A port in Brittany was emptied of water overnight after the door to the area was left open, causing considerable damage to the 400 boats moored inside.
The unprecedented incident took place last week (January 4) at the Perros-Guirec harbour in Cotes-d’Armor, Brittany. Just one metre of water was left by the time the mistake was noticed.
It was found to have been caused by the door of the port having been left open, allowing the water to flow back into the sea. The door is usually opened at high tide, to allow boats to leave, and must be closed again at low tide and overnight.
The incident was saved from being even worse by a young couple, Tyffanie and Titouan, who were sleeping on their boat, the Ohana, in the port. The two woke up in the night and noticed the problem.
The young man, a trainee technician, then entered the port hut (where the light had been left on), and managed to close the port door himself.
The couple also alerted the gendarmerie and local town services to the issue.
One boat owner told Actu.fr: “I’m really angry because this is completely mad. A friend called me at 3am telling me that the port was emptying. The door had been left open. I get to the port, I see masts tangled up, boats leaning against the jetty…chaos. It’s embarrassing; a scandal.”
He and a number of other boat owners hailed the young man who managed to close the door as a “hero”.
Another owner said: “I slept on the port, but I only found out what was happening when I woke up. The tide was high so there was some water, but I saw that something [strange] had happened from the angle of some of the boats.”
Port co-manager, Yannick Cuvillier, who was not on duty at the time of the incident, also thanked the man, and said: “The worker on duty left for the night, and forgot to close the door. He will have to explain himself.”
The local mairie has now requested that boat owners contact the port capitainerie (management) to report any damage. At least one boat had its hull damaged, and two jetties will require repair.
A spokesperson said that a specialised boat crane would be made available free of charge to any boat owner who needed it.
An alarm is now set to be installed in the port to stop the same problem from happening again.