Episode 4 Channel Patrol


Episode 4

Documentary following life on the English Channel. The RNLI fight to save Eastbourne pier when it catches fire and two old rivals battle it out in Cowes Week.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

It's the busiest waterway in the world.

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Come on, skipper! Get a move on. That way.

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A gateway to our nation.

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Over 90% of the world's trade travels by sea.

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It's not just TVs and refrigerators. It's everything around us.

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Protected by a multi-agency task force, it's a unique stretch

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of water.

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This is Warship Tyne, Warship Tyne, channel one-two, over.

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INAUDIBLE

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It's very difficult to police, the Channel. To board every vessel's

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an impossible task.

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It's a place where swimmers

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and Sunday sailors fight for space

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with cruise liners and cargo ships.

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It's like trying to get across the M25 during rush hour.

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For some, the English Channel is their place of work.

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If my mum came out here and saw what I was doing up here,

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-she'd tell me to get off straightaway.

-HE LAUGHS

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For others, it's a playground.

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Whoo hoo!

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-ON RADIO:

-This is rescue helicopter...

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But for those who venture onto its unpredictable waters...

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We're just going to assess the moving of the casualty now.

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-All controlled over lifeboat.

-..it can mean life or death.

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Just drag him onto the boat!

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I hope my babies get to see this,

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and see what Daddy does for a living.

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HE LAUGHS

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Today on Channel Patrol:

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The RNLI fight to save an historic structure.

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There was lots of debris in the water. Lots of burnt timbers.

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There was also lots of ash and smoke flying.

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A Navy boat checking up on the Channel's fishermen

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is battered by bad weather.

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This is our constant enemy that any sailor has to battle against,

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is the elements and the eternal effects of the sea.

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The height of the summer holidays means

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the pressure's on for the busy staff of the passenger ferries.

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This way, my love, please. SHOUTS: This way!

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And two old rivals battle it out at Cowes Week.

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It's a game of chess on water.

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Covering a 350-mile stretch from Kent to Cornwall,

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at any one time the Channel is being used by all kinds of people...

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..whether it's fishermen trying to make a living from its waters,

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holiday-makers setting off around the world, or yachtsmen

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simply messing about on boats.

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But if something goes wrong, it's often the Royal National

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Lifeboat Institute who will be first on the scene.

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As one of the busiest stations in the Channel,

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the crew in Newhaven deals with everything from medical emergencies

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aboard vessels to stranded pleasure cruisers who've

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run out of power and need a tow back to harbour.

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It's easy to forget this fourth emergency service is made up

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almost entirely of highly dedicated volunteers,

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risking their own lives to help others.

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If we focus on what we're doing,

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there's nothing else that's going on in life at that moment in time.

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You are solely focused on the job that you've got to do,

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and getting it done. The adrenaline's a wonderful thing.

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Although not the first thing you'd associate with the water,

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the RNLI is called out to around 90 incidences of fire every year.

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In here is where the salvage pump is, which we can use to pump

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saltwater up through fire hoses.

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And the remaining hydrants are up on the foredeck.

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So we have one hydrant here on the starboard side, and one other

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one in the same position on the port side, and another up on the foredeck.

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The Newhaven team recently had to put its firefighting capabilities to

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the test when it was called out to help with a devastating emergency,

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when Eastbourne Pier caught fire.

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NEWSREADER: The call to the fire service came just after three o'clock this afternoon.

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The pier's traditional timber structure had allowed the fire,

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first spotted in wood panelling, to take hold quickly.

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The Newhaven lifeboat was immediately scrambled.

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It's always the buzz that goes round, "What's the shout,

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"what's the job?"

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When we heard it was Eastbourne Pier on fire,

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it automatically gets the hairs on the back of your neck going,

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and you're not sure really what you're going to find,

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whether there's going to be lots of people still trapped on the pier.

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Fire crews were in attendance within minutes. But access was limited.

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And vital seaborne firefighting was needed.

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As we approached around Beachy Head we could see the fire coming over

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the cliffs, and the smoke going up into the air.

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From that point, you're never really sure how bad the pier is on fire.

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When we got there, it was quite well alight.

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I came down straightaway, and it was just absolutely engulfed in flames.

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It was so, so shocking.

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So I run down here and the smoke is just going higher into the sky

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than I could have ever imagined.

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We were just watching it slowly just take up the rest of the pier,

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-like losing all the little shops.

-It's devastating to look at it.

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We have to get in as close as we can,

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listen to the careful instructions by the coxswain.

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He would get in as close as possible.

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We had our fire hoses ready.

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Newhaven lifeboat joined the Eastbourne crew, who were

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already at the scene,

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and high-pressured sea water was pumped directly onto the

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remaining structure in a desperate bid to stop it going up in flames.

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The problem we had was we had a falling tide,

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and the area that was on fire was quite difficult for us

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to access because of the tide falling away all the time.

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Fearing they'd run aground, the decision was taken to fight

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the fire from the other side of the pier, where the water was deeper.

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But it was also downwind from the blaze.

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As we were going round the pier to try and get into position,

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there was lots of debris in the water, lots of burnt timbers.

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There was also lots of ash and smoke flying.

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We don't really strictly have a firefighting capability,

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we have a fire protection capacity.

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So it was then suggested we might do better

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if we had some firefighters on-board us.

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The firefighters came on board with a much heavier duty pump than ours.

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It had a suction pipe that went over the side of the boat,

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into the sea, and they were able to pump that water straight out

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through their fire hoses up onto the pier.

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Luckily enough, there was a break in the pier where the deck then

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becomes concrete, so that obviously assisted,

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preventing the spread of fire.

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But the structure above that is all timber, so we made sure

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that we kept them as cool as possible to stop the fire spreading.

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I think if the fire had taken hold from that point,

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it probably would have spread to the end of the pier,

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so it was quite a critical point to make sure that was kept cool.

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After several hours, the fire was finally under control.

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-It holds so many memories.

-Yeah, the pier does, yep.

-The pier...

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From our childhood, we just remember going on it,

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using all the arcade machines.

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Even yesterday we were on it.

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It's the main part of Eastbourne. Everybody comes here for the pier.

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Although a large section of it was lost,

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the majority of the pier remained intact thanks to the quick action

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of the firefighters

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and the RNLI crews from Eastbourne, Hastings and Newhaven.

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I don't think we would have saved any of the rest of the pier,

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that was already well ablaze.

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But I think as a combined emergency service response,

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it was considered a big success.

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Such a diverse body of water as the Channel needs many different

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agencies to monitor and manage it.

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The Royal Navy have long made it their base and training ground.

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And one of the Navy's core tasks is to assist with the management

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and policing of the UK's fishing industry.

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The Channel's waters are an important source

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of revenue to the economy.

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Fishing alone brings in over £880 million a year,

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and to help conserve stocks, strict regulations have been imposed.

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This is Warship Tyne, Warship Tyne, channel one-two, over.

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HMS Tyne is one of the three offshore patrol vessels which

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make up the Royal Navy's Fisheries Protection Squadron.

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They work as part of the Marine Management Organisation,

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who are the main body responsible for enforcing fishing regulations.

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What we do is, we work for the Marine Management Organisation,

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or on their behalf,

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and we go out up to 200 miles off to the UK limits to board different

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vessels of all nationalities to check that the EU legislation

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is being enforced.

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JP and his crew stop and search fishermen to check that their

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catch and trawling gear are in legal limits.

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-Red eight zero.

-Red eight zero.

-Port step three.

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With over 6,000 active UK fishing vessels,

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JP has his work cut out.

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Port 35. Roger.

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HMS Tyne spends over 300 days a year at sea.

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And the 42 crew members live on board for a month at a time.

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-Chefs, all right?

-Yes, sir.

-What are we having tonight, fellas?

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-Roast dinner, roast chicken and roast beef.

-Roast dinner,

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roast beef? Happy days.

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To help with the workload,

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fisheries inspector Andy Newlands is on board to train up a new recruit.

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This week we've had Andy on board as part of the Marine Management

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Organisation to facilitate the training and assessment

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of Jono in his quest of becoming a qualified marine enforcement officer.

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Sublieutenant Jono Bethwaite has been in the Navy for four years

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and is looking to step up in his career.

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We're just looking at the moment for viable contacts,

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so fishing vessels that haven't been boarded in the last few months,

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that we can now go on board and inspect.

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In order to qualify on this patrol,

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Jono must inspect a number of different fishing boats.

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We're back alongside in a few days,

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and trying to get as many boardings in as we possibly can.

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-A bit of a mad rush.

-HE LAUGHS

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We are looking for a wider variety,

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a different sort of vessels, using as many different gears as we can

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so he is exposed to as many different gear types

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and fishing vessels and fisheries as we can before we run out of time.

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So we've got our fingers crossed that we'll find enough ships

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and get enough inspections done, so that Jono can make the grade.

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Today there is an added complication to proceedings,

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as Hurricane Bertha is approaching the Channel.

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We are expecting a gale force eight coming in,

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so we are trying to get as much done as we can in a short period.

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Despite the bad forecast,

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Jono is confident he'll qualify before the patrol is out.

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Hopefully by the time we get back alongside,

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I'll be signed off and good to go.

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Working on the sea, it's an inherently dangerous place.

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Statistics show that the fishing industry is one of the most

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dangerous industries that you can work in, and subsequently,

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as we're trying to regulate the fishing industry, then there is

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an element of danger involved for us as well, as the regulator.

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When the crew spot a boat on the horizon, Jono has his chance

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to experience one of the riskiest parts of the marine inspector's job.

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Just getting into me suit now, see if we go in.

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I'm going to get cold and wet,

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so I've got the best of the kit on.

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I don't know how cold and wet it's going to be

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on board the fishing vessel either, so...

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I've got my notebook in here,

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just to basically help my boarding process and write down

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anything that we might need to take in terms of legal aspects.

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Jono's task as a fisheries inspector is to check that the boat

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is following the regulations.

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This includes using nets with holes that are big enough to let through

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smaller, younger fish, and not catching restricted species.

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The master wasn't actually keeping a proper listing on the radio

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frequency, so I've just sent my team straight over.

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If the skipper has flouted the law, he could be fined up to £10,000.

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With the weather closing in, the rib leaves Jono

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on the boat for the next few hours to carry out his inspection.

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Despite the vast array of different vessels on this bustling

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stretch of water, for many of us the Channel means one thing.

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Taking the car on a cross-Channel ferry on a trip to France,

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or the rest of Europe.

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In fact, over 15 million of us cross its waters by ferry each year,

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in 3.3 million cars.

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But something going wrong with a ferry at sea can have

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deadly consequences,

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so safety is key for the passenger ferries operating in and out

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of Dover, the busiest ferry port on the Channel.

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And it's a priority for the crew of the passenger ship Delft,

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who carry out regular safety drills.

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ON RADIO: There are copious amounts of smoke emanating from the alleyway,

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adjacent to the... INAUDIBLE

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Yeah, a four-man team making an entry into the port alleyway

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aft end of deck seven.

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Put a call out for the coastguard, please. Let them know the situation.

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Dover Coastguard, Dover Coastguard. We have a fire on board.

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-We require immediate assistance.

-These drills we do weekly.

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They are very important so all the crew are fully trained

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in abandon ship procedures

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in order to facilitate this if such an incident does occur.

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INDISTINCT COMMAND

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But although it's vital for the crew to be properly trained

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for emergencies, they're thankfully very rare.

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The biggest challenge the Delft's crew face is getting the ship

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in and out of such a busy port on time.

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One-one-five. OK, thanks.

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And at the height of the summer holidays,

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with eight crossings to complete a day, the pressure's really on.

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-We should get a full check list now, and the fins are in.

-Happy.

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The job of landing this multimillion-pound vessel

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falls to Captain Brian Salter and Chief Officer Mark Miller.

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-ON RADIO:

-Six.

-Six.

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-The stern's lifting slowly.

-Five.

-Five.

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With 35,000 tonnes of ship to control,

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it's some reverse parking manoeuvre.

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Out on deck, the pressure's also on for deck hand Brandon.

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Basically, we are reversing in,

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and when we get into position

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we would chuck the line, feed the rope out,

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so they can put it on the hook, and then when the captain

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gives the orders to make all fast, we will tighten them all up.

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Four.

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-INTERVIEWER:

-It's quite good fun, isn't it?

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It's not when there's 100 people and you miss from one metre.

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-There's hundreds of them up there. That's a lot of pressure.

-Two foot.

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Two foot.

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-One foot.

-One foot.

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If I don't hit it, I have to heave it back in, and then throw it again.

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I've missed so many times.

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-Any good?

-Landing on. Happy? Four and a half bridge,

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we're in position, mate. Fast, please.

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-INTERVIEWER:

-You happy with that?

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Yeah. Yeah, I'm happy with that.

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That's about it.

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Can you just nip up that stern line?

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It looks like there's a little bit of slack in it, please, mate.

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'Obviously you want a gentle landing. It's a big ship.'

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With over 15 years' experience,

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Captain Brian Salter has seafaring in his blood.

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I've always known I wanted to go to sea. Right from an early age

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I started going to sea with my father when I was

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still at school, just during the summer holidays and things.

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And got the bug from there, really.

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'And that was always what I was going to do.'

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My father's a captain, so, yeah, it was always going to happen.

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Brian started at the bottom as a deck hand,

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and worked his way up through the ranks.

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And apprentice deck hand Brandon is hoping to follow the same path.

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I've always been an ambitious type.

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I always want to be the best at everything.

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I want to be the best, I want to be at the top. Simple. It's like that.

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It will take time. A lot of work, and not much fun. But it's worth it.

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That's his aim and his goal.

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I mean, he's a good lad, and he's in the right direction.

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He's eager, he's keen. And I can see him progressing. And doing well.

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The Merchant Navy is shrinking, so the competition is hard.

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This opportunity arose.

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And it's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

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With the ship now safely berthed,

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the captain can breathe a short sigh of relief.

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But the challenge for the dockside staff is just beginning.

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No, you go down, my love. Go down. And go under the ramp.

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They need to get 700 vehicles on and off the ship

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so it can head back out across the Channel.

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No, you shouldn't be coming across here.

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Can you go down and under the ramp, please? Thank you.

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And to make sure the ship doesn't miss its slot out of port,

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they have just one hour to do it.

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With up to 100 ferry crossings every day here at the height of summer,

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the team at Dover's Marine Coastguard has its work cut out.

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It is 375612.

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Dover Strait itself is the busiest waterway in the world.

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So you can imagine the sort of workload

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that we can get dealing with the Dover Strait itself.

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All ships on the Dover Strait,

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this is Dover Coastguard for a channel navigation.

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The Dover Strait is divided into two sections.

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We have the South West Lane, which we actually look after.

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And we also have the North East Lane, which is looked after

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by our French colleagues.

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-This is the Dover Coastguard...

-On average,

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we deal with about 400 to 500 vessels travelling in this area.

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So that doesn't include any of the smaller ships or the fishing

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vessels that are in the area as well.

0:20:330:20:35

Fishing vessels can present a particular challenge

0:20:350:20:37

for the coastguard.

0:20:370:20:39

As you can imagine, fish don't obey the rules of the road,

0:20:390:20:42

so the fishing vessels, they go in all directions as well.

0:20:420:20:45

ALARM

0:20:450:20:47

If there is good fishing grounds

0:20:470:20:48

and we get a large number congregated in one area,

0:20:480:20:51

that can cause a problem to the passage of

0:20:510:20:54

-the larger vessels through the Dover Strait.

-ALARM

0:20:540:20:57

While the Marine Coastguard keep a watchful eye on fishing boats

0:21:000:21:03

to keep them safe from other traffic,

0:21:030:21:05

it's the job of the Navy's Fishery Protection Squadron to make sure

0:21:050:21:09

they're following the regulations.

0:21:090:21:11

Sublieutenant Jono Bethwaite is on his way back to HMS Tyne

0:21:130:21:17

after inspecting a fishing boat.

0:21:170:21:20

He's confirmed that the fisherman's nets are the right size

0:21:200:21:23

and ensured he's not caught any fish he's not supposed to.

0:21:230:21:27

We are not always looking for an infringement.

0:21:280:21:30

The aim of the boardings is to check that everything's OK, reassure

0:21:300:21:34

the fishermen, and also by doing that kind of process,

0:21:340:21:39

and going on board the vessel, it just reminds them that we

0:21:390:21:42

are watching, and it's really a deterrent more than anything.

0:21:420:21:46

Jono is hoping to qualify as a marine enforcement officer,

0:21:490:21:52

and for this inspection to count towards his qualification,

0:21:520:21:55

everything needs to go by the book.

0:21:550:21:58

Including the all-important debrief.

0:21:580:22:01

-How was that?

-Yeah, it was all right. Quite hostile to start with.

0:22:030:22:08

But he sort of calmed down towards the end.

0:22:080:22:10

He was pretty compliant by the time we finished the boarding.

0:22:100:22:13

-He was more than happy, offering cups of tea and whatnot.

-OK.

0:22:130:22:16

Got the gear done, got the documents done,

0:22:160:22:18

and with the fish, he only had 12 boxes of fish on board

0:22:180:22:21

so we just said visual assessment only. Andy was happy with that.

0:22:210:22:24

Yeah, there were a few outlining points today.

0:22:240:22:26

Made a good job of assessing the catch, good net procedure.

0:22:260:22:31

-Followed all the best practice.

-Right, onward intentions.

0:22:310:22:36

We're heading off at speed now towards Dover TSS.

0:22:360:22:39

The aim will be to just visually ID any fishing vessel we can

0:22:390:22:42

and we'll get you off on another boarding as soon as we can.

0:22:420:22:45

-All right, thanks.

-Jono has one boarding under his belt.

0:22:450:22:49

But he needs to complete several more in order to qualify today.

0:22:490:22:52

The intention is now we are just going to head east,

0:22:520:22:55

try and beat the storm that is due to come in,

0:22:550:22:57

and essentially try and track vessels visually.

0:22:570:23:00

So we will be looking out for them, looking for them on radar

0:23:000:23:03

and looking for them on the chart system,

0:23:030:23:05

and we will board them straight from there.

0:23:050:23:07

As the crew race to get ahead of the approaching storm...

0:23:080:23:12

We are expecting the remnants of Hurricane Bertha

0:23:120:23:14

with winds at 55 knots, increasing as time goes on.

0:23:140:23:18

..they ID another potential vessel for Jono to inspect.

0:23:180:23:21

The fishing vessel now at red two-zero, a Brixham beam trawler.

0:23:220:23:26

It intends to return to Brixham either this evening or early

0:23:260:23:29

tomorrow morning.

0:23:290:23:31

The team have a briefing before he's allowed to board.

0:23:310:23:34

-Still in seven echo, presumably, yeah?

-Yes, we are.

0:23:340:23:36

She has been fishing for six days

0:23:360:23:39

and her target species is scallops.

0:23:390:23:42

Sole recovery is on, hake recovery is on.

0:23:420:23:44

I'm not expecting to see any of those

0:23:440:23:46

as we're expecting at least 95% bivalve molluscs.

0:23:460:23:49

Scallops must be at least 100mm

0:23:490:23:52

and logbook tolerance is 10% all species as normal.

0:23:520:23:57

But as they get near the vessel,

0:23:570:23:59

the remnants of Hurricane Bertha are closing in.

0:23:590:24:02

As the wind picks up, the sea will pick up.

0:24:020:24:05

There will be more movement on the ship and in the boat.

0:24:050:24:08

It's a safety issue, basically.

0:24:080:24:09

It is going to be a terribly long boarding, really, so get on, have a

0:24:100:24:14

quick check of the logbook and then go straight to the gear inspection.

0:24:140:24:18

The weather is set to deteriorate, as you know.

0:24:180:24:21

So it's always your call how long you stay on there.

0:24:210:24:23

If you feel that it's getting too rough out there for collecting

0:24:230:24:27

just call the boarding off early.

0:24:270:24:29

Boarding approved as briefed, 17.15.

0:24:290:24:31

The wind has now reached 50 knots, and the mission looks precarious.

0:24:500:24:54

As part of Jono's training, he's in charge of the team,

0:24:570:25:01

and must make the call on whether it's safe to board.

0:25:010:25:05

INAUDIBLE

0:25:050:25:08

Yeah, we can't get on board. The boat won't go in.

0:25:080:25:10

Will that help?

0:25:160:25:18

So we can't actually get the boat alongside?

0:25:200:25:22

Return to mother?

0:25:250:25:27

-ON RADIO:

-Confirmed.

0:25:270:25:28

With the dangerous conditions, Jono decides they must turn back.

0:25:280:25:32

Basically, as we got there, the vessel was unsafe to board.

0:25:370:25:41

It's not safe, it's just not worth risking it.

0:25:410:25:44

Jono's qualification on this patrol is hanging in the balance.

0:25:480:25:53

The weather is going to be closing in fairly shortly.

0:25:530:25:55

Even if I do get you on something in the next two hours,

0:25:550:25:57

I'll almost certainly have to pull you off early,

0:25:570:25:59

or you may get stuck on because of the weather.

0:25:590:26:01

So we'll call it a day today.

0:26:010:26:03

The real shame is on this patrol that we've not managed to qualify

0:26:040:26:07

Jono fully. And that's because of the weather,

0:26:070:26:10

you have seen the weather has had a great impact on the training.

0:26:100:26:13

This is our constant enemy, that any sailor has to battle against, is

0:26:130:26:17

the elements, and the eternal effects of the sea.

0:26:170:26:21

With the HMS Tyne heading back into harbour, Jono must now wait

0:26:210:26:24

another month until he has a chance to complete his training.

0:26:240:26:27

While for many, the Channel's waters are a place to make a living

0:26:340:26:37

or keep safe, for others, they offer the chance for some serious fun.

0:26:370:26:41

An estimated 14 million of us

0:26:420:26:45

take part in recreational activities on or near the water,

0:26:450:26:50

with sailing being one of the most popular.

0:26:500:26:53

Cowes Week is the oldest and largest sailing competition in the Channel,

0:26:540:26:58

and competitors range from world-class to weekend amateurs.

0:26:580:27:03

But while the racing's going on,

0:27:030:27:05

this part of the Channel remains open for business.

0:27:050:27:08

The Solent is the entryway to one of the UK's busiest ports,

0:27:080:27:12

with cargo ships and cruise liners coming in and out, day and night.

0:27:120:27:16

It's the job of Paul Black from Southampton Harbour Patrol

0:27:180:27:21

to keep the yachtsmen and the commercial traffic

0:27:210:27:24

from crashing into each other.

0:27:240:27:26

CANNON FIRES

0:27:260:27:27

It's going to be a busy day today.

0:27:270:27:29

The start of Cowes Week. It's the first day,

0:27:290:27:32

one of the busiest events in the yachting calendar.

0:27:320:27:36

In terms of working on the water, equivalent land job,

0:27:370:27:41

I sometimes think possibly a shepherd.

0:27:410:27:44

Particularly during Cowes Week.

0:27:440:27:46

There's a very large number of yachts,

0:27:460:27:48

thousands of yachts in the area, all very focused on what they want to do.

0:27:480:27:52

And we've got to help to clear the way for the commercial ships,

0:27:520:27:57

and by hook or by crook, we generally manage to herd people out of the way.

0:27:570:28:02

Sometimes it gets a bit hairy, but generally speaking, it works well.

0:28:020:28:06

Normally, Paul only guides very large ships into port.

0:28:060:28:10

But during Cowes Week, it's so busy,

0:28:100:28:12

he'll be escorting every commercial vessel.

0:28:120:28:15

The primary objective today is to not interfere with the racing

0:28:150:28:20

any more than we have to.

0:28:200:28:22

We shall be probably allowing yachts to get closer to the

0:28:220:28:26

commercial shipping, more so than we normally would.

0:28:260:28:30

Paul's guiding a large tanker into port.

0:28:300:28:32

But he's got his eye on the race, which is about to start.

0:28:320:28:36

At the moment we're just coming in slowly,

0:28:360:28:38

cos there's quite a big yacht race ahead of us.

0:28:380:28:40

Ships of this size cannot easily adjust their path or come to a stop,

0:28:410:28:46

so Paul must keep a close watch on the Cowes competitors.

0:28:460:28:49

This could be potentially a tricky time,

0:28:490:28:52

because everybody's focused on the start of the race.

0:28:520:28:56

And, from experience,

0:28:560:28:58

they tend not to be focusing as much on what's going on around them.

0:28:580:29:02

With the tanker fast approaching the competitors,

0:29:030:29:06

-Paul has got his hands full.

-We are going to need to make a decision.

0:29:060:29:11

Yeah, Turmoil, we will keep that blue spinnaker on the port side.

0:29:110:29:16

Yeah, we'll keep them all onto the west side of the Channel, please.

0:29:200:29:25

Keep them all to the west.

0:29:250:29:27

We had to turn the first three back whilst the tank comes through.

0:29:270:29:33

Which won't please them at all, because they were out in front.

0:29:330:29:37

But that's just the name of the game, really.

0:29:370:29:39

Keeping the water safe is our ultimate task.

0:29:390:29:43

What we are trying not to do is to spoil people's fun whilst we're doing it.

0:29:430:29:47

Now that the tanker has safely passed them,

0:29:470:29:49

these competitors can finish their event.

0:29:490:29:51

And at the start line,

0:29:530:29:55

another fiercely contested race is getting ready for the off.

0:29:550:29:59

Two archrivals are hoping to take this year's title

0:29:590:30:02

in the Solent Sunbeams category.

0:30:020:30:05

84-year-old John Ford is known as The Commander.

0:30:050:30:09

Young, keen sailor men prefer to sail a high-performance dinghy

0:30:090:30:13

and lie out on a trapeze, and it looks all very dramatic.

0:30:130:30:18

For those that don't know, we might look like elderly folk

0:30:180:30:22

almost coming down with our white sticks to the jetty to get on board.

0:30:220:30:26

We're not. We are very competitive.

0:30:260:30:30

The Commander has sailed at Cowes for 26 years,

0:30:300:30:33

but his nautical history stretches back much further.

0:30:330:30:36

My relationship with the Channel,

0:30:360:30:39

I started at a sea cadet camp in the Isle of Wight just after the war.

0:30:390:30:44

Later on I joined the Royal Navy.

0:30:440:30:46

I was lucky enough to be sent in command of a ship,

0:30:460:30:50

and here's a copy of my frigate.

0:30:500:30:53

This actually was taken at Portland.

0:30:530:30:56

That was a very thrilling time for me, as in the services,

0:30:560:31:00

of course, command of a ship is the thing which you strive for

0:31:000:31:03

and that carries over into sailing.

0:31:030:31:05

You say to yourself, "I'm going to win today."

0:31:050:31:08

John may have been a decorated naval commander

0:31:080:31:11

but his main rival takes all the silverware.

0:31:110:31:14

Roger Wickens has won the Sunbeams class for the last six years.

0:31:150:31:20

You may wonder why we have such a passion for these boats.

0:31:200:31:24

If you stand at the back here and look down the hull,

0:31:240:31:29

they have beautiful curves, they glide through the water,

0:31:290:31:33

they handle beautifully, they're happy in no wind, or a gale.

0:31:330:31:38

They're the most exquisite shape.

0:31:380:31:40

I've been sailing Sunbeams for about 24 years

0:31:400:31:44

and they're quite successful.

0:31:440:31:46

Roger Wickens, I'm afraid to say,

0:31:500:31:52

he's won more races than anyone else.

0:31:520:31:55

He is of international standard.

0:31:550:31:57

He can be beaten.

0:31:570:31:59

He does make mistakes but not very often.

0:31:590:32:03

If we can get up there and chase his tail, even,

0:32:030:32:05

and get to start him looking behind and get him worried,

0:32:050:32:07

that's a good day.

0:32:070:32:09

Three minutes to the start of the Sunbeams...

0:32:100:32:13

As the competing Sunbeams are lined up and ready to go,

0:32:130:32:16

The Commander's hoping this will be the year Roger slips up

0:32:160:32:19

and HE can take the crown.

0:32:190:32:21

All the boats are really tuned up.

0:32:230:32:25

It is a game of chess on water.

0:32:260:32:29

It's a kind of snakes and ladders game.

0:32:290:32:32

It usually only means if you make one tactical mistake...

0:32:320:32:34

and you're not going to win.

0:32:340:32:36

Five, four, three, two, one...

0:32:360:32:40

CANNON FIRES

0:32:400:32:41

For the next three hours, every decision Roger

0:32:480:32:51

and The Commander make could win or lose them the race.

0:32:510:32:54

As the boats release their spinnakers,

0:32:590:33:01

the racing begins in earnest.

0:33:010:33:03

We are always having to make lots of very fine judgments

0:33:100:33:13

about which side of the Channel do we go,

0:33:130:33:15

have we got room to get past someone?

0:33:150:33:19

The Sunbeams must steer around seven buoys

0:33:220:33:25

in a gruelling 20-mile course.

0:33:250:33:27

The thing about yacht racing is we do things

0:33:310:33:33

that under normal, civilian business codes

0:33:330:33:36

would be deemed to be too dangerous.

0:33:360:33:39

We're bouncing about on the deck of small boats in heavy seas.

0:33:390:33:42

Despite these dangers, Roger's crew is operating

0:33:450:33:48

like a well-oiled machine.

0:33:480:33:50

There's never any shouting.

0:33:560:33:58

Shouting is totally non-productive.

0:33:580:34:00

If you upset the crew, they don't operate so well.

0:34:000:34:02

But things are far from smooth sailing

0:34:070:34:10

aboard The Commander's Sunbeam.

0:34:100:34:12

There are tense moments during a race,

0:34:150:34:18

a lot of shouting and gnashing of teeth and waving of fists.

0:34:180:34:21

It can get fairly fraught.

0:34:210:34:23

The sea takes no prisoners.

0:34:230:34:25

Having taken a different route around the first buoy,

0:34:280:34:31

The Commander's boat is trailing in last place.

0:34:310:34:35

It's blowing force five, the wind against tide.

0:34:400:34:42

We've got no life lines

0:34:420:34:44

and the sea's crashing over the bow.

0:34:440:34:48

Everybody's soaking wet.

0:34:480:34:50

We use our wits and our senses.

0:34:500:34:53

You do need a bit of luck.

0:34:550:34:56

HE LAUGHS

0:34:560:34:58

The Commander needs to find a way to make up some ground.

0:35:010:35:04

Think about the angle of the line.

0:35:040:35:06

If you start out here, you've got further to sail.

0:35:060:35:09

Petra, come back here and you can see it better.

0:35:110:35:13

He finds a new racing line and is back on track.

0:35:140:35:18

Ready about, lee ho!

0:35:200:35:21

In order to be successful, you really do need

0:35:230:35:26

to work up as a team.

0:35:260:35:27

All three people in the boat would be of equal value

0:35:310:35:35

and they do their own thing without being told.

0:35:350:35:38

It's not long before The Commander starts to overtake other Sunbeams,

0:35:380:35:42

gaining ground on Roger.

0:35:420:35:44

Forward. That's it.

0:35:500:35:52

Just one boat lies between them.

0:35:580:36:00

But Roger is already on the home straight.

0:36:030:36:06

On the final stretch, Roger makes a break for it,

0:36:090:36:12

sailing across the finish to claim first place.

0:36:120:36:14

Despite best efforts, The Commander can only manage third.

0:36:180:36:21

It was a pretty big disaster, we didn't beat Roger Wickens.

0:36:310:36:34

What happened today was we got it wrong, we were right at the back.

0:36:380:36:42

We couldn't beat Roger, who was well ahead.

0:36:420:36:44

Did I really ever believe that it was possible to beat Roger?

0:36:440:36:48

Erm, it was a nice idea

0:36:480:36:51

but he is very, very good.

0:36:510:36:53

When you're in love with sailing and racing, yacht racing,

0:36:540:36:58

you never really want to give it up.

0:36:580:37:01

It's like a drug,

0:37:010:37:03

it draws you back.

0:37:030:37:05

With the Sunbeam crown going to Roger,

0:37:050:37:07

The Commander will have to wait another year for a rematch.

0:37:070:37:11

But there's no letup in Dover for the busy

0:37:160:37:19

crews of the passenger ferries.

0:37:190:37:21

Ships depart every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 364 days a year.

0:37:210:37:26

The dockside crew of the Delft need to get the ship ready

0:37:270:37:31

for the next of the eight Channel crossings it will make today.

0:37:310:37:35

-Update from Seaways 1.

-Good morning.

0:37:350:37:37

We are expecting about 180 tourists at the moment.

0:37:370:37:40

No, my love, if you can go onto the walkways, please.

0:37:400:37:43

It's the responsibility of Loadmaster Diane,

0:37:430:37:46

better known as Dolly, to coordinate the unloading

0:37:460:37:49

and loading of up to 700 vehicles per trip.

0:37:490:37:52

She has just one hour to do it or the ship risks missing

0:37:550:38:00

her departure slot, jeopardising the timetable

0:38:000:38:02

of the busiest port in Britain.

0:38:020:38:05

Now is the summer holidays so this is

0:38:050:38:07

when we have as many as we can get on and we have to pack the ships tight.

0:38:070:38:11

Can I have a check-in figure, please?

0:38:110:38:12

There are lots of little spaces

0:38:120:38:14

so they'll ask for lots of little vehicles to go in little spaces

0:38:140:38:16

to maximise the load, to ensure the ship's full and everyone gets away.

0:38:160:38:20

-ON RADIO:

-Grey, silvery Clio.

-The last one's a Clio.

0:38:200:38:24

I will send you up your stores.

0:38:240:38:26

I have been doing it for six years now, loadmaster,

0:38:260:38:29

and I've seen most things, I think, that can happen.

0:38:290:38:31

This way, my love, please!

0:38:310:38:33

This way!

0:38:330:38:35

Up here, please. Thank you.

0:38:350:38:37

You'd be surprised at how many people think that little Danny,

0:38:370:38:40

who's three, can actually drive the car on board the ship.

0:38:400:38:44

Top deck 8, motorbikes.

0:38:440:38:46

They come in the port, they think they're not on the road any more.

0:38:460:38:50

But no matter how experienced Diane is at her job,

0:38:510:38:55

one thing that's not in her control is the public's timekeeping.

0:38:550:38:59

We're trying to get everyone back to their vehicles.

0:38:590:39:02

We have a space on the front of the ship for two Transit vans which

0:39:020:39:05

we're trying to utilise but there's no-one in the vehicles at the moment.

0:39:050:39:09

Rebecca, anyone back in those Transits yet?

0:39:160:39:19

-ON RADIO:

-No, Dolly.

0:39:190:39:21

Seaways 2, can we have another callout, please?

0:39:210:39:23

-ON RADIO:

-Yeah, no problem.

0:39:230:39:26

If there's no-one to go up there,

0:39:260:39:27

then we will lose those two little spaces, yes.

0:39:270:39:30

We're trying to get them out so that we can fill them up!

0:39:300:39:33

While Diane tries to track down the Transit drivers,

0:39:390:39:42

it's the job of Chief Officer Mark to ensure the freight vehicles

0:39:420:39:46

are loaded correctly on board.

0:39:460:39:48

The 18-metres need a wider swinging space.

0:39:490:39:52

I try to keep them in the two central lanes.

0:39:520:39:55

But with such a short time slot for loading and unloading,

0:39:570:40:00

the ship is equipped with the latest technology to help him.

0:40:000:40:03

We haven't got time to keep stopping and looking

0:40:030:40:06

at what weights they are.

0:40:060:40:08

Sometimes you might get all the heavy bits on one side but

0:40:080:40:10

we've got tanks to compensate for that

0:40:100:40:13

and we can pump water from one side of the ship to the other.

0:40:130:40:15

It's on automatic at the moment.

0:40:150:40:17

HE WHISTLES

0:40:190:40:20

Back on the dockside,

0:40:240:40:26

one of Diane's missing Transit drivers has finally turned up.

0:40:260:40:29

-ON RADIO:

-We've got one Transit driver so far, Dolly.

0:40:290:40:32

OK, do you want to send him round behind the stores for me, please?

0:40:320:40:36

-On its way.

-Thank you!

0:40:360:40:39

But there's still no sign of the other driver

0:40:390:40:42

and Diane can't hold up the loading of the top deck much longer.

0:40:420:40:45

Top deck, unfortunately, they've still not returned.

0:40:450:40:48

Seaways 2, can we have another callout, please?

0:40:500:40:52

We've still got ten minutes of check-in.

0:40:530:40:56

The second Transit driver finally makes an appearance.

0:40:590:41:03

Second Transit is on the way up, top deck.

0:41:060:41:08

I do enjoy getting it all on the ship and then looking around

0:41:120:41:16

and it's all gone.

0:41:160:41:18

After the car top deck, you've got four pieces of clean,

0:41:180:41:21

-the small, the DG and the film crew.

-Thank you very much.

0:41:210:41:26

Dolly's really good, she's one of the best loadmasters we've got.

0:41:260:41:29

She knows everything out there, so she's good.

0:41:290:41:32

When it all goes on and it all goes on perfectly, that's good.

0:41:320:41:35

SHE CHUCKLES

0:41:350:41:37

I come away and go...

0:41:370:41:38

"I did a good job there."

0:41:380:41:41

As loading is completed,

0:41:430:41:45

the job of feeding up to 1,000 passengers begins.

0:41:450:41:48

Thank you very much. Cheers!

0:41:480:41:50

The challenge is making sure we've got enough food

0:41:500:41:52

in the timescale in which to serve all the passengers.

0:41:520:41:56

The crossing is only two hours

0:41:560:41:58

and most people eat within the first hour.

0:41:580:42:00

As you can see, we're flat out now.

0:42:000:42:02

-Mushy peas or beans?

-No.

-No?

0:42:020:42:06

There you go, thank you.

0:42:060:42:08

Holiday-makers, in general, they like fish and chips on the way out.

0:42:080:42:11

It's their last taste of England

0:42:110:42:12

and with the Continental people it's beef bourguignon, that sort of thing.

0:42:120:42:16

After just an hour in port,

0:42:190:42:20

the Delft is now making her way back out into the Channel once more.

0:42:200:42:25

ON RADIO: On behalf of DFDS Seaways, officers and crew,

0:42:250:42:27

I would like to welcome you on board the Delft Seaways

0:42:270:42:30

for the 1600 sailing to Dunkirk.

0:42:300:42:32

The weather on the Channel, we've got a light westerly breeze...

0:42:330:42:37

And while the passengers enjoy their last taste of England,

0:42:370:42:41

Captain Brian Salter will safely steer them

0:42:410:42:45

through the heavy traffic to France.

0:42:450:42:48

All right.

0:42:480:42:49

Yeah, it's not without its challenges

0:42:490:42:51

and it does require some high levels of concentration

0:42:510:42:55

but safety's key.

0:42:550:42:57

We're carrying 1,000 passengers, at any one time, that all rely on us

0:42:570:43:01

to make sure they get there safely.

0:43:010:43:03

That's the number one priority for me as Master of the ship.

0:43:030:43:06

Another day has passed without incident thanks to the work

0:43:070:43:10

of the many agencies patrolling this busiest of waterways.

0:43:100:43:15

The RNLI fight to save an historic structure. The Newhaven RNLI crew was one of many agencies called out when Eastbourne pier caught fire on 30 July 2014. Using footage captured on their helmet camera as well as live news from the day, we follow the key role they played in helping to save the historic pier from total destruction.

We're also on board the Royal Navy's HMS Tyne, part of the channel's fisheries protection squadron, who patrol the waters ensuring commercial fishermen follow regulations to protect fishing stocks. A young naval officer on board is hoping to complete his qualification as a marine enforcement officer - but Hurricane Bertha is approaching the channel.

For many of us the channel means one thing - taking the car on a cross-channel ferry for a trip to France or the rest of Europe. In fact over 15 million of us cross its waters by ferry each year in 3.3 million cars. We follow the crew of DFDS Seaways ferry the Delft at the height of the summer holidays as they load and unload up to 1,000 passengers a time on a tight schedule.

And we're with two old rivals as they battle it out in the channel's most famous regatta, Cowes Week.