Process of entering or leaving almost every port in the world, most of which are situated in inner waters, difficult of access, requires great skill and attention on the part of navigator. A special pilotage service aimed at rendering assistance to vessels in port and coastal waters navigation has therefore been established in every maritime country.
Pilot is a qualified person, who is authorised to pilot vessels in a particular pilotage area. Every pilot must have Pilot License.
The pilotage can be compulsory, optional or advisable. It depends on the port authorities.
Vessels are met by pilot boats, flying the flag “H” and very often having the word “PILOT” on the sides in white. Pilot embarks a ship by pilot ladder or electrically operated lift. These means must always be in order. Sometimes, when weather conditions prevent a pilot from embarking, he remains in the pilot launch and leads the vessel, maintaining constant communication with the piloted vessel and giving orders by VHF radiophone.
Other occasions when vessels employ pilots are shifting berths, manoeuvring in restricted waters.
The right of Master is to follow advice of the Pilot or not.
Different ports have different entering conditions. Every port, therefore has its own requirement of ordering a Pilot. Pilotage in every port may be compulsory or optional.
Information about ordering a Pilot in a certain part one can get in the Guide to the Port Entry or in various charts, in appropriate pilot books.
Depending on the ports size and traffic there the 1st notice time for ordering a pilot varies from several hours to in small ports to several days in bigger ones. The 1st notice may be addressed to ships agent or port authorities or directly to the pilot station.
The 1st notice should include name of a ship, its flag, name of a Master, ETA, draft, and sometimes its dimensions.
Normally, when a vessel comes close enough to a pilot boarding ground, it should confirm the information given in the 1st notice. The ETA is adjusted more accurately. Different pilots requirements should be met as the ship must go at the definite speed, the pilot ladder must be rigged on the certain side and at the certain distance above water.
The OOW meets the Pilot near the pilot ladder and shows him the bridge.
There are several special documents which are used during the pilotage.
The pilot card is a document which includes ships characteristics. It’s very important for a Pilot to know during his work. It’s shown to him and if it’s necessary Master explains a Pilot information in the card.
The Pilots’ License or Pilots’ Certificate is a document which every pilot must have. It confirms that its owner is qualified pilot. A Pilot produces his license if requested.
The Pilotage Bill or Pilotage Note is a document which is being filled in by Master after the pilotage. It usually contains ships name, her gross tonnage and draft, names of a Master and Agent, the commencement and completion of pilotage, where it started from and where its finished. The Pilotage Bill is signed by Master and is a basis for payment for a pilotage.
The cost of a pilotage is included in the disbursements account – the document, which shows all vessels’ expenses included while staying in the port.
After the Pilot boarded and arrived to the bridge, he must know some information about technical characteristics of a ship, also he has to see the passage plan, and maybe, correct it. Sure, he has to discuss it with the Master. Before the process of pilotage itself, Master and a Pilot may have a brief conversation and if the pilotage is not very difficult, the can also speak during pilotage.
Actually, Pilot haven’t right to con s ship. He can only give an advice to Master, but none can say how it is happening in real life. I heard that sometimes pilotage may last more than 24 hours. Sure, Master can’t be on bridge during all the process, but I think, that Chief Mate can change him for a few hours. Such kind of pilotage are often happen during the river piloting, when there’s not one pilot embarking ship, but two, or more of them.
Embarkation and disembarkation of a pilot is a duty of the OOW. He must rig a pilot ladder, have a life-buoy and a torch ready, also he’s communicated with the bridge by VHF radiostation. After Pilot is on deck, OOW must take him to the bridge, and after the pilotage – back to the pilot ladder or to the gangway, if the pilotage is finished near the berth.
When ship’s waiting for pilotage, Master have to prepare for meeting a Pilot. He must send a man to fix pilot ladder, prepare the bridge to a pilotage. OOW must have binoculars, charts and so on ready. Master have to prepare Pilot Card, mark the expected route of passing in/out of the port and make the summary of vessels characteristics. Also he have to give all the same information to the OOW in case of leaving the bridge. I guess, he has to tell the same information to Chief Mate in case of changing the watches.
On arrival, OOW must to meet the Pilot. After Pilot was taken to the bridge, he must get familiar with the bridge equipment during the brief conversation with the Master.
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