Eco Adventure on Proposed Sail-powered Bike and Foot Ferry From Dover to Boulogne

22nd September 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 306: Eco Adventure on Proposed Sail-powered Bike and Foot Ferry From Dover to Boulogne

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Andrew Simons, Brandt Williamson, Robert Tickner, Tom Treasure, Caroline Tyndall, Wayne Godfrey

TOPIC: A pioneering wind-powered cross-channel ferry for cyclists and pedestrians from Dover to Boulogne operated by startup SailLink had a series of test runs earlier in September, and Carlton Reid was on the first crossing to northern France. SailLink plans to commission a bespoke craft for its 12-passenger service, but the demonstration crossings used a smaller vessel, the Mago Merlino, a 12-metre catamaran certified to carry six paying passengers and two bicycles.



Tres Hombres

Guardian article


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 306 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was published on Thursday 22nd of September 2022.

David Bernstein 0:23
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even caring another adult, visit www.tern That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:06
That’s the unmistakable roar of a Merlin engine

of a Spitfire, and that was coming from Biggin Hill, taking people on £3000 jollies over the White Cliffs of Dover. And that’s exactly what I’m looking at right now. I’m looking at Dover castle. I’m looking at the White Cliffs of Dover. And I’m looking at some ferries.

And I’m going to be going on a ferry very shortly from Dover Marina.

But not P&O, not DFDS. I’m going on a new ferry company, SailLink

And SailLink is taking cyclists and pedestrians across the channel from here in Dover Marina to Bolougne, in France, but not using big old boats.

The roll on roll off motorcar ferries, this is only for cyclists and only for pedestrians. And it’s a sailboat ferry. So it’s going to be the eco way of getting across the channel. And I’m waiting in the marina here for Andrew, who is taking his boat out.

For a bit of a test. He’s going to come back into the marina, very shortly. I’m gonna be getting on and I’ll be putting my Tern S8i onto the ferry. I’m guessing other guests is going to be joining us. And we’re going to be going across to France.

Andrew Simons 2:56
This is

Toby the Skipper.

Okay, you can pull up your head and lines on the floor.

Toby Duerden 3:08
Yeah. Right. So wear life jackets the whole time we’ve gotten just behind you that

Andrew Simons 3:15
I am Andrew Benjamin Simons Stolz.

Carlton Reid 3:19
we’re in the we’re not quite in the middle. Where are we in?

Andrew Simons 3:21
We’re not in the middle of the channel about where we are just coming in to the southwest bound shipping lane of the traffic separation scheme of the Dover streets.

Carlton Reid 3:35
Is that a dangerous place for us to be

Andrew Simons 3:38
Potentially, but there are very clear clear rules and for what we’re doing, and we all have a lot of equipment on board to avoid collisions. So there’s a lot going on. I don’t disagree. This is a really intense area if you look on a website like marine traffic and then focus in on the Dover Strait, all you will see is dots of ships. But that is not those those those markers on the website and not in real size, but it makes it look like there’s no way through it. But you can look around here. There’s lots of space, there are ships coming at us. But we can avoid those quite happily what we’re doing is perfectly permissible.

And we’ve followed the rules for doing what we’re doing. And there is plenty of space for this.

Carlton Reid 4:28
Toby has knocked the engine off now it’s the engine was ticking over to charge charge the engine basically

Andrew Simons 4:34
That was to charge the batteries we had some issue earlier. Yeah, that somehow for some reason the batteries not the engine battery, but the battery we have for things on board had drained quite a lot. So we were just charging up again. But now we have a hydro generator running in the water behind us because

Carlton Reid 4:51
you’ve got solar power,

Andrew Simons 4:52
we’ve got solar and now because we’re going along at a good speed there’s a good wind, we can drop this hydro generator in the water behind

us it’s not going to impact on our speed at all. And it’s going to charge the batteries using all using the wind.

Carlton Reid 5:06
And the wind is powering the sail.

Andrew Simons 5:08
Exactly. So we have a, we have an engine now above us in the form of the sails. And we have a fuel in the form of the wind that is blowing onto those. And it’s, it’s readily available for us and for the next person to use.

Carlton Reid 5:24
So Brandt there is walking. Yes. From here. Yeah, I’m cycling to and from here. So we’re green, the power that you’re generating from the solar and from the, from the hydro generator

And obviously the sails

Andrew Simons 5:41
Yes. Also, yeah.

Carlton Reid 5:42
Is that basically your schtick? You are taking people across who are pedestrians and cyclists using a green method. Is that is that that is at your sales pitch?

Andrew Simons 5:54
It isn’t actually no, it isn’t because we have to be careful of economies of scale. And if we would really do the calculation, you know, you’ve heard as we’ve on this vessel, we have one diesel engine and one electric engine, but the diesel one is more powerful. We use that to get in and out of the entrances to the to the ports where there’s tide running and things. So, you know, if we would boil it down and look at the co2, for example, or greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre, we’re demanding, depending on how you’re doing, we might not be any better than a ferry. But it all depends how you make that calculation. And actually, I’ve worked in that field. So I know how complex and often misleading those calculations can be. So and the other reason I don’t sell it primarily on that basis is because we all have to go in the direction of being environmentally friendly, and reducing our impacts, also the big ferries. So if I, if that is my sales pitch in a few years, I hope I will lose my sales pitch, if that is it.

So I have to have other ones to keep my business unique and to keep that competitive advantage. And I believe that that that sales pitch is based on the experience,

but also provide in

connection with not only with the culturally with the places we’re going to and from, but also with the ocean we crossing we have in a completely different experience of the ocean, of the winds, you’ve already learned, I think just in this short time, an incredible amount about how a boat works and what we need to look out for. And what we’re using in order to get across. You’ve heard about tides, about winds, we’re using those natural prevailing conditions to get ourselves across. Yes, we have to use a little bit of fuel. But in the future, we’re also going to reduce that hopefully down to purely electric and be able to charge some of that onboard or recharge overnight at the the pontoon. And hopefully their sources of electricity are also going to be quite green.

Carlton Reid 8:14
So, how many people can you fit on here because this is not going to be the eventual boat?

Andrew Simons 8:18
This is yeah, this is this is

an interim boat. Yeah, this is purely for the pilot phase. And also I’ve used this boat in the past in the last couple of years with its skipper-owner, to explore the possibilities here and to to do the crossings and to yeah, really just run the feasibility on it.

Carlton Reid 8:41
Feasibility of it with the next boat is how many passengers?

Brendt Williamson

Andrew Simons 8:46
12, 12 People 12 passengers is a reg is an international maritime limit. Which means we’re actually if we stay with a maximum of 12 We’re not actually a passenger vessel, we’re not classed as a passenger vessel. And that means that we can use in theory any port we like we don’t need to go to a big ferry terminal in order to put our passengers through the passenger cross border procedures with a limit of 12 of course you are still a passenger on board. But we are permitted then to use a marina a harbour. And with good collaboration the border authorities, the agents come to us

or if it’s not possible we send out and they need. For example if a UK passenger is going to France now they must get stamped into France. And if the border authorities don’t come to meet us in France, then the passenger needs to go to

Calais to the port authorities and get their passport stamped in your case. You’re doing a very quick turnaround. It doesn’t matter it’s

it’s quite fine for us to arrive or a person to drive on

on this boat

on late in the evening, like we’re doing today and say, I’m going to go tomorrow, that’s alright. You don’t need to get your Passport, passport some immediately as you step off the boat. It’s just not practical. And they are very, they’re very pragmatic about it. But you do need to pretty much go straight there as soon as you can.

Carlton Reid 10:19
Now this this, this crossing isn’t the choppiest in the world.

But it still to me chopp to me compared to when I’m on one of those big boats.

Andrew Simons 10:28
Okay, yeah. Yeah, there’s some movement.

Carlton Reid 10:31
And that’s giving me a fresh appreciation of these these refugees in their tiny inflatables who are getting even worse bobbed

around the sea than than we are. So

what? How are you viewed by both border authorities? And secondly,

if you see

them coming across, did they come this way? What do you have to do?

Andrew Simons 10:59
Okay. Yeah. So to the first question, I had exactly the same sort of

anxiety about posing this concept, this very concept to the border agents thinking, they were just telling me, please, we have enough on our plates don’t come with this kind of thing. But I absolutely got completely the contrary, they greeted me with

welcome and enthusiasm for what I’m doing. And because I really, I spent the time of COVID really following up

on the regulations and making those connections and finding out how can we design this according to, to stay within the regulations we need. If we’re to operate the ferry day in day out, we have no other option but to work within those boundaries. And it’s only going to make our lives more easier if we, if we really cooperate, and if we can get them on our side and they cooperate with us. So I put a lot of effort into that before I really went to the public on this.

So actually, yes, you say, I actually, I did get a very warm welcome. And we’ve had a lot of exchanges and we found a way to do it. We’ve had them on the boat for discussion. I’ve been to the port to Police aux Frontiers offices in Calais now at least twice, to discuss with them. And they’re very, all very pragmatic and obliging.

And then to the to the, to the migrant issue, it is a very, very, very sad situation. It’s a very

personally, I feel a very, very sad reflection on on the UK

using its castle,

not only its castle status, but that castle.

fact that it is surrounded by this moat of the English Channel and they require

by not having an asylum procedure on the French coast, they they make these people have to cross the channel in order to claim asylum on French or English shores. But yes, they do not know what they’re getting themselves into, really, they launching themselves out into the channel into conditions that I really doubt they understand fully tides with the currents, the weather, the distance, where they’re going, how are they going to get there?

And yeah, the Dover straits is not a friendly place for the wheel now is this this is absolutely yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. But that now they’re apparently they’re departing from quite a long stretch along the French coast are no longer focused on Calais

So that could be going southwest, passable on it could be going east, east, past to Dunkirk, you know, so, and then with the tides taken them back and forth, they could be they can find themselves anywhere within quite a large area and thereby a long way from shore if they’re not really on that Calais to Dover stretch, they can be a long way from shore.

Carlton Reid 14:18
And then what do you have to do if you spot them?

Andrew Simons 14:20
We are under obligation every ship passing the Dover straits operating in the Dover straits is under obligation to report to Dover Coast Guard, or to Cap Gris Nez on the French side, sightings of small boats.

There’s a little bit of

interpretation there because you know, anybody is allowed to be out at sea. And just because you say to small boat doesn’t mean you have to get reported. I mean, people do go around the world and all sorts of tiny things, but they don’t need to be reported as doing something wrong, you know. So these people are putting themselves out to sea in. What they are doing is something

are unsafe for themselves.

And so anyway, the first thing is, are they in danger.

So we spot one a little way off, we have the obligation to report it,

we might see people on it, we might not see people, any people on it depends how far away we are from it. And it can also be the case that the people have already been collected by the border agents, and the boat has actually been left in the water.

And I’ve had that now a couple of times that we’ve gone to investigate, and there’s been nobody on board, it’s just a drifting boat, no sign of anybody, they’ve probably been picked up. And actually, then if they if that is the case, then the border agents, mark the vessel, the votes were the number and

and that’s it, if there are people on board, then we have to think of our own safety first, were also quite a small vessel. And depending on how many they are, they can endanger our boat, if we somehow go to their rescue, and

we, you know, we can’t take an unlimited number of people on board, and that would endanger our own seaworthiness.

So we have to assess the situation, if there are people in the water, that’s a different issue, then, you know, everybody is obliged, under maritime law to go to the aid of people in distress. And that’s just what we have to do, regardless of who they are.

But we do have to be careful of our own safety, if there’s 50 people on board, we just cannot take all those people in the water, we can’t take them all on board. So but the you know, we’re in a very small, relatively small area of water. So if we report it, the the Coast Guard’s are going to be here, probably even almost just as quick as if we go to them. So we would stand by and make sure nobody is really suffering, and wait for them to arrive. And then we carry on. Okay.

And just to add to that, I don’t want to also in this whole SailLink thing I don’t want to,

I don’t want to make too much of it is it is a sorry, situation. And I would like to help their plight wherever I can

legally within what we’re permitted to do and

within the tolerance of the ports and the authorities that we’re working with. But

I also don’t want to make some sort of migrant safari out of this sailing issue that people come on board and are thinking they’re going to see migrants and have a look at it. It’s a big thing in the news. And

you know, we hear is reporting to hundreds of people arriving every day on attempting the crossing. What we don’t know is how many do set off?

Carlton Reid 17:45
And how long does it take you to get across with passengers? How long is this trip going to take?

Andrew Simons 17:52
Yeah, well, it depends on the winds today, we have good winds, we set off a little late for the title window that we have, but we should be fine. Now. We can always adjust our course to suit that.

So I think yeah, today we’re easily going to manage that five hour crossing

always takes a little time to leave the ports and to get into the other end. So between harbours Yeah, I think we have a for our Crossing, it’s at maximum, it’s going to be a nice, really nice crossing today. This is, as we’ve said, this boat that we’re using, now it’s a good boat, it’s commercially coated. On paper, it’s ideal, it’s all legal. For doing this in the future we need we need a bit of a faster boat, this has got a accommodation, you know, quite nice accommodation on board, all the facilities, we don’t need that.

We need a larger boat to get 12 people on and potentially their bikes, and to go faster.

A longer boat means going faster.

Carlton Reid 18:54
And then I mean those those big boats over there, they’re year round, you’re gonna be nowhere I can imagine at the moment doing something like from April to October, so Easter to sometime in the autumn.

Andrew Simons 19:09
Because, yeah, in winter, it’s when the big storms arrive. I don’t think many people are going to be wanting to come, we’re going to be setting off in dark in the darkness arriving in darkness.

It’s going to be a bit miserable, the boat will take a lot of beating. You know, it’ll take a lot of wear and tear in the winter. And I don’t think we’ll get much return for that and we need a time off. It’s going to be for the crew quite a demanding job. I hope it’s going to be really really rewarding and good job. But they need a time off in the winter. We need time to just get the boat back in shape for the next season. Make any improvements so no

additions, changes, all that sort of thing.

Carlton Reid 19:52
And how much is it gonna cost?

Andrew Simons 19:55
I don’t know. The moment we’ve got the prices that we’ve published.

And that’s simply based on

me putting that into my calculations, and together with sort of ideas on average passenger numbers and the number of days that we will be sailing, which are based on historical weather data.

But that can all be improved, with a better boat to have a better boat that can handle the conditions that meet, that we can go out in stronger conditions, but the cost the passengers remain comfortable and confident, then we can continue sailing longer, we’ll have clear cut off conditions where we simply say we can’t go out in that. But you know, with modern

today’s weather forecasting, we know about that at least two days in advance, so we can give our passengers prior warning and, and then the contingency plan is, if it’s still not too severe, then they can go on the normal ferry.

Or they can choose to alter the

travel and travel with us another time or they this is the thing I think with people travelling by bikes, and like brand is doing is pilgrimage. I think if people are already on this, they’re already out for some adventure, they have some flexibility with their bikes, I hope we can accommodate we can both work together to to, to build in this flexibility if needed,

without too much

discomfort to people’s plans.

So I think, you know, this sailing isn’t for everybody. I understand that fully. We don’t want everybody we have 12 places.

And but the people I think the people who will be appealing to

may be willing to also accept a little bit of flexibility. You’ve had to wait a little while on the quay till we got there today.

Yeah, but I think I think at the moment, that sort of special nature of the type of travel that it is, is, is okay. Yeah, we’re using natural conditions working with that. And I think I hope the passengers can accept that and tolerate that as well. And it’s also something novel for them, you know, not just to leave, according to a time a timetable

made according to I don’t know what, what, but we have our timetable is designed according to the tides, and that we can plan a year in advance, you know, the tides we know already next year, I don’t know if maybe we’re all

somewhere they’re known already many years in advance, but

so we can plan a year’s schedule. And then if we need to, we vary that a couple of days in advance. At the beginning or for the last year, let’s say we were thinking maybe we need to use have some different ports in mind. For example, on the French side, we have Calais, of course,

on the UK side we there’s not many honestly the either side of of Dover without going up to Ramsgate. There’s rye, which is not very usable for us. But maybe that could be our flexibility that we say okay, the winds are not very good that day, we’re gonna go to rye or we’re gonna go to Cali.

But I think now, it seems to be that by playing with the tides, we can actually

alter our course within this within the same overall course of trying to go between Milan and Dover for example that don’t belong we can we can alter our course

and tack and sail

and use the tides and the winds to still maintain that without I think that there’s more discomfort caused by a complete alteration the same we’re leaving from a different town or we’re going to a different town.

I want to try to avoid that if possible.

Carlton Reid 23:56
What’s your background? Andrew? Where do you come from? Why Why have you done this?

Andrew Simons 24:00
Yeah, well, this is sailing is the answer to my own.

Preferences to travel. I grew up in Yorkshire.

But for the last

quite a few years, I’ve lived in Switzerland.

Now I have a lovely family and home in Switzerland. So for several years now I’ve been travelling between Switzerland and the UK. And obviously, in the early years, I used the plane and I stopped doing that and use the Eurostar

done the ferries. My background is that I was I started off as a wooden boat builder,

working in various places, also went to Switzerland doing boat building actually, funnily enough with the opportunity to work in Bern in this capital city. I’d always worked on the peripheries of the coast. So that was quite an opportunity and then stayed in Switzerland and then I


I went retrained, studied environmental science and worked in the field of lifecycle assessment of transport and energy systems.

And so I guess what I’ve done is to combine all those sorts of things and the awareness through lifecycle assessment, and environmental impacts, human health impacts, all that sort of thing. And my own needs to get back and forth.

What I’ve also done in the last few years, is to revive my boatbuilding.

And to use that to help

cargo sailing

enterprises, there’s now been a resurgence that say of transporting products across the oceans, using sailing vessels. And that’s mainly Fairtrade organic, you know, nicely produced products such as coffee, cacao and rum.

And then selling in the markets in Europe. And they these ships, particularly the Tres Hombres, run by fairtransport, that goes back to Holland every year, after it’s done, its circuits. And then it has a big refit, like a renovation every year. And I go and help with that, because that has a wooden, they have wooden planks on steel frames. So I go and we there’s always a lot of work being done there. Lots of planks being done. So I go from Switzerland to Holland,

put in a load new planks and then go home again. And that’s my involvement there. And I’ve had the opportunity to sail with them. But it’s also inspired me to think, well, if this can work for cargo, then what about passengers.

So I’ve brought all of that together, the living in Switzerland, the being from the UK, the travelling experiences, the lifecycle assessment, all of that. Also, of course, I love sailing. And it actually started in the idea site in 2019. I went with my teenage daughter, from Cherbourg, in France, to Poole in Dorset to do a little bit of the southwest coast path. And so we were out for exactly for that for that a little bit of adventure. And we were thinking well, I was wondering, well, maybe one of the sail cargo ships just happens to be passing and they can take us across. And of course, they weren’t at that time. So we had to go with the big ferry.

And we arrived in Cherbourg by train. And then we walked to the ferry terminal. And in doing that, we passed the harbour with the yachts and small boats in two minutes down the road from the train station. And then we continue to walk for another hour and a half to get to the ferry terminal. And of course, in that time, we thought, Well, why do we need to go out to the ferry terminal? Sure, we can go on one of these boats. And that sparked the whole thing. And I started looking into it. And the thing is, I was thinking then to start up some sort of platform whereby all these boats that align in all these harbours can get used to take people across. But as soon as you start getting into commercial


then you need commercial certification of the vessel. The skipper needs to be commercially certified, and 99% of the boats out there do not have that. So

unless you’re having some sort of other exchange

is not permissible.

So that’s led it down this part of a boat specifically for this purpose with a professional crew

and operating on a very tight for shedule.

Carlton Reid 28:50
Can I ask about your wife?

Andrew Simons 28:53
my wife? Yeah.

Carlton Reid 28:54
Because your wife does bicycle infrastructure.

Getting people on bikes basically. Yeah, in a town or city in Switzerland.

Andrew Simons 29:06
That’s right. My wife runs the

is she’s she’s the head of the planning department for foot and for pedestrian and bicycle

planning for the city of Bern in Switzerland.

We were also very keen cyclists; we cycle as everyday cyclists.

But she does that professionally. Yeah. And of course in sailing, she’s a absolutely vital part of

this whole thing. I can’t do it without her, you know, she goes off to work.

And I get the the the possibility to develop this business.

And then from a professional point of view, yeah, she she’s

already involved in that and


very much helps to encourage and inform

the whole cycle the whole side of it with passengers with bicycles, yep.

Sailing, we’ve talked about the experiences of the sea and, and this is also a real a really serious sailing experience you’re sailing across international waters

on the open sea on a very tidally titled stretch of water. And you only really get to do this if you have connections with people with boats or you’re part of a club, it’s quite an exclusive thing. And so sailing is really a key part of it is to offer that just by buying a ticket for I think not that much

and gain that opportunity.

Also for children for groups for in the future also for people with wheelchairs, we want to be able to get bikes on and off easily but also people and people in wheelchairs. So

you know really open it up to to whoever wants to come.

Carlton Reid 31:04
And we’re arriving into Bolougne, fantastic voyage across, with the orange Harvest Moon. But now I’m going to hand over to David for a short break.

David Bernstein 31:16
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Carlton Reid 35:51
Thanks, David. And we are back and I’m back on the boat the ferry across and we’re leaving Boulogne now. And we are going to be about four or five hours before we’re in Dover. But we have a new passengers on board who are going to go all the way across to the UK.

Brandt Williamson 36:12
I am Brandt Williamson from Virginia in the United States.

Small town called Delaplane.

hadn’t been overseas in quite some time and very, very excited about this experience. So it’s already been quite an experience.

Carlton Reid 36:29
And what do you do when you’re in America? What do you do for a living for a profession?

Brandt Williamson 36:32
I’m a physician. I’m an emergency room doc.

Carlton Reid 36:35
And then if you hadn’t gone across the channel in a sailboat because the sail has now gone up a massive sail above our heads.

If you weren’t taking a sailboat across the channel, how would you have got across?

Brandt Williamson 36:47
Well, actually, this whole trip, my whole trip has kind of evolved. Originally, I was going to take the Chunnel across and then I realised well like that’s not going to be the most efficient way to do this. If I’m going to be going down to Dover walking,

because I don’t think you can get on to the channel there need to go back track to where you came from. So then I was just looking at going on one of these massive ferries that takes people across. But when I found out this was available, that was not that was not even a consideration anymore.

Carlton Reid 37:22
So eco we’re not burning any fuel here to get across is that was that part of the consideration?

Brandt Williamson 37:30
I think it’s part of the consideration. It’s also just the adventure of it all. This is just more adventurous than jumping on a car ferry.

Robert Tickner 37:39
I am Robert Tickner.

Carlton Reid 37:41
And Robert, what are you doing today? Why are you going across the channel in this eco friendly way? Or have I just preempted the question?

Wayne Godfrey

Robert Tickner 37:50
You have to a certain extent, yes. It’s it’s kind of a bucket list item.

You know,

I’ve always been looking for an opportunity to sell across the channel. And then I saw this this come up. I thought okay, that’s quite interesting.

Carlton Reid 38:06
How do you say where do you say it actually came up?

Robert Tickner 38:09
In a different publication with the independent Simon Calder. He’s he mentioned it and said that this was going to start, and I follow him on a regular basis. And I thought, yeah, that sounds great. Let’s do that.

Carlton Reid 38:21
And you’ve never been on a boat as small as this before always, maybe not across such a channel as La Manche?

Robert Tickner 38:30
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I’ve been on even smaller boats than this, but sitting not on a seagoing basis. So yeah, this is a bit of a new experience.

Carlton Reid 38:39
And what do you do for a living? Your Brussels based?

Robert Tickner 38:42
Yeah, I’m Brussels based. Yeah, indeed. So actually, I’m the head of PR for Toyota in Europe. So the other aspects of this is the sustainability angle, which, which has, you know, to Earth is very interested in that kind of activity. So looking at what’s happening here, I think aligns well with what I do on a daily basis.

Carlton Reid 39:01
And this has got some electric onboard

power certainly out of the harbour. Is that an interest of yours with Toyota?

Robert Tickner 39:12
Yes, indeed, we have a hydrogen fuel cell technology which

is also used for electric power. And we do have some, some prototype electric boats using hydrogen fuel cells

working on a on a transatlantic Trans Pacific bases. So I think it’s definitely something of the future and allied with sail. I think it can be a real boon.

Carlton Reid 39:38
So you’ve come across

from Brussels on the train. I presume?

Robert Tickner 39:43
I drove from Brussels to Calais.

Carlton Reid 39:45
You work for Toyota, of course you’ll drive, what a silly question? Okay, so,

okay, yes, a bit. Yeah. And you’ve parked up and you’ve you’ve got to here. What are you doing across there in Dover?

Robert Tickner 39:58
So I’m back I’m gonna get off this

Uh, I’m going to hop for it to the ferry terminal and go straight back to how you’re doing the full the full treatment and excursion. Yeah, I need to get back in, in Brussels for tomorrow morning.

Carlton Reid 40:12
What time is that? What time do you have to get to Dover?

Robert Tickner 40:17
Well, the ferry’s due leave at 10 to seven.

As well as a passenger, I need to be there about an hour and a half beforehand,

Carlton Reid 40:25
you should be fine. So because you were tracking the journey when you enter in vesselfinder last night.

Robert Tickner 40:30
I tracked it yesterday. And it took me six hours to get across. But I think if it’s six hours today, or less than I should be fine. You don’t have to run too fast to get to the ferry termina. It’s the hour and a half I have to be there beforehand, which is problematic.

Carlton Reid 40:48
And not every ferry company that goes from Dover will would accept you as a pedestrian or if you had a bike. So you basically they’re favouring car passengers,

Robert Tickner 40:58
They are there at the moment, which is a bit of a shame. I mean,

Unknown Speaker 41:00
the P&O are doing this, they’re not doing it for all of their crossings, just just a few . But the one that I’m targeting is the last one. So if I don’t make it then it’s gonna be a B&B in Dover.

Tom Treasure 41:15
I’m Tom treasure.

Caroline Tyndall 41:17
I am Caroline Tyndall.

Carlton Reid 41:19
Okay, and welcome on board. Why, why are you doing today’s trip?

Caroline Tyndall 41:25
Well, I saw the information about SailLink in a local newspaper.

Carlton Reid 41:35
French, expats or French, fully French.


Caroline Tyndall 41:42
And I said to Tom, that sounds really interesting. And I’ve always wanted to sail across the channel. And as Boulogne is just down the coast from where we live, it couldn’t have been more convenient. And so we looked at the website and managed to secure two places for sailing today, which we’re very grateful.

Very easy for us to live we just drove down to Boulogne and parked very near the port. And the plan is to stay tonight in Dover.

and then come back to Calais tomorrow on P&O ferry, which is now allowing passengers after a long time.

So it’s a bit of a round trip.

Very enjoyable.

Carlton Reid 42:37
Yeah, well you’ve got some good weather. I was lucky yesterday.

Caroline Tyndall 42:41
A couple of days ago that was

sa y in French “souffle tempête”

Carlton Reid 42:48
That means a storm? Okay.

Caroline Tyndall 42:52
So Tom is a retired doctor

a rofessor cardiac surgery and so he’s still writing

papers for

medical journals.

Carlton Reid 43:09
So obviously this trip is attracting doctors

Tom Treasure 43:13
Yes, well


a lot of doctors go sailing it’s a favourite thing you know you have a boat keep boats on the channel Coast if any of my friends had boats but they might sell two weeks a year you know, but very busy. Yeah, and the channel is often inhospitable for the fun sailor.

But today it’s

always slightly envious but never really wanted to commit to a boat myself anymore because it doesn’t have to pass so she did have their time

Carlton Reid 43:51
and money

Tom Treasure 44:01
shred them under a shower.

Carlton Reid 44:02
That’s so this is this is poor man’s version of that so you’re you’re you’re going on a boat, but you’re not actually owning the boat and people are having to keep it exactly. You’re fostering this this ferry?

Tom Treasure 44:15
Yeah, well, it’s a very nice idea because crossing the Channel simply without having to take a car every time.

It’s something we lost for a while. I could do it again.

Wayne Godfrey 44:28
I am Wayne Godfrey.

Carlton Reid 44:29
Why are you doing this?

Wayne Godfrey 44:31
Making making the most of my time on the planet. I sort of read it in a local newspaper

and thought what a fab thing to do, combined with the opportunity to ride my bike, simple pleasures.

Carlton Reid 44:45
Wayne, what do you do for a living?

Wayne Godfrey 44:47
I am a removals man, which I find very enjoyable. It’s very physic, physical, physically active, physical when you’re part of people’s journey.

make people happy to bring calm to a situation.

Carlton Reid 45:03
So Wayne tell me your journey what when did you start and what have you been doing?

Wayne Godfrey 45:08
Started Friday morning, got the 9.15 ferry across in, arrived in Calais just before lunch, pedalled my bike down to Boulogne. Just do a record of where the sailing was from on Sunday.

Spent a pleasant evening in Boulogne. And then headed out

Saturday morning down past le Touquet into Berck. Again, some fantastic beaches, some fantastic cyclin. I can recommend France to everyone. And yeah, had a nice evening. Not too much to do there. But again, it’s what you make it and then headed out this morning bright and early. Watched the sunrise which again, I’d recommend everyone done now and again to make the most of every day. And yeah, cycled consistently 40 kilometres from Birck to Boulogne. Yeah, French road drivers are very considerare. And I had a wonderful time I’ve been on bike paths even on roads we’ve been on all mix yet.

The even in France, they accommodate bikes very well along. Most routes have a bike path. Again, it’s a road cycling again, the roadss in France are much more cycle friendly than in Britain. And yeah, the weather has been absolutely phenomenal. But again, it’s what you make it

as long as you’ve got warm clothing on top you

can generally tolerate most weathers. And I haven’t not worn shorts for five years because my skin is waterproof.

Yeah, I got soaked when I headed out from Margate on 6.30 Friday morning, but once I was when I was wet and I wasn’t cold. So yeah.

It was a very pleasant cycle as well.

Carlton Reid 47:06
So is this the kind of journey you would do


Wayne Godfrey 47:11
It’s just I would say this

journey again and again. And again. Because it’s therapeutic. It’s environmentally friendly.

To spend your time, I find it’s always good to take time out for yourself, and do what makes you happy if something doesn’t make you happy.

Carlton Reid 47:30
Now when we get to the other side, how far you got to ride, what are you doing?

Wayne Godfrey 47:39
From Dover to my house is three hours cycling and it’s quite hilly and it’s about pushing yourself but there’s also within and making it enjoyable as well. So I’ll shift cycle to the train station and to get home and

Carlton Reid 47:58
where’s that where’s home?

Wayne Godfrey 47:59
home is sunny Margate, which I’ve been here for about 10 years now. And I used to live in the inner city. And it’s something so therapeutic about seeing the sea every day. And just being peaceful really.

The older I get, the more I try and deliver myself places under my own steam. Because I don’t find for most people it’s about the destination whereas myself, it’s part of the journey and the destination. I go to the Lake District, by train and by bicycle and a few times to come off the mountain. And I think I would like my car but once I start pedalling I’m free and I love it.

Carlton Reid 48:46
Thanks to Andrew Simons and SailLink’s first passengers for talking to me on what was a wonderful crossing between Dover and Boulogne and back again. Thanks also to you for listening to Episode 306 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. Show notes and more can be found as always on The next episode is a chat with Cat who is a local organiser of a Kiddical Mass ride. That show will be out in a day or two. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

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