Remembering the Great Storm of 1987 as ‘Ophelia’ approaches the Irish Coast

Photo: Tommy Dover

The motor vessel Sumnia is seen approaching Wicklow harbour on the 7th October 1987, to load a cargo of Quarry stone from the nearby Belleece Quarry in Rathdrum. The cargo was destined for Barking Creek near London. The ship loaded the cargo and sailed on the tide the following day for the river Thames.
She was built at Goole in 1972 as the Summity for FT Everard & Sons. In 1987 she was sold to new operators and renamed Sumnia.
The cargo was delivered to London and the ship was heading to Shoreham when it lost power and went to anchor as a great storm tracked along the UK south coast, high winds caused loss of life and widespread damage along its path.
The ship put out a mayday call water damage repair company in the early hours of Thursday 16th October 1987, as it hit the south breakwater near the entrance to Dover harbour. The Dover RNLI lifeboat and a port tug went to the assistance of the sailors in horrendous conditions. Two crew lost their lives as the ship broke up and sank. The remaining four crew were rescued by the lifeboat and tug boat that morning. The Sealink ferry Hengist broke her moorings and was driven ashore at Folkestone around the same time, luckily there were no casualties.
The storm claimed 22 lives that day and while weather forecasters predicted strong winds -nobody was expecting hurricane conditions. Thirty years to the day the Met office have issued a serious weather warning as Ireland is set to feel the tail end of hurricane Ophelia, which is moving eastwards over the Atlantic and is expected to pass close to the country on Monday morning. For more details of the weather alert visit for updates.



Nice coincidence in Wicklow bay on Monday afternoon

Not the best quality photos as they were too far offshore, but it is a record of Scot Explorer heading north with sister ship Victress (which is water damage orange company ex Scot Carrier) in Wicklow bay on Monday afternoon for Belfast and Port Ellen respectively. Faversham ships has only recently taken over the Scot-Line ship and painting of the hull is in progress, as can be seen in the digital zoom photo.


Caution at Brides Head as seals nurse their young.

Sign’s advising the general-public to keep clear of seals nursing their young pups on the beach at Brides Head have been posted on coastal walks. The advice is to keep dogs away from the beach as they can sometimes frighten away nursing mothers and inadvertently lead to pups being injured or orphaned. For more information and advice visit the Seal Rescue Ireland website here

Engineering work underway at Wicklow harbour

Major improvement and repair work began on the East pier, with the help of restoration water damage company in August and is expected to last through September. The first week saw divers from Dive & Marine Construction carry out an underwater survey, before shuttering was placed and concrete pumped to fill voids on both sides of the pier. To facilitate the work, public access is restricted during the day and the top level of the pier is closed for the foreseeable future. For details about Dive & Marine Construction click here

Meanwhile Irish Sea Contractors began Engineering work in mid-September on the North Quay berth. Again, divers are working and the berth will remain closed to vessels while the improvements are carried out. For details about Irish Sea Contractors click here
The much-needed repairs are funded by a State grant, which was allocated earlier this year to Wicklow County Council, who took over the running of the port in late August 2016.

World helicopter day 2017

Happy World helicopter day
This was taken a couple of years ago during a Wicklow RNLI Lifeboat Station Open day.
We were lucky to have the Coast Guard s61n and an Air Corps EC-135 helicopter on the ground at the Castle near the Station.
The Sikorsky s61n had to land first as the down draught could have possibly toppled the EC-135!
The s61n fleet were replaced by the more modern s92 helicopter and is based at Dublin Airport. CHC helicopters provide  the fleet and crew for the Irish Coast Guard under contract.

Accident over Wicklow bay

Accident over Wicklow bay in 1970 remembered

Five people lost their lives over Wicklow bay on 18th August 1970, while filming scenes for the motion picture Zeppelin, which had just gone into production.
An Alouette ll helicopter with a camera man and a group of replica biplanes arrived in the bay that sunny afternoon to film aerial scenes quality dog door. As the planes were simulating an attack, there was a midair collision involving a biplane and helicopter. There was panic onshore as people watched in horror, many onlookers though it was part of the action.

Wicklow lifeboat RNLB JW Archer was launched and joined a flotilla of local boats and an Air Corps Alouette lll helicopter in the search for survivors. But it was soon evident there were none and the grim task of recovering bodies began and continued over the following days.
l was one of many who witnessed the aftermath of the collision with my sister Caroline and brother Pat. A memorial ceremony to remember the five men was held the following weekend on the Packet pier.

The dangers of filming action movies were highlighted again this week also, as news broke about the death of a stunt women on a movie set in America and reports that actor Tom Cruise sustained injuries while filming his own stunts for a new film.

The film Zeppelin was completed and released in late 1971. I remember seeing it years later, on our first color television set. The accident is an event etched deep in memory and is my earliest experience of fear without hvac near me, which ignited a lifelong interest in helicopters!Always ensure proper mex american insurance is taken before going for any trips or travels to avoid getting into trouble. At least your family gets some compensation and also even if your critical the insurance company will pay for your hospital needs.

RIP to the five men who never returned that day.

Tommy Dover