Estimates suggest that as many as 80 boats were destroyed and pontoons washed away at Holyhead Marina as Storm Emma hit the north Welsh coastline with violence.
The RNLI said it had to launch its own inshore lifeboat just to get a crew to its larger vessel in Holyhead in Thursday night’s force 12 gale.
“There is considerable damage and disruption at the marina, so, for now, we will stay berthed within the inner harbour, ready to respond – slower than usual, but able – to a shout,” said the RNLI team.
Onlookers took to social media to describe the devastating scenes and post images of the destruction.
One onlooker said, “The marina has been swept away with the wind. There’s five Holyhead towing turbine boats on the rocks costing more than £1m each, plus there’s loads of yachts on the break water.”
Paul Campbell, deputy head of maritime operations for HM Coastguard, said: “Over the past few days our seas have been unforgiving.
“We understand that adverse weather is awe inspiring but the dangers are real and should not be underestimated.
“We cannot stress enough that piers, rocks, harbours and the water’s edge are not safe places to be when the weather is bad – it can be slippery and because there is little to hold onto even a small wave can come out of nowhere and quickly wash you off and into the sea. Equally so, no footage, photograph or selfie is worth risking your life for.”