Warning for Trinidad too
By JANELLE DE SOUZA and KARL E CUPID Wednesday, January 16 2013
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SUN AND SAND BUT NO SEA: Sun, Sea and Sand, the saying goes. But for these two women there was no sea as they were forced to spend yesterday reading a...
THE Rough Seas warning issued by the Office of Disaster and Preparedness (ODPM) on Monday, not only applies to Tobago — the scene of monster waves — but the North Coast of Trinidad as well.
According to an ODPM official, while Tobago was affected to a greater degree, wave action increased significantly on Monday afternoon in Trinidad from Matelot to Toco. He said fishermen were given advanced warning and so many secured their boats to prevent damage.
Maracas fisherman, Patrick Bharath, told Newsday many boats were damaged by the rough waters and larger than usual waves. Bharath said boats were destroyed when they ran aground, including a large, 50-foot vessel. In addition, several boats capsized, and boat engines were damaged over the past two days.
“We saw the changes in the sea but didn’t realise it would be that bad, and so many fishermen didn’t pull up their boats. Today (yesterday), no one is actually fishing but those who had nets outside made the sacrifice and went back for them as the water is much better than Monday,” said Bharath.
Augustus Silvester, Patrol Captain at the Maracas Bay Lifeguard Headquarters concurred saying the sea was still moderate to rough with swells about one metre high. However, he said, it was “far better” than Monday and had improved further by yesterday afternoon.
“This is the season for rough waters so no one should expect calm conditions. Therefore, today (yesterday), we could say Maracas is almost at normal conditions (for the season). In fact, this afternoon it is even more calm than it was this morning,” said Silvester.
Despite the conditions, Silvester noted that the beaches on the North Coast were not closed down. Instead, lifeguards advised bathers to be careful, and stay in shallow waters.
Meanwhile, although there were “No Bathing” signs, Mt Irvine was a scene of peace and calm yesterday in stark contrast to Monday’s ferocious pounding of the bay and surrounding beaches by monster waves, which left a trail of destruction including a smashed yacht smashed and sunken boats. While the waves had subsided somewhat, the sea was still choppy with a strong undercurrent, and the beach, like others along Tobago’s northern/western coastline, remained closed yesterday.
Not to be deterred however, a number of visitors despite not being able to bathe, used the opportunity to get a sun tan at the popular beach, with three young male visitors engaging in some drumming when Newsday visited.
The more adventurous surfers were also out riding the powerful waves, as a few of them did on Monday. Debris strewn along the roadway in the area had been cleared by Fire Service personnel.
Meanwhile, however, the four sunken fibre-glass fishing pirogues, complete with outboard-engines attached, or what is left of the boats, remained submerged. No attempt was made to salvage them up to yesterday afternoon. It is feared, however, that these boats may have been severely damaged or altogether destroyed, as a piece of one of the sunken boats washed ashore on the nearby Grange Bay, regulars at Mt Irvine explained. Life-guards pointed out that it was hazardous for bathing as debris, including pieces of boards with nails, steel and other sharp objects from a building construction site along the beachfront, as well as large boulders and other dislodged fragmented rocks, were deposited on the sea bed and along the shoreline. The current in the bay is still quite strong, they explained.
There was, however, no word on the question of an official response from the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) Tourism Division in the aftermath of the incident. Several attempts to contact senior officials of the Division were unsuccessful, and it could not be ascertained whether an official assessment of the situation had been carried out by the authorities.