Shiphandling at shipyards, never a dull moment...
by Marine Pilot Luis Vale, Portugal - published on 20 September 2019
I got to the ship at the shipyard on the previously agreed time, taking into account the height of the tide in order to have a good under keel clearance, just to be informed that a sea chest valve is leaking and it will take about 45 minutes to fix... No problem, we are still within the tidal window, why not go for a walk around the shipyard and take some pictures with the sophisticated photographic equipment I keep in my pocket (Nokia N70 phone…).
After completion of the repair in the engine room and a few more pictures on my phone, I am finally called by the dockmaster and get to the bridge where I am received by the relieving captain, who happens to be happily drilling holes on one of the bulkheads in order to place an electronic display, together with the person that should be doing that, the shipyard electronics technician… he tells me the other captain will be coming soon.
When the “other” captain arrives on the bridge I give him the written plan and explain the intended manoeuvre. Taking into account that the main engine is still not working, two tugs will be used. By this time I have to ask the relieving captain to stop the drilling on the bridge as I can't communicate with the tugs and the shipyard dockmaster ashore with all that noise…
The dock gate is now opened and the aft tug is made fast. I ask the captain to test the bowthruster only to be informed that it will not work unless we wait for another 45 minutes. As the shipyard had given me the information that the thruster would be operative and it isn't, we now have to pass two more lines ahead in order to control the bow when coming astern.
Going to the bridge wing with the two captains I then realize they are both worried that the dock is quite narrow for the ship’s breadth. Yes it is, but it was already when the vessel came inside, unless the ship got bigger or the dock narrowed (this is what I wanted to say but kept to myself)… In fact the ship is about 16,5 meters wide and the dock about 18 meters, so no problem, we have already docked vessels with 17,8 m breadth (for those asking how is it possible for the shipyard to work on the side hull I must say that after passing the gate the dock widens about 1 meter).
I decide not to wait for the bowthruster because now nobody knows when or if it will be ready so I start to move the vessel with the aft tug pulling slowly, when we are joined on the bridge by the company superintendent. And this is when the two masters begin to be really worried about the new paint job (both captains, in the presence of their company superintendent tend to become uncomfortable, there is an obvious cultural difference problem that makes them fear that if something goes wrong their job will be at stake) …
When I then hear from one of the captains “it’s very close on this side, pilot” I have to answer “it’s very close on BOTH sides, Captain…”. The superintendent laughs and goes on his business, giving the chance for the masters to relax a little bit. Unlike the docking procedure, when we usually say to the more worried masters that if something goes wrong they are in the right place to repair their ship, on the undocking manoeuvres, with the vessel looking brand new and everybody proud of that new paint work, there is always extra anxiety on the bridge.
Drydocking or undocking is always a difficult task, particularly with a “dead” vessel (no power/propulsion) and the wind blowing on the ship's side. But everything goes fine, no scratches, no indentations, we pull the vessel out, make fast the other tug on the bow, swing the vessel and go starboardside alongside on another berth (easier said than done…).
Article Pilots and ship´s Captains
by Marine Pilot Luis Vale, Portugal - published on 23 August 2019
Lately there has been a considerable increase in opinions of seagoing ship´s masters complaining about pilotage services, expressed whether as LinkedIn articles and comments or in some reputable industry magazines.
Article The use of helmets... or “Why Do Pilots Not Wear Helmets?”
by Marine Pilot Luis Vale, Portugal - published on 20 August 2019
photo and article by Luis Vale, Portugal
Article Danish Butter Cookies...
by Marine Pilot Luis Vale, Portugal - published on 17 July 2019
Why “Danish Butter Cookies” are a part of the standard navigational equipment…
Video Marine Pilot at work in the port of Hamburg
How do marine pilots work?
Example: Bringing a bulkcarrier alongside to „Hansaport“ in Hamburg.
Here the tugboats „Prompt“, „Resolute“ and „Bulldog“ are involved.
The master has to rely on the pilot. One reason is, that he can‘t know how to deal with these tugs.
A maneuver like this is only safe, when the pilot has a lot of practical experience. A master who is doing a maneuver like this only about once or twice a month and each time with tugs he doesn’t know in areas he hasn’t been to often before will be happy to have a pilot to rely on.
A pilot is happy with a master having confidence in him.
Anyway the master keeps his overriding authority at any time.
Does the master have to ask every 30 seconds „What are the tugs doing“? Should he be able to see it himself? Does the pilot have to explain every 30 seconds what the tugs are going to do or what he will do next?
Well, the pilot and the master should talk about the maneuver and expected challenges before it becomes difficult. During a time of high concentration the maneuver should not be interrupted by unnecessary explanation. Anyway, when the master feels unsafe, he will raise his voice at any time he wants to.
In this case the Master and pilot felt comfortable!
In times of corona we have to keep a social distance even to the master, so he couldn't stand directly next to me.
Video Suez Canal Timelapse | Life at Sea on a Container Ship
Tag along as we journey through Suez Canal into Mediterranean Sea.
The ship is on a 77 days voyage from Asia to East Coast United States in which we've taken the Suez Canal route. By using Suez Canal instead of around cape of Africa, this will save more than 5000 miles of fuel and time.
The time-lapse was taken over 16 hours.
Video The Maryland Pilots between 1950-1965 (a journey through time)
Found on YouTube. Posted by WickleinGroup
The Maryland Pilots have guided ships to and from Baltimore since the 1700's. They have been chartered as an organization since 1852. This is an edited except from films about the Pilots shot between 1950-1965 for the Port that Built a City and State. The original films are in the archives of the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Video History: Red Pilots Guide Ships In Suez Canal (1956)
Found on YouTube. Created by "British Pathé"
Suez Canal, Egypt
LS. Ship on Canal. Various shots of Russian Red Pilots, walking along quayside, having conversation continuing their walk, looking in a manual, before boarding launch. MS. Pilots on launch, flag flying. Panning shot of Tanker. Various shots, looking up at men on tanker deck, man climbing up a rope ladder onto deck. (F.G.)
Video Good old times: PLA Thames Pilots at Work
Found on YouTube. Created by "Liquid highway"
Footage showing the ARCADIA leaving Tilbury Landing Stage and PLA pilot boarding sugar ship bound for Thames Refinery. footage taken from the documentary short film ' Till I End My Song'
Video TRENZ Pilot Plug - SEAiq
This video shows how to use the TRENZ Pilot Plug with an iPad and the app SEAiq.
SEAiq can be bought from the Apple AppStore.
Please visit https://trenz-pilotplug.com/ for more information.