This post will address some of the challenges faced when having the conduct of a vessel in pilotage waters. Pilots traditionally board and depart vessels before entering or after departing restricted waterways. When a Harbor pilot climbs up the side of a ship on a ladder made of wooden steps and rope the pilot makes their way to the bridge of the ship to assume the conduct of the vessel from the Ships Master (Captain). There is a Master/Pilot exchange where the master informs the pilot about his/her vessel particulars and the pilot informs the Master about the transit and what to expect. When both professionals agree to proceed the master passes the conduct of the vessel to the Pilot. The Pilot works with the bridge team to ensure a safe transit. In my experience as long as you keep the bridge team engaged and include them as part of the transit they can be very helpful.
Here is what the pilot has in their quiver. Weather reports and their own experience with weather conditions. Tide and current information. Vessel traffic and planed movements in the harbor. Local knowledge of all navigational hazards, bridge openings, clearances and lock schedules. Knowledge of all courses and aids to navigation including their characteristics. Pilots are tested after training and learning the local waters. Pilot candidates draw a copy of the navigation chart from memory. There is no tolerance for error and a score of at least 90% must be achieved for a license to be issued. All this knowledge and testing is not enough. There is no substitute for experience and training with experienced pilots before assuming the conduct of a vessel on your own for the first time. State regulations require this in Massachusetts. Every Pilot candidate is required by regulation to train with every commissioned pilot. In part two I will discuss having to deviate from a normal transit.
Calling all applicants. The deadline is fast approaching for submitting application for two anticipated openings in Boston. It will be interesting to watch how this process unfolds. The pilot commissioners are a public body subject to Massachusetts open meeting rules Link here: OML Judge Robert Hallissey a former pilot commissioner in Boston established the pilot commissioners procedure to comply with OML. I am only aware of one pilot who has informed his intention of retiring. I can speak for myself and say I have no intension of retiring in the next ten years. I had one more question on age restrictions. There is no age restriction on the books. Past applicants age ranges are wide. I will not comment on the age of those selected but one can certainly request that public information from the commissioners themselves. The Pilot Commissioners are a public body in the eyes of Massachusetts law and one can request information that may be helpful such as number of ship movements, total receipts for pilotage, reports of pilot assignments, rotation and history. Happy to answer any question as the process continues.
The arrival of the tall ships in Boston will feature the first parade of sail since 2000. The tall ships were last here in 2009 with no parade of sail. The challenges of moving these majestic ships and keeping the city safe have changed considerably. Ships and crews from all over the world will be experiencing our city and culture. Enjoy the experience, be safe and follow the rules of the road.