DESTRUCTION: Clayton Livingston transported dozens of sailors to to their boats following the storm.
DESTRUCTION: Clayton Livingston transported dozens of sailors to to their boats following the storm. Trevor Veale

How sailors weathered the storm

SAILORS recalled the fearful night aboard their boats in the Coffs Harbour Marina as the East Coast Low ripped through the harbour at the weekend.

The formation of a new low in the early hours of Sunday morning caused David Stringer to carry out an evacuation plan.

David said about 10 sailors huddled in the one boat until around 4am when Marine Rescue and the SES got them to safety.

"We were watching the marina fall apart around us, all the concrete docks were just falling away," he said.

Andrew Benson was one of the few sailors who stayed on his boat for the duration of the tumultuous storm.

He said "it felt incredibly surreal" to witness the destruction from his boat as one rogue wave as tall as the lighting post crashed onto the boardwalk.

"Just watching large structure get absolutely buckled, it didn't seem real," he said.

"It was amazing to watch that first wave that took out the catamaran."

After 36 hours of no sleep, Mr Benson was pleased to be going home on Monday for the first time since Saturday morning.

"All day yesterday, it felt like I'd been away for a week, there was so much that had happened."

Among those sailors with no rest was Clayton Livingston, who for nearly 48 hours straight transported sailors back to their boats as all access points were destroyed by the storm.

Marina manager Elise Curry said the damage to the marina wouldn't have happened if the breakwall and upgrades were completed sooner.

"It's understood that the breakwall has been compromised for some years. It should never have happened what happened," Ms Curry said.

"It is an old marina and we have been in negotiations for many years to move forward with it but its been stalled and stalled and stalled again. It's an issue."



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