Anyone who read our previous blogs on the Weymouth Harbour wall repairs will assume the works finished on 23rd December last year. However, unforeseen problems in the pile driving phase caused delays. These prevented some overlapping tasks, which may now stretch until mid February. It is helpful to compare pile driving to archeology – one never really know what’s down there!
At the time of writing (11th January), remaining works included the last capping beam concrete pour and replacing the Ferry Steps. Then there are – levelling, making good, reinstating safety railings, resurfacing and clearing the site. We hope to add a few photos in later updates to this post during these concluding works, as they arise. We may be able to add a short video clip of the finished result. Then we shall be back to blogs about visiting luxury superyachts, Naval vessels, Tall Ships and Harbourside events, such as the Seafood Festival.
Updates (after 11th January)
Update on 15th January: Yesterday’s storm (Brendan) slowed work on the site but more backfilling and welder-cutting for pipe egress was attempted. The wind was swaying the crane alarmingly and work had to be halted in the afternoon. (No pictures – far too wet and windy!)
The air temperature for the Charity Swim was about 10 degC, also the water temperature (according to google – Alexa). There was very little breeze but the shock of hitting cold water exposed several swimmers to cramps, “brain-freeze” and some muscle injuries (including Mark – Wobbly Fish). There were 471 competitors in 9 heats and upwards of 20,000 spectators watched till the end. The Christmas Day Swim raised £1000’s for Charity (plus not a few goosebumps). (See our YouTube Channel for other videos).
There was due to be a fourth member of the Wall family undetaking the swim but an unfortunate “illness” overtook Karl the night before (early “brain freeze”). We are hoping to get Claire to have a go next year…..
Very quickly, the piling rig was then fitted with piling guides and another 6 piles were lowered into position. Ancillary work onvolved spot-welding and cutting where the “ears” of the “staples” were deformed and manually “knocking” the piles into alignment, against the wind and crane movements till they could slide smoothly into place. Below is a “sequence” (actually compiled from 2 adjacent pile emplacements).
Note the occasional transient excursion in vibration records below. In this example, the peak-to-peak transient was approximately + 50 to – 80 mGal, or about MMI 4 (possible damage). Peak-to-peak the gap was about 130 mGal – or MMI 5 (persons may lose balance, significant building damage) – BUT – it was only a transient, not continuous, not repeated many times and not resonant – so no observable damage likely. Also note, our measurements are NOT accurate, NOT ground displacement figures and NOT directly relatable to MMI values. MMI itself is a scale more usually associated with earthquake events (running from 1 – no effects, to 12 – total destruction). We only use these results as rough indicators.
We shall not bore you with another series of vibration graphs – just some typical data as the crew near completion of the piling stage (about 12 metres distant).
As with the vibration graphs, the sound level graphs are NOT accurate and depend significantly on factors such as microphone quality, sampling rate and software rendering. As a very rough guideline, the sound and vibrations are disturbingly loud indoors and sufficient to dislodge some items from shelves, rattle toilet seats, windows, doors, floorboards and plumbing against fixings. However, we see no significant damage yet.
Before commencing the Harbour Wall repairs, it was necessary to establish the existing condition – of the wall and nearbyconstructions and busines premises. There was a preliminary survey in several phases. This was carried out prior to work commencing (30th September) with a main aim of checking external condition of nearby buildings. This would enable any damage caused by pile-driving and related operations to be determined
The next phase of Harbour Wall repairs was to demolish the old storage and sales kiosk, built above the waling beam next to the Ferry Steps. Initially, the building was shrouded in temporary sheeting, checking for and removing any potentially hazardous materials. Then the “JCB” moved in a flattened the site in short order.
The main work involved pile-driving new sheet piles about 0.5m from the existing wall surface profile, about 18m into the subsoil. Originally, it was suggested a 4.5 Tonne hammer would be used to start the piles into position, followed by a more substantial (45 tonne?) ship-mounted hammer to drive the piles fully home. We have no specific information (as public) but we think the current hammer is a half-tonne hydraulic type – the noise is quite substantial and vibrations presently lie around 20 – 50 milliGals.
The piles will be cut as needed for drainage and tie-rod fixings. The gap will be back-filled with reinforced concrete, with ancillary works to fix in new sections of waling beam. The whole project is being (part?) funded from a £1.9 million Coastal Regeneration Scheme opening the way for the Harbourside Redevelopment Scheme(ca £3.3million?). When the repairs are completed, there are plans for new Harbourmaster and fishing buildings plus a scenic walkway around the Peninsula perimeter. Any flood defences would be funded from a different scheme.
Discussions of vibrations arising from pile driving and consequent effects on nearby structures tend to get a bit complex. In very general terms, ground displacements of 2mm/sec or more poses some risk of minor damage to older buildings (such as Listed Grade 2 Aaran House), while displacements above about 5mm/sec may cause significant damage. Hammer weights about 0.5 Tonne and frequencies about 1/sec tend to fall into the range of MMI (Modified Mercalli Index) 3 (noticeable but very little damage) while “heavier” impacts and higher frequencies can push perceived effects up to MMI 4 (minor damage) or even MMI 5 (significant damage, difficulty maintaining balance). The Council advised us to close for the duration and we took their advice.
Above, we see a few graphs of accelerometer readings vs time, during the early weeks of pile driving. Note the acceleraometer was not too accurate or sensitive and the sampling rate was low – which may cause some peaks to be “missed”. Using the archaic non-SI unit, the Gal, we can see background levels around 2 milliGal, rising to around 50 milliGal, as the operations got nearer. There is no easy relationship between Gals and mm/sec ground displacements but the MMI scale would suggest 30 to 50 milliGal = MMI 3, roughly. We have observed only slight plaster cracking and a little dust fall.
Closure of Esplanade to Custom House Quay road and pavement junction
Meantime, up to 2,000 pedestrians per day and 100’s of motorists are “visiting” the site, at least as far as the road closure next to The Roundhouse b&b. It is quite amusing to see all those stern faces crumple into astonishment when they find out a half-dozen “road closed” and “diversion” signs were not just dumped for fun and the road into Custom House Quay really is closed (6 weeks till now: another 6 weeks to go approximately).
The Council (DCC, formerly WPBC) have advised the nearest properties to close during the period of works, for safety, noise and disruption reasons. Hence, we are closed (since 1st October) till the Christmas period (scheduled completion 23rd December). We are hoping for compensation due to business interruption.
Reopening in 2020 – early in January
We apologise for any inconvenience to guests who would have wished to book our guesthouse this autumn, but the works were essential and closure was unavoidable. It was only a few years ago a section next to Condor Ferry Berth collapsed. Allegedly that was in relatively sound condition compared to the current repair section. Of course, public safety is paramount and works have continued as rapidly as feasible. We thank all our guests for visiting us in the past and we hope to see you all again next year. Happy Holidays!
We were alerted to an event going on behind Aaran Guesthouse on 31st August by the booming voice of Steve Davies, Weymouth’s noted commentator. We emerged to find a raft race, between crews, mainly in fancy dress, proceeding from the Ferry Steps behind us to the steps on the opposite bank. There were about 8 crews: For us, the Vikings stood out, with sneaky tactics of squirting bale-out water over rival crews as they paddled nearby.
On the far bank was a welcoming committee, including a small dinosaur. About 100 people watched the event, which had all the flavour of a typical Weymouth activity – eccentric, fun and something always happening. We searched afterward for news online but could find none. We imagine the race may have been connected with RNLI Charity events concurrent in Bridport/West Bay and Poole. Anyway, it was a fun and interesting diversion from cleaning the kitchen (again!)
Weymouth Lifeboat Station was opended 150 years ago and this year, the event was celebrated with a flotilla of lifeboats through the ages. This took place right behind Aaran Guesthouse, in Weymouth Harbour, so we were well placed to view the parade of boats. Yet another Weymouth Harbour event.
As “spy drones” go, this was a somewhat noisy affair. One could imagine Taliban fighters (etc) spotting the machine and shooting it out of skies within a few seconds of deployment. Onlookers noted a level of “dissatisfaction” among the populations of rooftop gulls, rooks and crows, during its flight pattern. We do not know whether militarised spy drones are quieter, but we hope so. It was difficult to determine the drone manufacturer nor make of camera carried, but the latter appeared similar to Canon-style video devices in common use. Flight times were about an hour each, in several sessions. Today, 17th, the Pavilion Theatre is under survey. This was a distinctly unusual instance of “sights in Weymouth Harbour“.
As for the Harbour Wall repairs, these start 30th September and last for several weeks, until early December. Preparatory works will lead onto reverberatory pile driving, followed by percussive piledriving, finishing and making good works. It is expected most of the nearby guesthouses, including ourselves, will close during these works, for reasons of noise, access and safety. We hope our respective guests will bear with us and come back afterwards, to enjoy our hospitality, perhaps in the Christmas Season or New Year.
We popped out and took a few images (gallery above) around Aaran Guesthouse, on the Northern side of the Harbour. Some of our guests wandered as far as Hope Square and reported live music bands and many more stalls along the Cove Row side of the Harbour. Over 40 food specialists displayed their wares, from the Pavilion Theatre forecourt, down the harbourside to the Town Bridge and back along Cove Row towards Hope Square. Numerous other stalls could be seen, dotted among the main displays and in a few of the Guesthouse rear yards (e.g. The Gloucester at The Lantana). Not forgetting, numerous permanent Pubs and Restaurants, serving great seafood all year round (e.g. Ship, George, Enfants Terrible)
The weather over the weekend was warm, with sunny spells and a light breeze – much appreciated while sitting enjoying the food and the scenery outside the Harbourside pubs. Tens of thousands of visitors crowded the Harbour, looking for the ideal meal among the many options. We spotted crispy squid, “experimental” marmalades (eg. carrot, parsnip, etc), crepes, specialist gin, oysters, Thai Cuisine, Paella, Chimonea-fired pizza, Organic Farm produce, local cheeses, produce from The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight, as well as some “usual suspects” – Weird Fish, CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) and no less than THREE cooking stages, with famous chefs showing their skills and tips for the public. A great day for exploring with this afternoon (Sunday) still to go…
Hard8 is a Sunseeker luxury motor yacht of the 86 Class. Launched in 2017, she is estimated to be worth £4.25Million. There are four cabins in sumptious decor with accommodation for two crew members. She has a foredeck, aft deck, flybridge and a bespoke hard-top cover for inclement weather. Hard8 is powered by twin 500HP diesel engines and is capable of reaching 30 knots. She is just one of the many sights of Weymouth Harbour.
At a slightly more modest scale, we also like the cross-harbour Rowboat Ferry, which has been running for decades between the Melcombe Regis wall and Weymouth’s Nothe Fort steps.
The Bristolian is a modern super-yacht, built by Yachting Developments, Auckland, New Zealand. She has an epoxy-bound kevlar/carbon fibre composite laminate hull and glass reinforced plastic superstructure. The superyacht dates from 2008 and is 37m long and over 120 feet tall. The yacht accommodates 6 passengers and 6 crew. MMSI number is 235096432 and call sign is 2GDJ5. Cruising speed is 13 knots and the yacht is truly a breath of ocean-going luxury. The International Superyacht Society awarded Bristolian “Best in 24 – 40m class” in 2009. Overheard in conversation when moored in Weymouth, the recent refit may have cost as much as £8.4million! Allegedly, the yacht is currently for sale for approximately £18 million.
Superyacht Bristolian Stern view
It’s difficult to grasp just how very tall this ship is – but we tried. The mast reaches many metres above out 5-storey building, for example. Even crows would be dizzy trying to reach that crow’s nest!
Superyacht Bristolian Mast view