Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pilot Boats

Something you might not know, if you've never been on a cruise:  Cruise ships are big.  Okay, so you knew that.  But did you know that these goliath ships, when navigating shallow or tricky passages, get help from local captains who know their waters better than most world-traveling cruise ship captain ever can?

They arrive in pilot boats--little speedboats dwarfed by the cruise ships they're helping.  These little vessels pull up next to the gigantic hulls of the cruise ships, like really, really brave pirates, and the pilot literally jumps on board, grabbing hold of a ladder and climbing up into an open hatch.  Off speeds the pilot boat, and the local captain guides the cruise ship through to safety.  All very exciting for a new cruiser.

Every time I saw a pilot boat, I'd lean over the railing to watch, sometimes running for a better view from elsewhere, always thrilled by the James-Bond-esque excitement of the maritime chase, even more thrilled if I actually caught a glance of the nimble James Bond-esque captain hopping on or off his boat.  I suppose I'm easily thrilled, but life is more beautiful that way.

I never seemed to have a camera on hand, until the last full day.  So here are the best photos I caught:

Here comes the pilot boat.  So bold.  So brash.  

Prepare to be boarded!

Up hops the captain

Off goes the boat

Proudly proclaiming its pilot status

Riding the waves off into the horizon
Another happy ending.

Brought to you by me and James pilot boat captain.  Pictured below.

If you want to go and see pilot boats in actions, 
check out my new book on Amazon:   Cruising Alaska on a Budget,


  1. Loved the photos!

    So many things to see and do on a cruise that this could easily be missed. I hope to notice such things if or when I go on my next cruise.

  2. Amazing! I had never thought of that. I thought pilot boats were just boats who went ahead of ships to show them the way. (If I had thought much about it at all)

  3. Love those little moments that take us to other places, other times... pictures. This is fabulous! Hope to go one day on such a cruise...