Episode 6 Channel Patrol


Episode 6

Documentary following life on the English Channel. Off the coast of Weymouth, two rival skippers go head to head in an epic big fish competition.


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Transcript


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It's the busiest waterway in the world.

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Come on, skipper!

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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,

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it's a unique stretch 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.

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To board every vessel is an impossible task.

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It's a place where swimmers

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and Sunday sailors fight for space with cruise liners...

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..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.

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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 on to its unpredictable waters...

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We're just going to assist 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 on to the boat!

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I hope my babies get to see this, 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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..lighthouse engineers battle a hurricane.

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You've got a 300-tonne light vessel doing one thing,

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a small motorboat doing another thing.

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Nice and easy. It's all about little adjustments.

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A trainee dock worker learns to drive a 400ft cargo crane.

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And competitive anglers go head-to-head in their quest

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to land one of the biggest fish in the Channel.

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Wouldn't surprise me to see a 100lb conger come up, which is

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what really we are all after.

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The Channel is a vast maritime highway

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with up to 500 vessels in its waters at any one time.

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Everything from tiny dinghies to towering cargo ships.

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It's the lifeline that feeds the UK's economy.

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But it's a stretch of water that can also prove treacherous.

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As the German cargo freighter, the LT Cortesia, discovered

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when it hit a sandbank off the coast of Dover in 2008.

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Lighthouses and buoys have always played a vital role in guiding

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ships away from danger.

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And the task of maintaining them

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has long been the responsibility of the Trinity House Corporation.

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Today, the crew of their flagship, the Galatea,

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is on its way to a light vessel, or floating lighthouse.

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It's been hit by another boat, and badly damaged.

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A lightship looks like a small ship with a lighthouse on top.

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So because of its size, you can see it very clearly

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from a long distance during the day,

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and because of its large light, you can

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see it from a longer distance during the night.

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Basically, they're used to mark very dangerous areas.

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The vessel marks a sandbank, six miles off the Deal coast, in Kent.

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This is the navigation chart for Dover to North Foreland.

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Dover. There's North Foreland, up here.

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And this area here is the Goodwin Sands, which is one of the most

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treacherous areas around the country.

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The depths are constantly changing.

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The tidal streams are extremely fast.

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And basically, we need to keep people off them.

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Over the centuries, the shifting sands have wrecked

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Viking longships, galleons, yachts and liners.

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So that's why the lightship is here.

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As a major floating aid.

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To guard ships away from the Goodwin Sands.

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Problem is, the lightship has been hit by a vessel,

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and has a hole in it and it's taking water.

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So we need to get there, get on board, take a look

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and then work out how we are going to get this thing back to Harwich.

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Unfortunately, until we get on board,

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we don't know the extent of the damage.

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The plan is to tow the stricken light vessel into harbour

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for repair, leaving a temporary marker in its place.

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But being the motorway maintenance men of the sea can be

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a risky business.

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Taking a large vessel

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so close to the sandbanks poses its own dangers to the Galatea.

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If you imagine a buoy or a light vessel is marking a particular

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navigational hazard,

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then we have to go within that danger area,

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to attend that particular light vessel.

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Chief Officer Bob Culley is the third generation of his family to

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work for Trinity House.

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Start off a safety brief.

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OK, chaps, you know it's been damaged.

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Not sure exactly what we're going to find until we get across there.

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My role as chief officer on the Galatea will be to take

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charge of the landing party, and once we get onto the light vessel,

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we can assess the situation, make dynamic risk assessments as we go,

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but the overall concern is the safety of my crew.

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Good weather and calm seas are critical to the operation

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being carried out safely.

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But a storm is sweeping in from the Atlantic

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and closing in on the Channel.

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We're expecting the Hurricane Bertha on arrival,

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which doesn't bode too well.

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So the weather is a massive influence on our work and arrangements.

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This thing is taking on water, so we do need to get it in.

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So efficiency or speed is of the essence, really.

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But I'll be constantly monitoring the weather from up here.

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Before they can get the vessel ready to tow,

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the team has to get on board to assess the damage.

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Light vessels used to be permanently manned.

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But in 1954, the South Goodwin lightship was battered

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by brutal sees and sunk, tragically taking the lives of seven crew.

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Since then, the decision has been made to leave them unmanned.

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Today, the main residents are sea birds.

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The light vessel is a seagull's natural habitat,

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but we do have a bird scarer, which is meant to be a

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seagull in distress, which is meant to keep the birds off of the structure.

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But, um, with varying success.

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The already increasing swell means there's no time to hang around

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when boarding.

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There's usually under about an inch of bird line,

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and when you come across it in winter, and it's all been raining

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for a week, and you're slipping and sliding in it, oh, it's horrible stuff!

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Bob's first job is to check everything is fine with

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the light itself.

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It's one of 10,000 navigational aids that Trinity House oversee.

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This is the main lantern now, with the lenses that focus the light...

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..as she rotates.

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Cos it's the safety of the Channel, which we are out here to maintain.

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Safety navigation.

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Up here is the emergency light.

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If the main light fails, this one will kick in as backup.

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Having confirmed both lights are working fine, Bob and engineer Gwyn

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then begin their search to assess the damage to the hull.

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First thing to do is to open everything up,

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get some fresh air going through the accommodation

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and all the spaces that we will be entering.

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I'm wearing a personal gas detector,

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just in case there are pockets of gas.

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The search takes the team past the old living quarters.

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The vessel is divided into different watertight compartments with

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these doors.

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So that stops a lot of the water ingress.

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So, I'm paying particular attention to this compartment,

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as this is the most forward compartment.

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So when we take the vessel under tow, this is going to be

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exposed to any waves and tidal action.

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There's no obvious signs of any damage.

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I'm looking at all the strengtheners and stringers,

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see if there's any distortion anywhere, any discolouration from rust.

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All looks pretty good.

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As you can see from the light vessel drawings,

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we've done a thorough search in here.

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The accommodation, the machinery space area...checked.

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All the spaces inside, we found no damage, no water ingress.

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Satisfied that the main compartments are watertight, Bob and Gwyn

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check the front chamber, close to where they see the vessel was hit.

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-We've got water.

-Oh, yeah.

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The light vessel was hit towards the bow, where the

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anchor chain passes through.

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And Bob needs to assess how much water it has taken on board.

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We'll get a surmountable pump sent across,

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and we can pump what's in here out,

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and we'll keep that on station,

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because once we get this under way, it's just going to get worse.

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Back on board the Galatea, Captain Wayne Durrans is closely monitoring the weather.

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Right, this one is actually stating gale warning, Thames Dover.

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Rough, or very rough.

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So that's just backing up what I'm seeing and it's basically telling me

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that from 7am, that's going to continue for the next 24 hours.

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The wind has picked up to such an extent that the mission

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is in jeopardy.

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-Galatea.

-This is bridge, go ahead.

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I can't get down there and have a perfectly good look

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with her pitching and rolling as she is.

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At the moment, I'm calling a stop to the operation.

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Can you now make your aim to see how we can make this thing more

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watertight, if necessary?

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OK, that's all received.

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We've aborted the mission

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because of the deteriorating weather conditions,

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so our secondary concern now is to try and shore it up

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and make it as watertight as possible,

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especially with the damage to the bow, which deems it a danger to tow.

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The bad weather has meant that the original plan to tow

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the lightship has had to be put on hold.

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So Bob and Gwyn decide to pump out as much water as possible

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to ensure it stays afloat.

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We can't pump it completely bone dry.

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Once the weather calms down a little bit and it's

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more in our favour for the work to be done, I can have a closer look.

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The crew can only hope that their temporary fix will be enough

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to shore up the lightship against the incoming storm.

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For everyone using these waters,

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from cross-channel swimmers to huge cruise ships,

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the weather is the single biggest challenge to be faced.

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While the vast container ships are more equipped than many

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to cope, bad weather can still have a huge

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effect on the delivery of essential goods.

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A staggering 95% of all UK imports and exports travel by ship.

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In Southampton port alone, 30 cranes work day and night,

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unloading freight.

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And 22-year-old skilled technician Ryan Southwick

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is learning to fix them.

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But in order to do that, he has to learn how to drive them.

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Today's an important day cos I've got my crane training.

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Haven't driven a crane properly before.

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Um...

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Had a small play on them, but nothing too much.

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So we're going to have a little walk round the crane...

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Richard Bailey has over 20 years' experience as a crane operator

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and will train and assess Ryan over the next few days.

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The engineers need to be competent because they will be driving

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the cranes now and again. They won't be driving on the ship,

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but they will be driving to do little bits round the quay,

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if there's breakdowns, so they need to be able to understand how

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to drive the crane and to drive it safely.

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At the end of the training, Ryan will have to pass a crane

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driving test if he wants to become a qualified engineer.

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Anyone falls in the water, you've got your safety belt.

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Pinning down position's up here.

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As an engineer, I have to be fixing them, otherwise it would be

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a bit like a car mechanic not being able to drive a car.

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The big challenge in driving the crane is to keep the spreader

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still and to land on the box.

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It's like the arcade game in the old amusements,

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where you're trying to pick a cuddly toy up out of the machine,

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and landing on one of those. It can be very difficult

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but we do generally win at the end of the day on this job!

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-We'll head on up the cab.

-Yeah, all right.

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I think there'll be some pressure, learning to operate it and stuff

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because it is a big machine,

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but...it is a challenge, but...I'm sure it'll all go fine in the end.

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Ryan's heading 160ft up, to the heart of the crane.

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It's certainly not a job for anyone with a fear of heights.

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What we're going to start off to doing,

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is we're just going to be trolleying in and out for a little bit and

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the idea is to keep that spreader below us as steady as possible.

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It's like a pendulum, so what we're doing,

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when we're swinging, we're trying to catch up the pendulum, OK?

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So if you want to start trolleying out, we're high enough,

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we're at a safe height.

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So we're just catching it up, a little bit quicker,

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taking it off just a fraction. That's good.

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A delicate touch is essential to stop the spreader swinging around.

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Each crane weighs 1,300 tonnes, is 400ft tall

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and costs over £6 million.

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It's unsurprising that crane driving is considered

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one of the dock's elite jobs.

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Nice and easy, it's all about little adjustments.

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-Good. Now, go back the other way.

-Aha.

-We've got no box on there,

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so we don't have to worry about vans coming in underneath us.

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-Quite sensitive, isn't it?

-Oh, yeah, it's very jerky.

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It's not easy to get it right straightaway.

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'It can be very lonely, it's long hours on your own.

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'It's the most stressful job down here and it's the most responsible.

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'Without us driving the cranes, you wouldn't

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'get your goods in the shops and exporters wouldn't be very happy.'

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It's all about keeping it running,

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keeping that spreader running nicely.

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That's really good, you've got a nice position there.

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Start slowing down just a little bit now. That's it. A little bit more.

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Little bit more. As a fitter, you won't be required to...

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-No, put them on the boat.

-Yeah, exactly.

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All you're doing is driving this safely,

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just getting the hang safely.

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Ryan's hoping to join the 80 engineers who keep the cranes

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running day and night. But first, he has to pass his driving test.

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It's all about keeping that in control,

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so it's not swinging around.

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I think with a bit more practice,

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I'll pass the assessment quite easily. I think it'll be all right.

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Very good. You're almost a natural.

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'It's gone very well today.

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'He's picking it up very quickly,

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'so at the moment I'm very pleased with him.' Looks good.

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It's very good so far, for your first go.

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In two days' time, Ryan's new-found skills will be put to the test.

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Stretching 350 miles from Land's End to the Straits of Dover,

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the Channel's waters constantly ebb and flow with moving vessels

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of every shape and size.

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All ships in the Dover Strait, this is the Dover coastguard.

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As well as the working world of cargo ships, tug boats, ferries

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and wind farms, it's also the UK's largest waterborne playground.

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Fishing has long been one of the UK's most popular pastimes,

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and off the coast of Weymouth,

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an annual epic big fish competition is in full flow.

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Over three days, up to 100 anglers are competing to catch one of

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the Channel's oldest and largest native fish, the mighty conger eel.

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Ancient monsters of the sea,

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they are known for their aggressive, fighting nature.

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They can be a big fish.

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When it comes to competition fishing,

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-this is as tough as it gets.

-That's a nice eel.

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And the glory goes to the skipper whose boat lands the heaviest eel.

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Whoo hoo!

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In the harbour, Paul Whittall is getting ready to set off.

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Having been champion skipper five times before,

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he's hoping he can be crowned Top Boat once again.

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You'd think, by now, a captain wouldn't have to do this.

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Dizzy heights I've reached, scrubbing decks.

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But determined to beat Paul to the title this year

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is relative newcomer, Adrian Brown.

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There's no point being in the competition

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if you don't want to win it.

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Everyone's out there to beat Paul.

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We're skippers, it's a competition. So we all want to win.

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I know Adrian. Very nice gentleman.

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Relatively new to the game.

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He does take it quite seriously. However, he's got to beat me.

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And there's a phrase here that I like to bandy about,

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"You're good, but not that good."

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Hopefully for us it will be a good day, and a bad day for Paul.

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Under competition rules,

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the skippers themselves aren't allowed to fish.

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Their skill is in placing their boat in the perfect position

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to land the biggest eels.

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Of course, you do put quite a lot of preparation in,

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and there's stuff that goes on that maybe people don't kind of realise.

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And I know that the anglers will do the business,

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and it's up to me to give them the opportunity to do that.

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And if I don't get it all dead right,

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it's all a waste of time from their point of view because I've mucked up.

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The fishermen have 11 hours in which to catch eels and get back to shore.

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On the way out of the harbour,

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the skippers spot an opportunity to stock up on bait.

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These mackerel will be like catnip to the conger.

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Off we go, then. Ever onward.

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Conditions are perfect. This is as good as you're ever going to get.

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A flat calm sea. Loads of mackerel to start the day off.

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Lovely weather all day, sunshine.

0:20:290:20:33

It couldn't actually be any better.

0:20:330:20:35

Now, whether or not that will mean that the fish will bite

0:20:350:20:38

is another matter.

0:20:380:20:39

With 50 years' maritime experience, salt water runs in Paul's blood.

0:20:390:20:44

My family apparently goes back to 1750, fishing here.

0:20:450:20:49

We're one of the main original families.

0:20:490:20:52

'You can tell a fisherman walking in town.

0:20:520:20:55

'We're like wobbling, because our legs are bandy.

0:20:550:20:59

'We can't do things on the land that normal people can do.'

0:20:590:21:03

I can't stand on a ladder and put a light bulb in, cos I'd fall off,

0:21:030:21:07

because nothing's moving.

0:21:070:21:08

Paul's banking on his knowledge of this part of the Channel

0:21:110:21:14

to give him the upper hand.

0:21:140:21:17

We're going to a very big wreck called the Ancora, which was sunk

0:21:170:21:21

in the Second World War. Aerial bombardment, very big wreck.

0:21:210:21:26

And I'm hoping it might hold a big eel for us.

0:21:260:21:28

Deep-water shipwrecks are the perfect place for conger eels

0:21:290:21:33

to hunt and hide.

0:21:330:21:35

There are at least 1,200 wrecks.

0:21:360:21:40

All of these are numbers of shipwrecks,

0:21:400:21:42

First and Second World War.

0:21:420:21:44

Because this is where the convoys used to run up and down the Channel,

0:21:440:21:47

and they were hit by the submarines and aerial bombardment.

0:21:470:21:50

The wrecks are falling apart now,

0:21:530:21:55

they're just crumbling masses of old metal.

0:21:550:21:59

And then if you've got weed and crustacea building up,

0:21:590:22:02

then you're going to get fish attracted to it.

0:22:020:22:04

If you fish just a little bit away from it, you'll catch nothing.

0:22:040:22:08

But if you fish on it, then you'll catch plenty. In theory.

0:22:080:22:11

Paul's rival, Adrian, may be less experienced,

0:22:130:22:17

but his love of fishing goes back to childhood.

0:22:170:22:20

'My dad took me fishing when I was five, and it carried on from then.'

0:22:200:22:25

Once I'd caught my first fish off the beach, I was hooked.

0:22:250:22:28

At the age of 35, Adrian took a bold step

0:22:280:22:32

and changed his career for the love of the sea.

0:22:320:22:34

I decided to take the plunge,

0:22:350:22:37

leave the job I was doing as a carpenter,

0:22:370:22:39

and become a charter skipper.

0:22:390:22:41

'You know, I'm doing something I love doing, I'm passionate about.'

0:22:410:22:44

Adrian named his boat after his dad, who inspired him to fish.

0:22:440:22:49

'Unfortunately, he couldn't come fishing with me on my boat

0:22:490:22:52

'when I first started, because he passed away.

0:22:520:22:55

'And that is why the boat is called Al's Spirit,

0:22:550:22:57

'because his name was Alan. So I named it in his memory.'

0:22:570:22:59

Paul may be an old-timer, but he's using the latest

0:23:030:23:06

seafaring technology to get his boat in the perfect place.

0:23:060:23:10

We need to anchor 220 metres ahead of the wreck,

0:23:100:23:15

so that we can drop the boat back,

0:23:150:23:18

so I can get the boat to roughly 40 yards

0:23:180:23:21

away from the wreck.

0:23:210:23:23

So, we've worked out where we're going to put the anchor now.

0:23:230:23:27

We're now going backwards. This is a technical term for reversing.

0:23:300:23:33

And I need to do this to put us exactly where I'd like us to end up,

0:23:330:23:38

going on my GPS unit.

0:23:380:23:40

Over on Al's Spirit,

0:23:400:23:42

Adrian has placed his boat over two wrecks, to get one up on Paul.

0:23:420:23:47

You have to get up early to catch Paul out, that's for sure.

0:23:480:23:51

But every dog has his day.

0:23:510:23:53

It only takes one minute to hook up a big fish,

0:23:530:23:55

and you've won the competition.

0:23:550:23:57

So it could be anywhere. The sea is vast.

0:23:570:24:00

Away you go. Good luck.

0:24:010:24:03

The experienced anglers on board both boats cast their lines.

0:24:030:24:07

Well, we're about 20 miles out, down to the west of Weymouth.

0:24:090:24:13

On two close wrecks,

0:24:130:24:16

and conger bashing.

0:24:160:24:18

You either like it or hate it. It's like Marmite.

0:24:200:24:23

People think fishing is mad, cos you just spend all your day

0:24:230:24:27

looking over the side of the boat, or looking into a lake.

0:24:270:24:30

But, you know, it's an escape from work.

0:24:300:24:33

It's now a waiting game for the monster fish.

0:24:330:24:36

But in Southampton port, time is money

0:24:420:24:44

when it comes to handling freight.

0:24:440:24:47

Over 100 million tonnes of it are unloaded from container ships

0:24:480:24:52

each year, and distributed across the UK.

0:24:520:24:55

Every extra hour a ship spends in port

0:24:570:24:59

can affect the global supply chain, and each crane needs to handle

0:24:590:25:03

at least 30 containers an hour to keep the flow of trade moving.

0:25:030:25:07

-Are we ready for this?

-Yep.

-Good.

0:25:070:25:10

It's the day of skilled technician Ryan's crane driving test.

0:25:100:25:14

OK, if you want to start telling me what you're looking for, please?

0:25:170:25:22

Yeah, just looking out for any obstacles in between the wheels.

0:25:220:25:26

'I'm feeling quite confident.

0:25:260:25:28

'Obviously there's a few nerves - nothing too bad, though.

0:25:280:25:30

'I need to pass the test today, cos otherwise it's going to

0:25:300:25:33

'set me back on my training.'

0:25:330:25:34

So failure's not an option.

0:25:350:25:38

So far, it looks like Ryan is feeling confident.

0:25:380:25:41

'It's a very big day for Ryan.

0:25:420:25:44

'He needs to be able to drive the crane to a safe standard.'

0:25:440:25:48

OK, if you want to talk me through

0:25:480:25:50

-the cabin text then, please, Ryan.

-Right, um...

0:25:500:25:53

'And it's probably his most important day on the job.'

0:25:530:25:57

OK. When you're ready,

0:25:580:26:00

I want you to pick up the box in lane three, please.

0:26:000:26:03

Lock onto it, and I'll let you know after that.

0:26:030:26:05

All right, OK.

0:26:050:26:06

Once you've locked onto it, I want you to take it out on the end of

0:26:110:26:14

the boom, stop, and we're going

0:26:140:26:16

-to put it back into lane two, please.

-All right.

0:26:160:26:19

OK, it's far enough out on the boom.

0:26:390:26:41

-And drop it back into lane two.

-Right.

0:26:450:26:49

Now for crunch time.

0:26:560:26:58

Ryan needs to carefully manoeuvre the container

0:26:580:27:01

next to another one, without touching it.

0:27:010:27:03

CRASH

0:27:080:27:11

-RYAN LAUGHS NERVOUSLY

-Mmm, dear...

0:27:110:27:13

In crane driving terms, he's committed a major no-no.

0:27:130:27:16

Crashing the boxes together could mean

0:27:160:27:18

thousands of pounds of damage to the container and its contents.

0:27:180:27:23

Landed on the box brilliantly,

0:27:230:27:24

'picked it up nicely without snatching it,'

0:27:240:27:27

and you've just come across a little bit too quickly,

0:27:270:27:29

lost a little bit of control, and he overshot lane two

0:27:290:27:34

and hit the box in lane three.

0:27:340:27:35

I was very disappointed for Ryan, to be honest.

0:27:370:27:40

'He started off very well.

0:27:400:27:42

'He's got to be in complete control.

0:27:420:27:45

If he'd have just slowed down a little bit, a bit more steady,

0:27:450:27:47

he would have been fine.

0:27:470:27:50

OK, Ryan. That's the end of the assessment.

0:27:500:27:52

-We'll head off back towards the classroom.

-OK.

0:27:520:27:54

Ryan's clanger may have put his chance of qualifying in doubt.

0:27:540:27:58

I think Ryan was a little bit nervous.

0:27:580:28:01

He's driven a lot better in training.

0:28:010:28:03

It's going to be a tough decision for myself.

0:28:030:28:06

I'm going to have to think about this one.

0:28:060:28:08

If you want to grab yourself a coffee, I just want to have a chat

0:28:080:28:11

-with Peter about a little bit of an incident.

-OK.

0:28:110:28:14

Richard needs to consider the safety of the workers

0:28:160:28:18

on the ground, and Ryan's ability to control the crane,

0:28:180:28:22

and has decided he needs to get a second opinion.

0:28:220:28:26

He must be having a big chat.

0:28:260:28:28

It can't be good, though.

0:28:290:28:30

-OK, are you ready? We'll go and have a word in the classroom.

-OK.

0:28:340:28:37

RYAN SIGHS

0:28:400:28:42

-Halfway through the assessment, you lost a little bit of control.

-Mmm.

0:28:440:28:49

Unfortunately I can't pass you today.

0:28:490:28:52

I'm going to have to give you another day,

0:28:520:28:54

and we'll have to do the assessment again.

0:28:540:28:55

You know how to drive those cranes. If it wasn't for your nerves today,

0:28:550:28:59

you would have sailed past this test.

0:28:590:29:01

Yep.

0:29:010:29:02

'I can see why he wouldn't be able to pass me for that.'

0:29:020:29:05

But it's the first time it's happened throughout the whole thing,

0:29:050:29:08

so a bit unlucky. I'm a little bit annoyed that I did it.

0:29:080:29:12

I'm gutted for Ryan. I was so hoping that he would do well today.

0:29:120:29:17

I'm probably more upset than he is.

0:29:170:29:20

In such a hazardous environment and with millions of pounds

0:29:200:29:23

of goods at stake, this is not a place where risks can be taken.

0:29:230:29:28

But with a bit more training,

0:29:280:29:30

Ryan did eventually pass his crane driving test.

0:29:300:29:34

Off the coast of Kent, the crew of the Galatea

0:29:380:29:41

has come to the aid of a damaged light vessel.

0:29:410:29:45

It's been taking on water

0:29:450:29:46

and the crew had planned to tow it into harbour for repair.

0:29:460:29:52

But with a hurricane on its way,

0:29:520:29:54

their mission now is just to keep it afloat until the storm passes.

0:29:540:29:58

-OK, Bob. 25 knots south-east it is at the moment. Wind over tide.

-OK.

0:30:010:30:06

But the change of tide is at half past ten as well,

0:30:060:30:08

so there's a slight chance we might be able to get you

0:30:080:30:10

on there by boat. Just to check how much water's in there.

0:30:100:30:13

If we can get across to have a look,

0:30:130:30:15

see if there's been any more water ingressed in the last 24 hours,

0:30:150:30:18

we'll get a good idea then of how it's holding up.

0:30:180:30:22

At present we've got about a two, two-and-a-half metre swell,

0:30:260:30:28

so like I say, once we get out there we can assess the situation.

0:30:280:30:32

Maybe we can get on board. We'll give it our best shot.

0:30:320:30:35

It's going to be a quick operation if we can get on board,

0:30:380:30:41

be quick, in, have a look, pump any water out, and then get off

0:30:410:30:46

as soon as possible, before the weather deteriorates even worse.

0:30:460:30:50

We're going to try and get the chief mate on the lightship.

0:30:540:30:57

If it's too dangerous, then we won't.

0:30:570:30:59

If it looks like it's taking on water,

0:30:590:31:01

then we'll stand by and monitor the situation, regardless of the weather.

0:31:010:31:06

It's soon clear just how bad conditions have become.

0:31:160:31:20

We're getting there.

0:31:370:31:40

Getting on board is not going to be a walk in the park.

0:31:420:31:45

Brace yourself.

0:31:480:31:50

It's managing to hold the athwartships, anyway.

0:31:550:31:58

Good stuff.

0:32:230:32:24

Safely on board, the team must work quickly to check the hold

0:32:290:32:32

where the water is coming in.

0:32:320:32:35

We'll get down there and have a look, see if there's any more water.

0:32:350:32:38

Because the light vessel was pumped dry yesterday,

0:32:480:32:50

they can measure how much water the ship is letting in.

0:32:500:32:54

Bob calculates it's 150 litres, which means it's holding up.

0:32:560:33:00

But he's hoping he's got time to pump it dry again.

0:33:010:33:05

-ON RADIO, MUFFLED:

-..Light vessel, do you have time to get the pump out...

0:33:050:33:10

-or do you want us back?

-OK, how long will it take you to rig that pump?

0:33:100:33:13

-Ten minutes.

-Two seconds, I'll have a look at the tide.

0:33:130:33:16

The changing tide will increase the swell,

0:33:190:33:21

making it even more difficult for the crew to get off.

0:33:210:33:24

I reckon all round, we're going to be here for about an hour,

0:33:260:33:29

'by the time we get off, all told.'

0:33:290:33:31

No, in that case, come off then. Come off.

0:33:310:33:34

-'We haven't got an hour.'

-Aye, aye. OK.

0:33:340:33:36

Yeah, the tide is going to get away shortly.

0:33:360:33:39

I'm not going to be able to keep the ship here to make him a lee.

0:33:390:33:43

And it's going to get rougher. So we need to get them off now.

0:33:430:33:46

We leave him on there an hour,

0:33:480:33:49

there's a chance he's going to be on there 72 hours.

0:33:490:33:52

It's pretty lively.

0:33:550:33:56

Also you've got a 300-tonne light vessel doing one thing,

0:33:560:34:00

a small motorboat, totally different motion.

0:34:000:34:04

It's marginal getting on,

0:34:040:34:06

and obviously the priority now is to get off safely.

0:34:060:34:09

The ideal is to step onto the ladder at the top of the rise,

0:34:100:34:14

and also disembarking, step on at the top of the rise

0:34:140:34:18

because you've got to get on at the bottom,

0:34:180:34:20

and the motorboat then can come up and trap your legs.

0:34:200:34:23

Just hold on!

0:34:270:34:29

OK, easy go, guys.

0:34:310:34:33

Two down, one to go.

0:34:490:34:51

The swell has reached dangerous levels

0:34:520:34:54

and Bob radios the captain for help.

0:34:540:34:57

Yeah, it's really lumpy over here at the moment.

0:34:580:35:00

Is there any chance you could steam across the bow and try and flatten the waves for us?

0:35:000:35:04

We can move the stern 20 metres.

0:35:040:35:06

If he could pass across the bow of the light vessel,

0:35:080:35:11

then that will calm the waves down,

0:35:110:35:13

and give us the clearing to be able to get on safely.

0:35:130:35:16

All ahead.

0:35:210:35:22

-OK, I'm on.

-Last one off. OK, let's get out of here.

0:35:280:35:31

I hope my babies get to see this,

0:35:410:35:43

and see what Daddy does for a living.

0:35:430:35:45

HE LAUGHS

0:35:450:35:47

The crew is happy that the light vessel is secure,

0:35:470:35:50

for the time being.

0:35:500:35:51

But with Hurricane Bertha now in full swing,

0:35:510:35:54

they'll have to wait for another opportunity

0:35:540:35:56

to take it in for repair.

0:35:560:35:58

It's thanks to the hard work of agencies like Trinity House

0:36:010:36:04

that the Channel is kept safe for those who use it for recreation.

0:36:040:36:08

Away you go. Good luck.

0:36:080:36:11

And just off the coast of Weymouth, two skippers are going head-to-head

0:36:110:36:14

in an historic fishing competition to catch the mighty conger eel.

0:36:140:36:18

Once a popular delicacy,

0:36:190:36:21

they have now almost disappeared from the UK menu, and with

0:36:210:36:25

sustainability concerns, most of the fish caught here are thrown back.

0:36:250:36:29

Carol Denning is one of the few women taking part.

0:36:320:36:36

It's only my third time I've actually fished

0:36:360:36:38

in the conger eel competition.

0:36:380:36:40

I am the only lady on this boat today,

0:36:400:36:42

and they all treat me like one of the lads. That's really good.

0:36:420:36:45

My biggest catch so far is about 55lb, 56lb.

0:36:450:36:49

So yeah, I'm very happy with that.

0:36:490:36:53

Angler Paul Maris holds the record for catching the heaviest eel

0:36:530:36:57

in the history of this competition,

0:36:570:36:59

weighing in at 91lb.

0:36:590:37:01

Well, I've been fishing for over 50 years.

0:37:030:37:05

So it's practice makes perfect, isn't it?

0:37:050:37:07

And he's setting his standards high.

0:37:070:37:10

Certainly there are bigger eels down there,

0:37:100:37:13

so I think it wouldn't surprise me to see a 100lb conger come up,

0:37:130:37:16

which is what really we're all after.

0:37:160:37:19

After five hours at sea, everyone is desperate to catch a giant conger.

0:37:190:37:23

If we get a big one on, everyone else has got to give as much

0:37:240:37:28

priority to the angler as they can. Don't wait for us to move you. Move!

0:37:280:37:34

Get out and away!

0:37:340:37:35

If we get a big eel on, they are just hard-fighting fish.

0:37:380:37:42

Trying to get a big'un gives the other anglers a buzz.

0:37:430:37:48

Anything can happen, you know. Fingers crossed, really.

0:37:490:37:54

But, yeah, hopefully we'll get the big one. That's what it's all about.

0:37:540:37:58

Come round the back, come round the back.

0:37:580:38:01

And on skipper Paul's boat,

0:38:010:38:03

it looks like his knowledge of the area is starting to pay off.

0:38:030:38:07

Nice eel coming now, Paul.

0:38:070:38:09

-Now they've just got to get it on board.

-We have a special net.

0:38:140:38:18

-There's a way we do this.

-Just get hold of that leader, mate. Grab it.

0:38:180:38:22

Try and go over the top. Try and come underneath. That's it.

0:38:230:38:27

That's right, over his head.

0:38:270:38:29

-What a start.

-Good, good.

-Whoo!

0:38:350:38:37

Scales...

0:38:480:38:49

When a giant conger is caught, the boats take a reference weight,

0:38:490:38:53

but the official weigh-ins will take place in the harbour.

0:38:530:38:57

-About 61, 62.

-62lb.

0:38:570:39:00

One of Paul's jobs as skipper is to let other competing boats

0:39:010:39:05

know the size, so that smaller fish can be thrown back.

0:39:050:39:08

Are we going to keep him? Yeah.

0:39:090:39:12

Aye, aye, any boats in the Weymouth Conger Festival, Offshore Rebel,

0:39:130:39:17

62lb, 65lb,

0:39:170:39:18

something like that, is our best eel just come in.

0:39:180:39:21

Those eels that are kept will be sold

0:39:210:39:24

and the proceeds given to charity.

0:39:240:39:27

Let's get these baits going, see if we can get a big'un.

0:39:270:39:29

-Over on Adrian's boat, they're still to land a whopper.

-Argh!

0:39:290:39:34

God.

0:39:340:39:35

But it looks like that might be about to change.

0:39:380:39:41

-Looks a nice fish there, doesn't it?

-Steady, steady...

0:39:410:39:45

Getting a conger to take the bait is only the start of the battle.

0:39:450:39:48

Oooh, yeah.

0:39:480:39:49

The angler needs to pull the fish to the surface quickly

0:39:490:39:52

before it can wrap itself around the wreck.

0:39:520:39:54

Keep moving back.

0:39:540:39:56

Whoo hoo!

0:40:050:40:07

A strong fish. That was hard work, that one. They do fight well.

0:40:170:40:22

But it's a competition, so it's good for the boat.

0:40:220:40:25

This could be a winning fish.

0:40:270:40:29

-65.

-Ooh!

0:40:320:40:33

Both skippers have landed mega eels, but with up to 100 anglers

0:40:330:40:37

and eight boats taking part over three days,

0:40:370:40:40

who will come out on top?

0:40:400:40:42

Time, gentlemen and ladies.

0:40:440:40:46

There we go, well done.

0:40:460:40:48

It's now a race back to the harbour for their massive congers

0:40:500:40:53

-to be weighed.

-Homeward bound.

0:40:530:40:56

They have to be docked by 6pm, or they'll be disqualified.

0:40:560:40:59

Five minutes to the harbour entrance.

0:40:590:41:01

Skipper Paul is cutting it fine, but he's confident.

0:41:010:41:05

16:51 arrival, five minutes to go up to the mooring, giving us

0:41:050:41:10

four minutes to leap off the boat and get to the weigh-in.

0:41:100:41:13

-First eel, Atlanta.

-Yeah?

0:41:130:41:17

59.5.

0:41:170:41:19

All the fish caught over the three-day competition

0:41:190:41:21

are weighed in.

0:41:210:41:24

Offshore Rebel, Mr Maris.

0:41:240:41:26

-60.5.

-60.5?

-60.5.

0:41:260:41:30

-Is this Wild Frontier?

-Yes.

-58.

0:41:300:41:32

That's a surprise. Very good, isn't it?

0:41:320:41:34

-Adrian, Al's Spirit, 64.

-Oh!

0:41:360:41:40

The final results are in.

0:41:440:41:46

Paul appears to have appointed himself as skipper

0:41:490:41:51

of the whole event.

0:41:510:41:53

Thank you for coming to Weymouth.

0:41:550:41:58

CHEERING

0:41:580:41:59

This is the 20th anniversary of this auspicious occasion,

0:42:000:42:05

and you are very lucky...

0:42:050:42:07

And now for the moment the Weymouth seafarers have been waiting for.

0:42:070:42:10

This is what the competition's all about.

0:42:100:42:12

This year's Conger Champion, with a fish of 81lb,

0:42:120:42:16

please put your hands together

0:42:160:42:18

for Tony Denning from Offshore Rebel.

0:42:180:42:21

Tony, an angler on Paul's boat,

0:42:210:42:23

has landed the biggest fish of the competition,

0:42:230:42:26

and handed the title of Top Skipper to Paul for the sixth time.

0:42:260:42:30

It's always nice to win.

0:42:310:42:33

What's the point in doing a competition

0:42:330:42:34

-if you don't try your hardest to win? Pointless.

-Disappointing for me,

0:42:340:42:38

hero to zero.

0:42:380:42:40

Next year's another three days, so it's a fresh start.

0:42:400:42:44

And having proven his skippering skills once again,

0:42:440:42:48

is Paul now ready to weigh anchor for good?

0:42:480:42:50

Well, I keep threatening to retire.

0:42:520:42:54

But there might be another year or two left in me before I do.

0:42:540:42:59

Today, Paul is King Of The Congers.

0:42:590:43:01

But from tomorrow he'll be back to his day job, charter fishing.

0:43:010:43:05

Just one of the hundreds of craft, big and small,

0:43:060:43:10

that populate our bustling national waterway.

0:43:100:43:13

In this episode, lighthouse engineers battle a hurricane. The Corporation of Trinity House is the organisation responsible for managing and maintaining over 500 lighthouses and buoys that mark out the shipping lanes and warn ships away from the channel's hazards. The team on Trinity House's flagship, the Galatea, are called out to a damaged light vessel which is marking a hazardous sandbank in the Dover Straits. But their mission to tow it into harbour for repair becomes increasingly perilous when Hurricane Bertha closes in on the channel.

In Southampton's busy docks, 30 cranes work day and night to unload the 100 million tonnes of freight that come into the UK every year. But they are 400 feet tall and learning to drive them is not an easy job, as trainee dock worker Ryan soon finds out.

And off the coast of Weymouth, two rival skippers go head to head in an epic big fish competition. Over three days every year, up to a hundred anglers compete to catch one of the channel's largest native fish - the mighty conger eel. With 50 years maritime experience, Paul Whittle has been top skipper five times - but can rival Adrian Brown steal his crown?