Sunset Boat Trip in Brighton


Organised by the Brighton Dolphin Project, I saw on social media that they were running a sunset boat cruise to the West Pier, to see the murmuration from a new perspective. So many touristy trips don’t consider the time of day and how the photography may turnout, but the starlings have considered it! Thank you starlings for gathering at the golden hour.

Madiera Drive and Regency architecture to the west of the Marina

Madiera Drive and Regency architecture to the west of the Marina

I book myself and my daughter on the cruise, and we congregate at the marina an hour before sunset. I have packed pretty light, as I wanted to enjoy the experience and not turn it into a photography project. The majority of the photos here were taken with my daughters Canon and a kit zoom.


We head out of the Marina, and the sunset is already starting to get exciting. The tour manager interests us with some starling facts as we slowly chug along parallel to Madiera Drive towards the palace pier. I have been this route before via boat, but it was on the way back from the Rampion Windfarm, not a leisurely one hour cruise along my favourite stretch of beach.

We approach the palace pier, and I photograph the new rainbow signing of ‘Brighton Pier’ which I am undecided about, and we wrap around the southern tip which has a whole host of activity and rides in action. At this point I am still shooting into the sun, which is fine, but a technical challenge.


My daughter is thoroughly enjoying the experience, and as we pull away from the palace pier, we start to see the starling gather in the skies overhead. The moon is perfectly placed over the pier and the sun is now behind the camera, which brings out the subtle tones in the sky.


There isn’t a whole lot to photograph between the piers when out at sea, so I put the camera down and point out places to my daughter that we have been to. We came to see a murmuration the year before on the beach, which she remembers, and points out where we sat on the beach. We start to approach the West Pier.

I have photographed this thing to death, from perhaps 180 degrees, plus the skies with a drone, and from the i360. I personally think that it is most photogenic, now that the bridge and various other elements have eroded, straight on and in front of the columns. At low tide and high tide there are a few other compositions that I like. As the image below, it becomes a bit busy when viewed from the side, but it is a new perspective anyhow; and that is the exact reason why I am out on a boat on a Sunday Evening.


Spolier alert, the starlings didn’t really perform for us this evening. There were starlings, but I don’t think that all got the memo - and instead we all just enjoyed the sunset and bobbing up and down on the water tucked behind the West Pier.


I managed to grab the above symmetrical image of the i360 coming out the middle of the West Pier, which was a challenge as the boat was constantly moving - so I rattled off a few shots as we centralised.


The sun had set, the water was really calm, and we started to head back towards the Marina. The city lights started to shine through into my images, and the colours of the sky and water were just incredible. At one point I started to get all arty and just take photos of the waves and horizon; which is not my ‘usual thing’ but it just looked amazing!


If this tour crops up again, I would definitely recommend it, as it is a unique opportunity. Even if you are not interesting in starling or murmurations, it is a way of seeing the city from a fresh perspective.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed looking at my images.