Porthleven attracts hundreds of wave watchers

The storms in which Porthleven has been subjected to has attracted the attention of the national and international media as well as our own local media outlets. No-one will forget the sight of boats becoming overwhelmed by the sea and sinking in Porthleven.

So when weather forecasters predicts another mother-of-all storm, the scene is set for people wanting to see how it plays out first hand or via the media.

Friday night the wind steadily got stronger and stronger and continued into Saturday. With high-water set for 11:24 am, the timings of everything happening was ideal for those who wished to watch the sheer power of the sea pound Porthleven. Thankfully Saturday’s high-water was a good metre and a half lower than the tide which do so much damage on Wednesday. It might not sound much, but believe me it is when you add in very strong winds and large waves you do not want a spring-tide.

It is still a strange and eery sight to see the inner harbour without any boats. I am told the last time the inner harbour was completely empty is at least 100 years ago. The date I have heard repeated is 1903. 

Without the protection of the Baulks, the inner harbour was a bubbling cauldron of seawater. Which now free to act, surged through the Gap to pound the inner harbour.

Porthleven's inner harbour and bubbling cauldron of water

Porthleven’s inner harbour a bubbling cauldron of water

As I said before, Porthleven has had a lot of media coverage and with that, I expected a good turn out of wave-watchers. However, I was unprepared for the amount of people who came to watch the sea. Hundreds upon hundreds of people came. So much so, it was hard to find a space to watch the waves. It was not just the public who came to watch the seas as you could almost trip over the number of film crews filming. At one stage a helicopter  – with camera ball – was flying low-level around Porthleven.

With the large numbers of people who travelled to Porthleven, it was hardly surprising the road network would struggle; especially as the Porthleven Road is closed due to major repairs. This resulted in the Police restricting access to Porthleven for a period of time due to the numbers of vehicles trying to get in and out of Porthleven.

Taking unnecessary risks for the perfect picture

Taking unnecessary risks for the perfect picture – credit to my friend Miguel Belert for use of picture.

Furthermore,  for safety reasons, the Police and Coastguards stopped access to some of the more exposed roads in Porthleven. Safety while watching the waves is paramount. Most people understood the danger of the sea and the power of those huge waves and acted accordingly. However,  these two people decided to take unnecessary risks to get that ‘perfect picture.’

Luckily, no-one came to harm, but when it does go horribly wrong – which has happen recently – and that risk does not pay off, and the Coastguards, RNLI, 771 SAR and other emergency services put their lives at risk to save you. Watch the waves, but please do this from a safe distance.

High-water arrived, with the seas battering Porthleven’s harbour and buildings. The iconic building, the Bickford-Smith Institute that has stood proud for 130 years, definitely stood against the sea; no matter what the sea could muster and throw at this building. And boy, it has had some huge storms and waves smash into it over the century.

Bickford-Smith Institute stands proud for 130 years

Bickford-Smith Institute stands proud for 130 years

The best picture I took of the day was of a local resident; who with a great sense of humour was holding up a sign in reference to the parking problems that had arisen due to the numbers of people visiting Porthleven, and trying to find somewhere to park. It really made me smile.



It might not be over either, as more stormy weather is forecast for next week. You got to wonder how much longer can coastal areas like Porthleven can withstand without more serious damage the continuing onslaught of the sea.


  • Bernie Pettersen

    Andrew, a brilliant read, and very informative. Please would you allow me permission to screen grab this article and use it in full as part of a discussion on media, media safety awareness and media affects within a small community ? Thank you, kind regards. Bernie Pettersen (Helston).

  • Andrew Wallis

    Sure, help yourself.

  • Bernie Pettersen

    Sorry for the delay in my reply, I’ve been out north of the Tamar…. Glad to be back! Thank you for granting me free permission to use this page for discussion etc ….. Love the images, especially the gent with the parking sign…. Guess it could be titled ‘ storm and a teacup’. Ha ha! Thanks once more. Bernie.

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