The work carried out from Ramsgate relies on a fleet of up to seven work vessels which can carry 10–12 people each, plus a crew of two. Most are around 20 metres long, with comfortable accommodation and forward deck space for lifting operations. Powerful engines give a cruising speed of 20 knots or more, so the journey time from Ramsgate harbour is just 30 minutes.
Approaching whichever of the turbine’s two landing points is most convenient for the wind and tide, the skipper nudges the rubber-armoured bow against the steel tubes protecting the access ladder, and applies enough throttle to keep the boat firmly in position. The work crew, wearing immersion suits and harnesses, climb the ladder to the platform at the base of the tower, clipping on their safety ropes as they go.
While safety on board is the skipper’s responsibility, the technicians make the final decision about whether to transfer on to the turbine. Depending on the tide, the exposed ladder climb ranges from a short hop to around 10 metres.