Guernsey is a small Island community with a population of 62,431. Within the Bailiwick of Guernsey lie the smaller Islands of Alderney, Sark and Herm. Being an Island Community means that we are dependent on shipping for 98 per cent of our supplies. Only a small percentage comes in by air (mostly mail and newspapers), with items such as food, fuel, retail products and building materials making up the majority of “essential” commodities that come to the Islands by ship.” (8 March 2012 prepared for UK parliament select committee by Bailiwick of Guernsey.)
Here I am embarking on a trip to Guernsey on board the Huelin Dispatch courtesy of Channel Island Lines, the main lifeline for those living on the Island.
Perhaps the Guernesiases are more aware than us in mainland Britain of their dependence on the sea for their day to day life?
The Dispatch is a ship I’ve visited on several occasions and the owner, captain Frank Allen has kindly invited me aboard his well-appointed vessel to make this ministry trip to the churches in Guernsey. I couldn’t have hoped for a better day.
The temperatures are set to soar and a smooth crossing is predicted. The only problems I’ve had today were the complete closure of the A31 across the New Forest – but fortunately I had left myself with plenty of time to absorb the hour’s delay; then, arriving at the berth, I nearly jammed the turnstile entrance into Channel Island Lines compound. With a computer on my back, and a Sailors’ Society hold-all in one hand, I tried to negotiate my wheeled suitcase through with me. I had visions of being trapped and forgotten whilst the ship sailed; but with a final injection, of strength worthy of the Incredible Hulk, the mechanism yielded and I was launched out in the right direction. I was able to regather myself and check in to the offices before cautiously proceeding to the gangway, past the towering container-lifting cranes.
Once aboard I was greeted by a friendly crew member who took me to my cabin and then guided me around the ship.
Captain Frank gave me unlimited access and told me to feel at home. Being on the bridge with him and the First and Second Mate was a privilege as the ship was expertly guided astern from its berth. We were underway.
Returning to my cabin I unpacked and got ready for supper, which was a spicy seafood dish prepared by the chef. The captain says a good cook keeps the crew together. He’s right. Light is fading, we prepare to round the Needles. A great day with a happy crew on a well-appointed boat.