The news that some 1,500 tonnes of timber was washed off the deck of a Russian cargo ship the Sinegorsk in the English Channel this weekend comes as a timely reminder of the dangers to small craft (and even some bigger ships) of floating debris at sea, particularly at this time of year when bad weather can cause the loss of cargo overboard either directly due to storm action or because ships are forced to jettison part of their load.
It is not uncommon to find entire oak trees floating in the ocean, not to mention the danger of 20ft or bigger containers and other loads that will float in water. In the days when all ships were wooden it was a very real hazard and still is for pleasure craft, trawlers and small coasters.
Photo shows lose containers on the container vessel MSC Napoli from which over 100 containers were lost overboard and washed up on Devon beaches in the UK.
We still don't know exactly what sank the Irish sail training vessel Asgard II in the Bay of Biscay last year but it is possible that she hit or was hit by a log or other large item in the water - even dead whales can pose a risk.
Coast Guards and shipping do keep an eye out for large objects so that they can be removed, towed away or have a marking beacon placed on them and it is recommended that anyone seeing such an object at sea or close to a port should report it to the relevan coast guard or police service - you could be saving lives.