Preparation for a pelagic trip

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Our vessel for all trips is MV Sapphire. There is plenty of seating space and a toilet. The deck is uncovered.

What to wear

British weather is unpredictable. June-August generally is fairly settled and mild, but can be cool, wet and windy. September and October generally is unsettled, but can be warm and becalmed. Whichever is the case, conditions at sea compared to those on land are accentuated; cool becomes cold, whilst hot and sunny becomes roasting. The sun is particularly strong off Scilly with unpolluted air, so it is important to avoid becoming irradiated on a sunny day at sea with sun rays also reflecting off the sea surface. Many trips run in the evening when it becomes cool, even when conditions are fair. On some trips we may experience sea spray. Therefore we recommend that you come prepared. Make sure you have warm clothing and waterproofs including footwear. Layering is a good idea so that you can adjust to the conditions as they change over the course of a trip. Make sure your footwear is comfortable since you may stand for long periods. Ideally footwear should have grip on the soles to prevent slipping if the deck gets wet. Pack a cap or hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Food and drink

Bring along plenty to drink, especially for full day pelagic trips. You may bring along modest amounts of alcohol. Also bring sufficient quantities of food, enough for the duration of the trip. Remember that you will be on a moving vessel with other passengers so for example mixing salads and sauces and pouring champagne into tall glasses is not a good idea. Please note that it will be too late to purchase food in town after evening pelagic trips.


Smoking is permitted though we ask smokers to respect non-smokers by smoking away and ideally downwind from other passengers.


If you think you might be susceptible to seasickness, then we recommend that you err on the side of caution and take your preferred remedy well before you get on board. Consult your pharmacist for professional advice. Experienced pelagic goers often recommend a good night’s sleep the night before the trip, a good breakfast or lunch depending on the start time of the trip, frequent snacking throughout the trip, and most of all a positive attitude.


Binoculars are essential. Telescopes are not permitted because they consume too much space and in any case are useless given the motion at sea. Cameras are encouraged. Good stills can be achieved with a telephoto lens 300-400 mm in focal length. Shutter speeds of 1/1000 second or higher are necessary for truly sharp photos of seabirds in motion. An ISO rating of 200 or more on your digital camera may be necessary. Even if you do not have a professional lens it may still be possible to get some photos of the seabirds and other marine life that we encounter. Good video can be achieved with even modest priced cameras but you will need 10x-12x zoom for reasonable sized images. Stronger zooms can become counter-productive yielding shaky images since everything is in motion, including you. If the subject comes close to the vessel, then resist trying to get images large in the frame. On the television at home they will look ugly and normally very shaky. Bring a dark filter for pale birds in sunlight.