A New York harbour
pilot’s all-weather job


pilot-boatFor over 300 years members of the Sandy Hook Pilots Association have been helping ships’ captains to navigate their way through the tricky layout of the Hudson River and New York harbour. A spokesman for the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which represents local commercial shipping companies, revealed that the natural depth in the harbour runs to a maximum of 26 feet.

pilot-approaches-qm2Over the years, as ships have got bigger and deeper, channels have had to be dredged and cut, and it is the local pilots who know and understand these channels. And it is not only the liners who come through, more and more container ships, tankers and other large vessels pass. Additionally the waterway is crowded with ferries, pleasure craft, yachts, canoes and all manner of small vessels.

For some years now the Army Corps of Engineers, under contract from the Port Authority, have been cutting a new 50-foot deep channel to accommodate the larger vessels expected now the Panama Canal has been expanded. This work has also required the difficult task of raising the Bayonne Bridge to give the vessels sufficient clearance.

The skill of the harbour pilot is knowing where each ferry is going to turn, which sandbars have shifted, and where the tidal currents are strongest. Radar and GPS help but nothing beats local knowledge! And he does this in all weathers, every day of the year.