Welcome to Pilotage Week!

Welcome to Pilotage Week!


Pilot boats, as ever, are at the forefront of smaller vessel design, construction and equipment. The breed seems to continue to become faster, safer, more economical, more comfortable and more environmentally compatible.

They tend to be designed and built by specialised companies based in many parts of the world. However, while still quite innovative in most respects, they are becoming more uniform in size, speed, equipment, handling characteristics, construction materials and fit out.

Pilots, of course, are very demanding customers. They know a lot about boats and the sea and, as their lives very much depend upon their boats, they have very strong ideas about how those boats should be designed, built and equipped. Thus, their specialised designers and builders usually have and maintain strong personal ties with them.

While, over a year, our Pilotage Weeks feature a number of builders and designers in a range of countries, this week we look at them from three countries with two of the vessels reviewed being intended for export. So, as usual in Baird Maritime‘s feature weeks, we have very multi-national coverage. As with maritime security vessels, also featured this week, all our pilot boats are constructed of aluminium or FRP, or composites of both. That is now the way of the world.

Polaris III from Norlund Boats in Tacoma, Washington is almost the “quintessential” contemporary pilot boat. It was designed by the local Tim Nolan Design Group. At 19 metres LOA, built of FRP and with Caterpillar diesels powering Hamilton waterjets, it is a self-righting, 25-knot boat designed to provide 40 years of service to her owner Jacobsen Pilot Services of Long Beach, California.

Also, from a little island off Split in Croatia, we have a very interesting smaller and all-aluminium pilot and multi-purpose boat for a very experienced Ecuadorean company, Trading Neptune. Very sleekly and stylishly built by the Colinaro family company, the boat is 13 metres in LOA and cruises at 25 knots. In addition to performing pilotage work, it can be quickly and easily adapted for medevac, surveillance and patrol operations.

So, ever more multinational and ever more interesting and innovative vessels. I trust these excellent craft give our readers plenty of ideas for their own future boats.

Vessel Reviews & Previews:

Features and Opinion:

FEATURE | Celebrating the 160–year history of Eden’s harbour masters

– “The process for safe navigation remains the same but every ship has its specific needs which we have to prepare for.”

News and Gear:

Recent Important Features:

REMINISCENCES | Swallowing the anchor

“What none of us wanted was to turn into an ageing ship’s officer who…was as bitter and twisted a shipmate as one might meet.”

– by Michael Grey, former long-term editor of Lloyd’s List

COLUMN | Time to drop the pilot? [The Wet Detective]

“After all, if there is an incident it is highly likely that the master will be held liable anyway.”

– by Mike Wall, marine surveyor and consultant

REMINISCENCES | A disaster waiting to happen? – Pilotage in the Port of Townsville

– “The Moksong sailed the next day for Korea with a full load of sugar, and the captain seemed quite normal and never said a thing about the incident.”

– Alex Lang

Remember to come back every day to see the latest news, opinion and vessel reviews!

Call for content!

Any news or views about the global pilotage industry? Send it through to [email protected] ASAP (between now and November 20), so we can add it to this current edition of Pilotage Week!

We are after:

  • Vessels – Orders, new deliveries, under construction
  • Gear – Latest innovations and technology in the pilot boat sector
  • Interviews – Owners, operators, port authorities, marine pilotage associations etc.
  • Reminiscences – Do you have any exciting, amusing or downright dangerous anecdotes from your time in the marine pilotage world? (example here)
  • Other – Any other relevant news

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Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.