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August 15th, 2010

The Pilot's Bicycle

As the Condor Express headed out of Poole Harbour, heading past Swanage and then south to the Channel Islands, it slowed to let the pilot off. As it throttled back the waiting Pilot Boat pulled alongside, matching speed with the massive catamaran ferry - bright orange against the blue green Channel.

Camera in hand, I leaned out over the ferry's railings to photograph the pilot's leap from ship to boat. The seas were relatively calm, so I wouldn't have long before the boat peeled away back to port.

Pilot Boat

What I didn't expect to see was the pilot handing his bicycle to the boat crew, who then proceeded to juggle it for a while, before finally stowing it safely on board.

The Pilot's Bicycle

It all actually made sense, when you think about the size of a ferry port, with wide expanses of concrete for cars to line up before loading - and buses that carry the passengers on board. How else is the pilot going to get from the pilot house (in a completely different part of the port) to the ferry?

Off Swanage, Dorset
August 2010


One of the joys of the Channel Islands is the myriad sea birds - from the terns nesting on Brehon in the Little Russel, to the puffins near Gronez on Jersey's north coast, to the ubiquitous gulls - black-backed (greater and lesser), herring, and black-headed.

But there are birds you don't usually see from land, out in the Channel skimming the waves petrels, guillemots, and, of course, gannets. I braved the rear deck of the Condor Express as it sped towards Alderney, and watched a gannet skim the waves, black wingtips and yellow beak.

Skimming The Waves

As we swept past Alderney we came close to Ortac, home to thousands of gannets. The rock was covered in them, and the sky around it full of white birds. We won't talk of just why the rock is so white...

Ortac and its Gannets

Ortac, Alderney
August 2010