Porthleven began returning to normal this week after its harbour master started refilling the empty harbour with boats.

The water has been empty of vessels since the middle of February – the first time it had been totally cleared since 1903.

It was as a result of storm damage to the harbour, caused by huge waves breaking and washing away the baulk defences. This led to three boats being unsalvageable and ten sunk in total.

To prevent any more being lost, harbour master Phil Ward ordered the harbour to be emptied and the boats have been on dry land ever since.

Sixteen of the smaller vessels were the first to be returned, last Thursday and Friday, with the larger ones due to be craned in tomorrow and the remainder likely to be floated in May once owners have finished repainting and restoration works.

Phil has been overseeing the return of the boats. “To see the harbour with no boats in at all was horrible. It’s nice to see some boats back in,” he said Porthleven Fishermen’s Association is paying for the boats to be returned, thanks to fundraising carried out in the community following the storms, which raised more than £15,000.

Mr Ward said: “I’d like to thank everybody for what they have done over the last couple of months, with the fundraising and the clean up. To see the community come together really was good.

“I just hope we have a nice summer and it stays dry right through until at least Christmas!”

While the harbour has been empty it has given Porthleven Harbour & Dock Company the chance to make repairs, including to some of the giant stones that were washed out of position by the powerful storm waves – despite the lightest of them weighing three quarters of a ton and the largest around 2.5 tonnes.

A hole under the jetty has also been repaired and workers will now begin the maintenance work.

With the first of the boats now back in the water, it leaves room for the marquees to be put up ahead of this year’s Porthleven Food and Music Festival, on Saturday, April 26.