Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Take me to the Pilot! as the song goes........... Journey into HUMBER

'Take me to the Pilot' as the Elton John song goes...

This journey gave me the opportunity to see the work of the Pilot. Crucial and many ways unrecognised that keeps the shipping industry running smoothly.

The Humberside Launches moored ready work

Due to the support and generosity of Associated British Ports  I got to see the work of the Pilot close and personal. Out from their base in Grimsby in sunny Lincolnshire out to two vessels to drop off the pilot onto a ferry and a pickup from vessel.

Like many of these journeys this one started with another almost sleepless journey down from the West of Scotland to the East coast of Yorkshire to meet up with Colin Shores the skipper of the boat who took me out at Whitby. He is rapidly becoming a Shipping Forecast regular!

The amazing Humber Bridge

The initial destination HULL the current City of Culture who has suffered from being out on a relative limb, but finally getting the recognition as a cultural destination with a rich seam of industrial and maritime heritage.

An example of the forward looking redevelopment of the quay area of the City of Hull

After an afternoon in Hull it was over the architectural marvel of the Humber Bridge to the Grimsby for a seriously needed rest in a 'real bed' before heading the ABP Port office in Grimsby Docks.

The port office building, operational headquarters of the Humber Pilot.

After a briefing on equipment and what to do if I go over the side its out to the launches all kitted up for the ride out into the Humber.

Marine Services Manager Tony Lewis sporting the safety wear for the job.

After a briefing on equipment and what to do if I go over the side its out to the launches all kitted up for the ride out into the Humber.  

I was assured I was in safe hands on Geoff and Gary with other 50 years of experience. With amazing turn of speed we headed out to the ship 
The first journey was take the oncall pilot out to the vessel AutoPrestige to assist them on their entry into the Humber estuary. 

The launch maybe fast and manoeuvrable, but is dwalfed by the most of the ships that it services and only though great skill and experience can the pilot be transferred either on or off these vessels.

Pilot drop off successful and vessel on its way

With throttle opened up we headed of to the next job of the morning to pick up another Pilot , unlike the Auto Prestige and the side opening door this time it was down a rope ladder onto the launch. 

While the launch is pulled alongside the ship, the constant correction to maintain the launches relative position was astonishing.  Another successful pickup and back to the Grimsby quay to put my legs back on dry land.  Luckily the artist has good sea legs, this journey was one rocky ride on what seemed from the quay as relative calm. 
I can only imagine the same tasks carried out in much stormier seas and often in the dark. Only through the amazing attention to detail and the strictest of safety measures that this can of work can be done. The team told me that its those moments of board and leaving these vessels that are the most dangerous and its only concentration and utter professionalism that injury and even death can be avoided.Hats off to these guys and this amazing work!
Back on the shore and a welcome cuppa it was time to make my way back to Grimsby Town centre to start on the multistep journey by train and by bus back home to the Ayrshire coast.
Another interesting and often entertaining trip, with HUMBER under my belt now looking a mammoth one trip journey covering four regions in three days .. The trip to SPAIN.
Hasta luego ! 


Matt Booth,  
Deputy Pilotage Operations Manager Humber 

Tony Lewis, Marine Services Manager

The pilots and crew of Humberside Pilot Service

Management at ABP  Associated British Ports

Special Thanks .. To the top Amigo  Colin Shores .. for ferrying me about, feeding me, providing the shelter on this one.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Back on the water - Choppy water and transport poets TYNE

After some significant time where real life got in the way, at last back out on the water and what a great place to start off the beautiful Yorkshire coast out from a sunny Whitby. 

The plan to head up the coastline towards the hidden gem of the village of Staithes, a significant fishing port at the turn of the 20th Century and once home to a then unknown a young grocer's apprentice, Captain James Cook. 

Most of the journeys start with a packed bag and a train journey out of my home town on the Ayrshire coast on the West coast of Scotland and this was no different. The first leg of the journey took me to Middlesbrough to stay with a friend who took good care of me and a bed for the night before the early start to the coastal town of Whitby. As the train trundled across the Yorkshire moors I was struck by the beauty of the local geography.

The view from the Whitby bound train

On arrival I met up with my generous skipper Colin Shores, semi retired ex car-dealer now found working bliss through painting and decorating. Even though the sky was clear of cloud and the sun was already burning down, Colin advised me that I had picked the worst day in July for getting out onto the water. I was soon to learn a new meaning to the innocuous word"Northerly"  As we headed to the end of the pier to stare out to bobbing yellow buoy, it wasn't looking good.

As we headed back into the marina to talk to the harbour master I was beginning to think "Why today?" After looking out at the daytrippers out on the "pirate ship" in the rollercoaster sea , we decided to go for it and see what happens!

The calmness of Whitby marina on a beautiful July day.

The Sea Shores II in the deceptively calm Whitby harbour.

As we headed out into open water a steady rolling became rollercoaster to bucking bronco in places. Heading out to deeper water and turning North we pitched and rolled, a rough ride that told us one thing that the weather and sea conditions weren't giving up fighting against us. 

Colin, skipper and safe pair of hands.

Where did everything go?

It may seem a beautiful relaxed onshore, but it's important to remember that the sea can be a wild and dangerous place. Feeling that the sea conditions could put us at some risk if we continued to travel further up the coast, Colin expertly manoeuvred the boat back round to head back to the towards the safety of Whitby harbour. 

As we headed back towards Whitby we encountered the crazy people on the "Pirate pleasure ship" although I wonder in an open vessel the pleasure is quite the word!

After a well earned lunch we headed by land to the village of Staithes via road which beckoned so tantalisingly from the water, but may have been a risk too far to venture by sea.

The access for the general public is a car park at the top of the hill so even with summer visitors the streets of Staithes remain quiet and nostalgic charm which belie the the harshness of life that the residents must have endured during its fishing heyday.

Staithes has a particular facination as the home to a group of twenty to thirty artists known as the "Staithes Group" or the "Northern Impressionists." The group contained renowned artists such as Edward E. Anderson, Joseph R. Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett and James W. Booth.  Dame Laura Knight became the most famous member of the Staithes Group; she and her husband and fellow painter Harold Knight kept a studio in the village

Looking out to the headland of the bay that was clearly visible out to sea when we were bobbing about in the roller-coaster waters of the North Sea.

After a cup of coffee is was back on the long days journey to home in the West coast of Scotland. 

Whitby station inundated with what seemed hundreds of schoolchildren and retired day trippers I climbed aboard the train back to Middlesbrough in the first leg of my journey. What I hadn't expected that the conductor would be the famous Graham Palmer, the bard and poet of Northern Rail. Destinations introduced in rhyming couplets what could be a better way to end of the Yorkshire leg of the journey.

Sitting waiting for my next connection to Darlington to pick up my train Edinburgh and then on to my home town Troon. An eventful and memorable trip... onwards to the next Forecast area...