By WILLIAM COOK
This is the white-knuckle moment a boat was nearly flipped over when its crew faced a huge 35ft wave head-on.
The 38ft pilot vessel was picked up by the enormous roller off the Irish coast and teetered at a perilous 60-degree angle before coming down safely on the other side.
It took all the skill of helmsman Cairan Monks to keep the vessel square on to the wave. Had he been even slightly off course his craft would have capsized.
On the edge: Incredible images show a pilot vessel put through its paces off the Irish coast
Incredibly, the crew deliberately took to sea during the force 10 storm in order to put the pilot vessel through its paces.
'Pilots' are experienced sailors who use their knowledge of local waters to guide large ships into and out of port.
Pilot boats have existed in various forms for centuries, as a means of transporting pilots between the shore and incoming ships. They need to be able to withstand the very worst weather to guide other ships to safety. Many also serve as search-and-rescue vessels.
Batten down the hatches! The 38-foot vessel is dwarfed by the approaching roller
Nerves of steel: Helmsman Cairan Monks used all his skill to keep the boat at right-angles to the wave
Engulfed: The vessel is nearly swamped as it surges through the heavy sea
The images - compared by some to scenes out of the George Clooney movie the Perfect Storm - were captured on camera by Frank Kowalski.
Mr Kowalski runs a pilot vessel supply company and was on another larger boat that tackled the same wave seconds after he took the pictures in the Celtic Sea.
Mr Kowalski, 50, said: 'We supply many vessels to French and Portugese ports that are open to large Biscay swells and are expected to withstand such severe conditions.
'Although it was a bad day weather wise it was a good opportunity to see how this Interceptor 38 model performed.
'It was critical for Cairan to be absolutely square on to that wave and a great deal of skill and care was required to keep it that way.
'In those extreme conditions it would have been easy to make a mistake and expose her beam to the big breaker and risk being capsized.
Uncertain: Teetering for a split-second, the craft could have fallen forward or back
Relief: The resilient boat crests the wave and regains its balance
'The Interceptor 38 is in fact self-righting but we weren’t looking to put it through that test on this day.
'I was stood on the bow of a larger boat behind it taking some photos.
'The vessel was in the right position for long enough for me to get a couple of good shots.
'It must have been at an angle of 60 degrees and would have been like riding a thrill ride for Cairan.
'Many people who I have showed the pictures to have said it looks like something out of the Perfect Storm.'
Mr Kowalski runs SafeHaven Marine out of Cork harbour.