THEY battened down the hatches across West Dorset as 2014 crashed in on a wave of violent storms, high winds and sheeting rain.

Following a raft of flood warnings across the county during the past week, sandbags have been delivered to low-lying and harbour communities along the Jurassic coast.

Two boats sank in Lyme Regis harbour after gale force winds and torrential rain slammed into the South West and storm damage to the harbour could also lead to repair work being needed.

Lyme Regis harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw said: “Due to the weather, we forced to move some boats out of the harbour. The water level was quite high within the harbour and the causeway was flooded.

“We also had two boats that were sunk because water had seeped into them. A lot of the bigger boats also moved about a lot and we will probably have to inspect and repair the ground chains because they moved about so much.”

Mr Forshaw said he had been forced to stop people going on to the Cobb during the worst of the weather as they failed to heed advice, warning people to stay away from the seafront.

Mr Forshaw said: “One thing that was exceptional this year was the water pouring over the high wall at the back.

“It was quite impressive really, it looked like a huge, great waterfall.

“One of the major concerns I had this year was the thrill-seekers who walk along the Cobb. People just don't understand the danger and the weight of the water.

“I was forced on numerous occasions to turn quite a few people away from walking along the Cobb because they kept coming back, and I had to close the Cobb at one point.

“One of the major downsides of the current health and safety culture is people wait to be told that it is dangerous and they shouldn't be doing it, rather than thinking for themselves and using common sense.

“In the past the waves crashing over have pushed cars off into the sea. I urge people to exercise extreme caution when they're on it, and don't go out there unless you really have to, and nobody in this weather has to go out there.”

Lyme Regis coastguards were also called out to two incidents as the huge waves battered Lyme Regis seafront last weekend.

The first incident happened in the early hours of Friday morning after a 999 call was made about an apparently drunken woman in the water at Lyme Regis.

Dorset Police and the Ambulance service attended the scene with the Lyme Regis Coastguard officers, but the woman was led safely out of the sea and was taken home by her husband and passers by.

The second incident happened just before midday on Sunday after a member of the public made a 999 call regarding a kitesurfer in trouble just off the Cobb.

Both the Lyme Regis Coastguards and the RNLI were tasked to investigate an object in the water. Both units conducted a thorough search of the area and found the object in the water to be a water buoy.

Unable to find anything, both units called off the search just around 1pm, and they were later informed by social media that the kitesurfer had been spotted getting out of the water on Charmouth beach.

Graham Turner, Lyme Regis Coastguard Station Officer, said: “This year we have had some of the worst weather I have ever seen off the Cobb.

“There was some massive waves crashing into the Cobb, and they were the highest waves I have seen for a long time.

“Even though there was a few times when people were told off for walking along the Cobb during the worst of the weather, we had no serious issues to go out there and try to find people which is good.

“I think the majority of the public is getting the message to stay away from the Cobb during the worst of the weather and they are all being a bit more sensible, even though there is the occasional person who does try and walk along the Cobb.”

Terry Gilbert, owner of Dolphins River Park in Charmouth, said that his park had been flooded at the weekend.

Mr Gilbert said: “There was quite a lot of water that got into the park after the River Char burst its banks, but thankfully no caravans were lost or damaged.

“It did get quite bad at one point and Berne Lane was completely impassable, even 4x4s couldn't get through it.

“It certainly got very high and at one point the water level was only a foot off the level it was in 2012, and if there had been a couple more hours of rain I am certain it would have got into the caravans.”