Gregg Farmer Maritime Safety Blog
Marine Navigation Safety harbor pilot
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.