VESSEL REVIEW | Colne Leader – UK’s Brightlingsea Harbour welcomes pilot/patrol launch

VESSEL REVIEW | Colne Leader – UK’s Brightlingsea Harbour welcomes pilot/patrol launch

Photo: O Laoi

The Brightlingsea Harbour Commission of Essex, UK, recently took delivery of a new pilot boat built by Seaward Boat Development Company based on the Isle of Wight.

The 8.8-metre-long Colne Leader will be operated by the Brightlingsea harbour patrol as a general-use workboat with focus on providing pilot transfers in both coastal and inland waters. Its area of operations will also encompass its namesake, the River Colne, which is also a tributary of the Thames.

Having established the need to replace the harbour’s previous pilot boat, the commission undertook an extensive research programme to identify the type of vessel and equipment specification required. Advice was sought from the Work Boat Association, coding surveyors, naval architects, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, other ports, the pilots, shipping organisations, and professional workboat skippers.


The commission said the consultation process was successful in helping identify what was needed in the new boat, though it also revealed a gap in the pilot boat market. Typically, pilot boats are designed for deep water ports and utilise vessels of over 15 metres in length and costing over a million pounds apiece. The commission deemed such a vessel to be far too large and expensive for the needs of Brightlingsea and other small harbours where boats of no more than nine metres long yet possessing multi-role capability were considered more suitable.

The chosen pilot boat needed to be small enough but also capable of meeting the wider needs of harbours like Brightlingsea, where additional functions include river patrols, inspection and maintenance of navigation marks on behalf of Trinity House, river surveys, and other general harbour duties. Seaward worked closely with the Brightlingsea Harbour team to create a boat that not only met the harbour commission’s requirements but did so within the available budget. The resulting vessel thus incorporates a number of facilities and services not generally offered in a pilot boat of similar size.

The cooperation with Seaward also ensured that Colne Leader possessed key attributes such as a Raymarine radar, an engine compartment providing full standing-height access, MOB recovery equipment, and mooring cleats inset into the cabin coaming to keep the decks clear while still providing handrail accessibility for transfers to other vessels.

Photo: O Laoi

Click here for more news, features, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on marine pilotage operations.

Colne Leader
Type of vessel: Pilot/Patrol boat
Flag: UK
Owner: Brightlingsea Harbour Commission, UK
Builder: Seaward Boat Development Company, UK
Length overall: 8.8 metres
Radar: Raymarine
Operational area: Essex, UK

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