…the Sevenstones Lightship from THV ‘Galatea’ is a ticklish business. I joined the maintenance team from the Trinity House flagship, who were going aboard on a routine visit. Along with them went two lads from the Met Office, tasked with checking the weather-watching gear aboard. Some of it a bit long in the tooth, but still serviceable. Anyway, as we came alongside a frightful screeching arose, seemingly from nowhere. Couldn’t work out what it was, as we rose up and down in the swell awaiting the right moment to seize the fixed ladder to get aboard. Ticklish really is the word for this seemingly simple manoeuvre – one slip between boat and ship and you’re lucky to get away with just a broken leg. And the screeching? The ship’s bird scarer, to keep pooping seabirds from doing it on deck!
One of Trinity House Vessel (‘THV’) Galatea’s key tasks is maintaining lightships. This (picture) is the Sevenstones Lightship, off the Isles of Scilly. Once manned, but now fully automated, like Trinity House’s remarkable lighthouse network, the Sevenstones Lightship rides the waves day in and day out; warning mariners off one of the most dangerous landfalls – against stiff competition – in the British Isles. Automated maybe, but as always there’s no substitute for hands-on checking; the illimitable power of the oceans can do strange things and great damage to any ship, and particularly to one that must sit at anchor and take whatever storms Old Father Neptune may summon. And with the Scilly Isles the UK point of arrival for the giant energies the Atlantic has gathered across its 106,460,000 square kilometres, Sevenstones has to be tough to tough it out…
On board Trinity House Vessel (‘THV’) ‘Galatea’, work is made all the easier by the “We never close” approach of the galley, who serve up good-to-eat meals on the dot every day, breakfast, lunch and supper at times suitable for the “rise and shine” approach of the ship’s company. Chef Kevin Taylor and Junior Catering Rating Jack Oliver (picture) and their colleagues see to it that there’s something available 24/7 if you need a snack, along with fresh fruit, soft drinks, tea, coffee and all the toast anyone could want. Important, as a lot of the deckhand work is heavy duty: not just the normal ship handling tasks, in all weathers, but the skilled effort needed for buoy, lightship and lighthouse maintenance – ‘Galatea’s all year-round duty. Getting that done requires the right human fuel. And as for those flapjacks!
This (picture) is Tony Mack, Catering Manager, THV ’Galatea’. If you have a comfortable, and well-fed time aboard the Trinity House flagship (and you will) it’ll be thanks to Tony and his team. There is another watch with an equivalent team for when Tony & Co are on leave, but we didn’t meet up with them. Actually, ‘Catering Manager’ is a real understatement, as Tony manages all the home comforts side of life on board, from cabin allocation to laundry and supplies – all that’s needed to keep a happy ship, happy. Tony also has to look after guests many a top hotel would be very proud indeed to welcome – from the distinguished ‘Elder Brethren’ of Trinity House, right up to royalty, when Princess Anne the Princess Royal, Master of ‘The House’, comes aboard for an inspection voyage. No pressure, then…
More sea time with Trinity House Vessel Galatea, to capture more cadets at sea undergoing training. Deck Cadet Abbie Sanders (picture) among those on board this time, and on departure from Lowestoft she worked with the line handling team on the foredeck. One of the key aspects of the sea training that we’ve seen with Trinity House cadets is the way they have been seamlessly woven into the life of the ship’s company, with the highly professional crews and their officers making them welcome and helping them understand their work. The feedback we’ve got has been absolutely consistent, as we’ve been able to talk freely with the many cadets we’ve filmed: they all say the ‘T.H.’ scheme provides great opportunities, not least in the widely different types of ship that can be experienced during training. A benchmark hard to beat.
Can we really get through this? This being the lock leading out of Swansea which Trinity House Vessel ‘Galatea’ must go through to get to the open sea. We’re leaving at night – no pilot available till then – which gives opportunities for some dramatic night shots (cameras just lurve lights shining across a night-time dockside, dark sea beyond…) They’ll go well in our film about Trinity House cadet training, ‘Not Just the Day Job’. It was certainly a good call to wait on for the pilot as it doesn’t look like much more than a strictly limited number of feet (inches…?) between dockside and ship. A certain mount of gulping from yours truly, but on the bridge, calm reigns, as Captain Darren Peterson drives his ship out into the Bristol Channel from the starboard control panel. Without a hitch – or scrape.
Rob is a TV producer, reporter and camera operator with 30 years’ experience at the BBC, Channel 4 and ITN, in news, factual and documentary production. He is a four times award winner, whose awards include a coveted Royal Television Society award for his work on Channel 4 News. His association with The Maritime Foundation goes back to 1995, when he won the first Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award for a series of reports that led to a major documentary on the loss of the bulk carrier Derbyshire.
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