The Second Oldest Profession

Pilots. Until this week, I had not thought much about piloting. In fact, a pilot was someone who flew a plane. Get me to Seattle, safe and on-time, so we can pick up our rental and head northwest.

Our pilot this week did what he was supposed to do and we made our first visit to the Olympic Peninsula. We made our first (very long overdue visit) to friends in Port Angeles. We had our first view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the house on the hill.

The view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is superb, even on a cloudy day. Ships and boats of all shapes and sizes are moving through here throughout the day. Some stop for a bit but almost all move on through to Seattle. Every ship has a pilot. Not an airplane pilot, a boat pilot.

Pilots. Pilots are the people who meet the ship in the harbor, via the pilot boat, board it, and guide it safely through the waters. In this area, the pilots guide the ships to Seattle. Every ship is either required to pick one up, or certify (if a US ship) that they have a trained pilot on board. Pilots have extensive maritime experience, undergo training, achieve certifications and are very well-qualified. There is a waiting list, a professional organization and a little bit of "who you know." Pilots do what they do to the tune of $300,000 - $400,000 per year. What other cool things did my guidance counselor forget to tell me about?

It is really very intriguing. We had the opportunity to ride the pilot boat out to meet a Japanese freighter. The Japanese crew dropped out a rope ladder as we approached. We pulled up alongside the ship and held the pilot boat steady while the pilot climbed the ladder. We watched until he was safely inside. This harbor has not lost a pilot off the rope ladder and into the water yet. Superb. Stopping the pilot boat on a dime and pulling a tight 360 - very cool!  

Pilots. New to me yet they have been around as long as there have been ships traveling on seas.