Registered Escort Pilots
The Registered CSA Pilots and Vessel Owners / Managing Agents are NOT commercially linked to the Channel Swimming Association. They operate their own, separate Businesses. The Registration Fees you pay to the Association are to cover your membership fee, the administration costs, and the supply of the CSA Official Observer. The fee you pay to your Pilot is a matter for private negotiation between you and him. The CSA Secretary will be pleased to advise you in general terms, but cannot undertake to make any specific recommendations.
The Pilot Vessels on the Register comprise a range of Commercial Fishing Vessels, a Commercial Dive-Boat, and Cabin Cruisers. Our Pilots comprise Skippers with different backgrounds and working experience. We advise you to talk to them all, in order to see what they expect from you. So that you can state what you expect from them and to see what they can offer you. You will probably expect them to offer a detailed contract specifying the fee, the name of your Pilot, your Vessel, and your place in the 'queue' for that Swim Week and so on.
We have been fortunate in securing a good working relationship with the Pilots, with their staff and with their crews. Indeed, we have come to rely upon their readiness to co-operate with our efforts to conduct our activities safely and in a pleasant and sporting manner. You should expect them to be helpful and friendly, and generally considerate of your needs, both before and during your attempt to cross the Strait of Dover. You will, doubtless, be communicating with them well in advance in order to make sure that your own preparations can proceed smoothly. This will also be helpful to them as they get ready for the season's bookings.
So, if it is all so easy to arrange ... how is it that on occasions a Swimmer - or a Pilot - feels less than satisfied with how things turned out? Maybe the Swimmer just couldn't produce their top form of the day... maybe the Pilot's best plans are disrupted by unexpected weather conditions, heavy traffic in the Shipping Lanes, or even a mechanical breakdown. Swimmer and Pilot usually sympathise with each other! But there is usually a lot of money at stake as well - and this is where disappointment can turn to dissatisfaction and perhaps to bad feeling.
Remember that the day you choose is ultimately YOUR DECISION, as to whether or not you embark on a swim. Don't blame the pilot. You are not being bullied, cajoled or persuaded. Your pilot is there to offer you his best judgement and considered opinion, no-one is stopping you from obtaining a second, third or even fourth opinion. You have the right to say NO, until you jump in and then you are committed. If you decided not to accept the pilot's advice you must be prepared for him to offer the opportunity to another swimmer and it may affect your position on that tide.
Please make sure that you fully understand the implications of your contract with your pilot.
- So... agree on a firm contract with your Pilot!
- How much will his Pilotage cost?
- When and how must the money be paid?
- What if it all goes wrong under what circumstances do you forfeit your money (some of it? all of it?) or receive a refund (some of it? all of it?)
- What is the Swim period you have agreed on?
- Do you have a definite slot in a queue?
- What happens if bad weather makes it impossible to swim during the agreed window?
- How much longer should i be prepared to stay?
- Can this queue be interrupted by any other commercial activities your Pilot operates?
- Under what weather conditions will you swim?
- Does it matter (do you mind?) which boat you go with, or who Pilots it?
- So - which boat will escort you, and exactly who is your Pilot?
- Will you be agreeing all this in writing?
- The Swimmer and Pilot who sort all this out before the Swim can usually remain contented!!
- Prices will vary quite a lot. (Is the cheapest necessarily the best?)
- It's not unreasonable to ask for a breakdown of costs but, don't forget - it's not unreasonable for the Pilot to feel entitled to make some profit for a job well done.
- But - 'Shop around' and don't be pressured into signing up until you are confident that your Pilot suits your particular needs.
Of the PILOTS and BOATS which we anticipate will be registered with the Channel Swimming Association Ltd. for the current year, the following have already provided documentary evidence of their Qualifications, Insurances, Boat Certification and copies of all Survey and Inspection Reports as requested.