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Unorthodox Crossings

All our (Pedro Boats / Dover Sea School / Seacraft) vessels are registered with the CS&PF and with the British & French Coastguards as Channel pilot escort craft. We have been registered as Channel escort vessels since 1980 and have over 30 years experiance.

We are still able to submit crossing attempts that are escorted by one of our register craft and ceretificated pilots.
Unorthdox crossings are all different in the way they are set up. Any quotqation is dependant on the craft and the crews / teams making the attempt.
Our e-mail contact is michael.oram@btinternet.com.
Our phone / fax number is
01843 852858 if phoning from within the UK or
+44 1843852858 if phoning from abroard.
07860812591 -- mobile
For further assistance place contact us direct.


As of the 2nd September 2009 the French authorities changed the rules. T he new rules have just about been agreed and clarified, we are still talking to them reference the implications.

We were told all future application will have to be made on a bi-lingual, formal form that would have to be submitted to the new office in Cherbourg. This office will then reply in writing once the application has been accessed. Up until the 2nd September we could sort out the paperwork and register crossing attempts from within the CS&PF/ Pedro Boat / Seacraft framework. It looks like this system will remain for registered Channel Pilot escot boats.

All crossing attempts have to be registered with the British and French Coastguard authorities and escorted by a commercially certificated pilot boat and qualified pilot that is registered with and recognised by them.
The French authorities usually insist on 1 escort boat for each vessels crossing. We have however negotiated for kayaks and canoes to travel in groups of 2 per escort boat providing they stay together.

The 2011 fee for a 1-way crossing attempt, be it rowing or by kayak / canoe is around £1350 per escort boat and it's crew depending on exactly what the escorted group want to do. (Go to Calais afterwards or return to Dover etc.)

If you want to hire one of our Cornish Pilor Gigs for your row this can be arranged and will be priced according to what you would like to happen. These craft will also be avilable for training rows.

A Cornish Pilot Gig is about 34foot long, fast slim, strong rowing craft with excellent sea keeping qualities. They have proven themselves over the years and they were orriginally used by the Channel pilots to race to incomming ships to offer their piloting services. Our craft are GRP versions of the traditional wooden boats.

Latest information from the MCGA reference Unorthordox crossings is below.

From: Dover Coastguards
Date: Ref: Kaimes Beasley 16th December 2009 UC/KB/1209

1. General
1.1 In the past, many attempts have been made to cross the Dover Strait by unconventional means and/or in unorthodox craft. It is true to say that few of these attempts have ended in tragedy and many have been made for the most laudable reasons. Nevertheless anyone thinking of making such an attempt in the future should take into account the following factors before proceeding with their plans and perhaps incurring unnecessary expense.
2. The Dover Strait
2.1 The Dover Strait is the busiest shipping lane in the world. Many of the ships passing through the Strait carry dangerous cargoes. These cargoes, if accidentally released into the sea, could have disastrous effects on the environment, marine life and the coastlines of England, France and the North Sea States.
2.2 The passage of ships through the Dover Strait is further complicated by the presence of strong tides, sandbanks, shoals and a great deal of concentrated cross-channel traffic. Much of the crossing traffic is made up of high-speed ferries carrying as many as 2400 passengers.
2.3 The very large vessels passing through the Strait can be difficult to manoeuvre. They may take several miles to stop or turn. Some new container vessels are 318 metres long, 42 metres wide and service speed is 24 knots (27+ mph -- 44+ km). They have to commit themselves to a course of action long before they can see a swimmer or detect on radar his escort boat, a small rowing dinghy or any other small craft.
2.4 Weather conditions in the Strait are liable to rapid change. Even in comparatively light winds, the strong tides can give rise to rough seas with steep breaking waves. Visibility is often poor, changing quickly to dense fog, even in strong or gale-force winds, rendering navigation difficult.

3. Traffic Separation Scheme
3.1 Recognising the dangers of navigation in the Dover Strait, a Traffic Separation Scheme, approved by the International Maritime Organisation, has been established. Two lanes akin to motorways run through the Strait for inward and outward-bound traffic.
3.2 The Rules for navigating in or near a Traffic Separation Scheme are internationally agreed. The basic guidelines to be followed are set out in Rule 10 of the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions)(Amendment) Regulations 1991.
3.3 Taking into account that the word 'vessel' includes every description of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. Rules 10(c) and 10(j) of the Regulations are particularly relevant to any plans to cross the Strait in an unorthodox craft or by unconventional means.
3.4 Rule 10(c) first requires that a vessel shall so far as practicable avoid crossing traffic lanes or a Traffic Separation Scheme. Secondly, it requires that if a vessel is obliged to cross traffic lanes it should do so steering at right angles to the direction of traffic flow.
3.5 Rule 10 (j) requires that a vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.

4. National Laws
4.1 The National Laws of both France and the United Kingdom require compliance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (see para 3.2).
4.2 In addition, according to French law, vessels are classified according to their characteristics, such as beach amusement craft, which in French waters are not allowed to sail more than 300 metres from the coast. Moreover French Law makes it compulsory for organisers of any regattas, racing events, etc., to inform the French Administration in advance.

5. Unconventional Crossings of the Dover Strait in Unorthodox Craft
5.1 Most of the unorthodox craft used in attempts to cross the Dover Strait are very small and have limited speed and ability to manoeuvre. They are not adequate for deep-sea navigation in a heavy traffic area. Their presence, or that of a group of them in the Dover Strait, will dangerously impede the vessels in the traffic lanes and may lead to a marine casualty.
5.2 It is the view of the Anglo/French Safety of Navigation Group that such crossings are highly irresponsible, and that potential participants must be persuaded to look for a challenge elsewhere, in areas where they do not constitute a hazard to other people going about their lawful activities.
5.3 As clearly stated in 4.2 above the Maritime Prefect of the Channel and the North Sea has issued an order (No 14/93) expressly forbidding swimming and associated activity of an unorthodox nature within the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme, within French territorial waters. The sole events excluded from the prohibition are those Cross Channel swimming attempts organised and approved by the Channel Swimming Association (CSA) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF).
5.4 Unorthodox craft, which are characterised by slow speed and poor or non-existent manoeuvrability, such as tyres, bathtubs, rafts and pedalos, are not authorised to proceed more than 300 metres from the French coast. As a consequence they do not have the right to sail in French territorial waters within the Pas de Calais Traffic Separation Scheme. The French Maritime Authorities prohibit crossings of the Pas de Calais by unorthodox craft setting out from the French coast. The same applies to beach pleasure craft. However, in exceptional cases the French Maritime Authorities may grant authority for unorthodox craft to cross French territorial waters within the Traffic Separation Scheme when these craft set off from the British coast on condition that the request for authorisation is sent to them with the opinion of the British Maritime Authorities.
The address where requests for permission should be sent to the French Maritime Administration is shown below under 'IMPORTANT ADDRESSES'. It should be noted that as of September 2009, the French Maritime Authority require written requests only and that telephone or email enquires will not be responded to.
5.5 If however, after the above advice you still intend to proceed with an unconventional crossing, for example by swimming in or under the water or in any craft, structure or floating object other than a vessel adapted or intended to be used for a sea voyage, you should:
(a) Be aware you may contravene French Law and be subsequently apprehended and charged by the French Authorities;
(b) Be aware that you could be faced with liability for damages if you contributed to an incident involving other persons or vessels, and should consider obtaining insurance cover against such events;
(c) Inform both Dover MRCC or CROSS Gris Nez of the plan;
(d) Use an escort boat properly equipped to ensure the safety of your crossing and which complies with the Merchant Shipping (Small Work Boats and Pilot Boats) Regulations.
(e) Be aged 16 or over on the date of the attempt.


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
HM Coastguard,
Langdon Battery Swingate
CT15 5NA Tel:
+44 (0)1304 218500 (Office hours) +44 (0)1304 210008 (H24) Fax:
+44 (0)1304 218505 (Office hours) +44 (0)1304 202137 (H24)
Email: channel.navigation@mcga.gov.uk wm.dover@mcga.gov.uk (H24)
Web site: www.mcga.gov.uk

Requests for permission:
Channel Crossing Permissions Division action de l'Etat en mer
50115 Cherbourg
Octeville CEDEX
CROSS Gris-Nez Audinghen
62179 Wissant
Telephone: (00 33) 3 21 87 21 87 Fax: (00 33) 3 21 87 78 55

Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation (CS&PF)
Secretary: Michael Oram
12 Vale Square
CT11 9BX
Tel: +44 (0)1843 852858
Email: michael.oram@btinternet.com
Website: http://www.channelswimming.net

Channel Swimming Association (CSA)
Secretary: Julie Bradshaw
Tel/fax: + 44 (0)1509 554137
Email: swimsecretary@ntlworld.com
Website: http://www.channelswimmingassociation.com

Channel Crossing Association (CCA)
Secretary: Andy King
Tel: +44 (0)1622 207134
Email: seakingboat@btinternet.com
Website: http://www.channelcrossingassociation.com

CNIS Manager Dover MRCC
DDI: +44 1304 218503
MOB: +44 7730 812921
FAX: +44 1304 218505


Reference original information from the MCA

Coastguards advisory information sheet for Unorthordox crossings
This artical is reproduced with permission of the MCA and is taken from their website --- www.mcga.gov.UK

Click on the link for direct access to the CNIS information page. Eneter "Unorthodox crossings" in the search panel.

The page is -- http://www.mcga.gov.uk ------ HM Coastguards / CNIS - Dover Strait unorthdox crossing information Unorthodox Crossing of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme
Please read the full artical on the MCGA web site to make sure you are aware of the latest updates
This artical is Copyright Maritime and Coastguard Agency General & is reproduced with their permission.