your thoughts with all the stuff you need to get done (and it minimises disturbances from phones, etc). It is also said to prevent ‘the ego’ from getting involved.
As Julia Cameron says – Morning Pages isn’t for anyone else’s eyes, in fact once I have written them I have never gone back to re-read what I wrote although I do now add a section at the bottom of each page titled ‘Action Points’ where I list things that I need to do to ensure the ideas I have had that morning can become a reality. Sometimes the action points can be as simple as ‘Create a project planning document’ or ‘Phone my brothers today for a chat’ but other times I have come away from one morning’s writing with 14 different action points to take in order to get a project rolling. It’s like having a brainstorming session with yourself.
One thing Morning Pages has made me realise is that most of the answers to questions I have or problems I am going through are already in my head, I just need to give it the space to think out loud (in writing) and I can come up with the solutions over my morning coffee. The simplicity and power of this process has to be experienced to be believed.
HOW TO DO MORNING PAGES
I have the same routine every morning – wake up, head downstairs, put the kettle on, open the curtains, feed the cats, make a coffee and then sit down at the breakfast bar with my Moleskine notebook and a smooth-writing pen and just write.
I think it’s important to have a notebook that you will enjoy writing in so having tried various brands I always come back to Moleskine. They come in a range of coloured covers, the paper is pleasant to write on (cheaper notebooks can have scratchy, cheap paper), a built in bookmark, elastic to keep them closed, a slim pocket at the back and some stickers to label them. I find the A5 sized, ruled notebooks best. I get mine on Amazon here.
My favourite pens for the last few years have been the Uniball Signo Gel Grip pens (0.7mm tip), I buy them by the box-load from Amazon in blue and black here.
One other useful accessory is an elastic loop to keep the pen with the notebook, the best value option I have found is the pack of 5 on Amazon again here.
…and then I just take in the silence and write. Sometimes it’s a struggle to know what to write so I just write about what I’m planning that day, the weather, etc and after a bit of a ramble I find my flow and I’m off – developing ideas, working through problems, writing about hopes and dreams and how I can work towards achieving them. It may take a couple of attempts at doing morning pages to get into the way it works but once you find what works for you there’s no stopping! After finishing my morning pages I definitely have a sense of calmness, order, purpose, determination and creativity, I feel centred, grounded and ready to take on the day.
I’m told doing Morning Pages can also work wonders with calming anxiety too. If something is bothering you – pour it out onto the paper, I find once it’s out of my head I can move past it. It’s like therapy without needing a therapist!
DON’T HAVE TIME?
Well make time! Get up 45 minutes earlier, and don’t rush your Morning Pages, the key is to taking your time, let the words come to the page, you can’t force it. Once you get into the pages and begin to understand their (your) power you will find these could be the most important and productive 45 minutes of your day, every day.
This guy, Chris Winfield has also written a blog about the amazing power of Morning Pages and how to do them, well worth a read as he’s put it better than I could and it’s all very clearly laid out.
Please let me know if you do give Morning Pages a go and the differences it makes for you. I have found it to be so instrumental in driving my life forward on every single level that I just didn’t want to keep it a secret. Everyone should know and do Morning Pages, collectively the world would be a better, more positive, more productive, happier place!
I recently had the privilege of making a film for well-known local artist Sam Thomas (check out his amazing paintings here) and mentioned to him about Morning Pages. Sam totally ran with the idea and says “It’s quick & simple but gives you a key focus. The fact that you do it each and every day means your focus is tuned in to how you are feeling. I am so onboard with Morning Pages and find it useful”
Enjoy the journey, you’ll never look back!
I’ve recently just completed a short film which documents my 2020 here on the North Norfolk coast. While the pandemic does get a brief mention this isn’t about that at all, it’s about the ever changing seasons, the landscape and the wildlife that make North Norfolk so special to me.
From snorkelling on the Norfolk chalk reef to fishing for mackerel, catching brown shrimp, collecting samphire, sailing in the saltmarsh creeks with the Coastal Exploration Company and filming the Force 11 storm. This film showcases my favourite places on the North Norfolk coast including Blakeney Point, Cromer, Sheringham, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Morston, Cley and much more.
With a narration to explain the various events and scenes I hope you will find this an entertaining snapshot of what makes North Norfolk such a unique place.
It’s been an eventful week round here with very destructive 70mph winds causing a fair bit of destruction all along the North Norfolk coast. Hundreds of trees were blown down, Blakeney Point saw previously unseen numbers of (unoccupied) moored boats being capsized and/or sunk and we had some seriously large waves battering the beaches. Luckily it was during neap tides so there was minimal flooding, if this had hit during a flood tide then we could have seen serious tidal storm surges which could have been much worse.
Before the storms hit we had a call-out on the lifeboat at 2am on Thursday morning to a yacht which had intentionally run aground off Salthouse. With 4 persons on board they had lost engine power and with the storm imminent and a moderate swell the skipper made the wise choice to run the yacht aground rather than trying to battle on. By running the boat up the shore the skipper got his crew off the boat onto the beach before leaving himself. Along with the coastguard shore teams we managed to locate them and they were taken in at a local pub and managed to get warm, dry & fed. The skipper’s swift actions that night saved the lives of all on board.
The next morning the swell had dropped and we had a small window before the huge storms were due to hit to see if we could still rescue the yacht. I collected the skipper and one of his crew from the pub and we drove back to Salthouse to check the state of the yacht and see if we could find someone with machinery able to pull the 12 ton vessel far enough up the beach to get her clear of the forecast 12ft swell and Force 11 northerly which was due to hit that night.
Sadly when we arrived the boat was already being battered by 3-4ft waves which, while not very big, were rocking the boat violently making it very dangerous to get near so there was no way we could have safely got a rope attached. We could also see that some of the hull planks had already come loose and the boat had taken on quite a lot of water. With the tide coming in all we could do was try to salvage some of the bits that were being washed back into the beach while the rest was floating off in a slick of wood & plastic on the flood tide towards Sheringham. I’ve since spoken to local fishermen who were off that morning and saw the deck roof & all sorts of other debris come floating past them while they were hauling their pots.
We arrived at 10am (above top left) and by 10:55am (above, bottom right) the boat was in pieces, it was heartbreaking to see, I really felt for the skipper who had spent the last 3 months renovating her for his father as a lockdown project.
Later that afternoon I headed back to see if I could salvage any other bits for the crew and all that remained were the engine (below) and the mast in a horrendous tangle of rigging. I managed to recover a couple of brass portholes, some tackle from the rigging and the first mate’s Macbook, battered & full of saltwater but at least he had it back in his possession now.
On Friday I decided to head out with a camera to film the extreme weather, with the rain lashing down and sea spray filling the air I took the precaution of putting the camera in the underwater housing so at least I didn’t need to worry about damage to the equipment.
Below are some shots and the short film I made capturing the weather at Sheringham and Cromer. A lot of people watching the film have said I was mad to go out in it & some suggested I was reckless but at no point did I put myself in direct danger. The wind was Northerly so while on the coastal path the wind was blowing inland and not over the edge of the cliffs (although the next day the swirling winds did actually result in that). At Cromer I ventured onto the pier, again this was wet & wild but it wasn’t dangerous, the pier is very secure and at no time did I lean over the edge or go anywhere that the waves could have taken me into the water.
I’m not a huge fan of being on camera myself but sometimes I think it helps with the narrative of a film and can add some interest between the storytelling shots so with a Gopro mounted on top of the underwater housing I also did some pieces to camera to explain the situation. It was the strongest wind I can ever remember trying to walk in and blew the glasses right off my face twice. Enjoy the crazy weather from your warm, dry home!
• Storm • north norfolk • extreme weather • sheringham • cromer • big waves
I received some great news a few weeks ago when I was informed that my image of the Sheringham Primary School children with the huge rainbow had been selected for the final 100 images for the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Hold Still’ project – https://www.npg.org.uk/hold-still/
Selected by a board which included HRH The Duchess of Cambridge from over 31,000 entries it is a huge honour to have the shot recognised but of course all I did was turn up & take the photo. The credit for this goes to the children and staff at Sheringham Primary who thought of the idea and carried it out beautifully.
The project has had some amazing publicity this week with the shot being shown in every BBC News broadcast nationally and on BBC Breakfast TV, plus appearing in many national papers & online versions and even Vogue magazine! Links to a few below….