THE boat which carries sightseers and bird-lovers to the Bass Rock was destroyed in the weekend storms which lashed the East Lothian coast.
A high tide and strong winds in the early hours of Saturday morning resulted in a 15-metre stretch of the harbour wall at North Berwick being washed away and more than ten boats being destroyed, while the nearby Scottish Seabird Centre also suffered extensive flooding.
The destruction is a further blow to the community already reeling from the death of the man who operated the ferry, Chris Marr, and the burning down of the town fire station in recent weeks.
Marr, 66, the former operator of the famous Bass Rock ferry, died in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after being found with serious head injuries on the Westgate section of the town’s High Street on December 9.
His boat, Girl Pat, which had been dry docked for winter, was swept away by the storm surge and smashed against a railing causing substantial damage to the starboard side.
Local councillor and boatman David Berry, who was “a good friend” of Mr Marr, said: “This storm is another blow for the town so soon after Chris’ death and the loss of the fire station. The fact his boat has been damaged will hit locals hard, and I hope that it is salvageable. Although the damage looks bad at the moment, it could have been a lot worse. It will take a few days to catalogue all the damage.
“In terms of the harbour wall some temporary patch must be found because leaving it in its vulnerable, torn-open state only invites more damage.”
More storm surges are expected later this week and as a result East Lothian Council has moved to swiftly implement an emergency repair, with concrete being poured in yesterday followed by numerous one tonne sandbags being hoisted into place.
It is understood that the harbour wall was swept away shortly after 3am on Saturday. The onrushing water then dumped a 40ft container into the harbour where more than 50 yachts and dinghies were either moored or tied down on the Esplanade. The container had been placed on the pier for use by a local fisherman.
All of these boats were flooded and buffeted by the waves, although tie-downs installed following the last big storm in 2010 helped to lessen the damage suffered.
Staff at the Scottish Seabird Centre worked overnight on Saturday to reopen the facility within just 24 hours after the basement, exhibit area and cinema were flooded.
Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, praised workers for their “extensive clean-up operation” before calling for a more long-term solution to be implemented to deal with the recurrent flooding problem.