Coast pilots cherish their hard-earned reputation for excellence

By BCShippingNews
March 12 2013
Photo by Dave Roels
Under the care of the BC Coast Pilots, is the biggest pilotage district in the world...

One of the most coveted jobs in Canada is navigating some rough seas right now. Being a marine pilot is not only professionally demanding, but highly paid on a par some say with airline pilots, making it one of the most difficult professions to crack.

The ranks of the B.C. Coast Pilots Ltd. currently stand at 98 “entrepreneurs”, as their President, Captain Fred Denning, likes to call them.

Check out our photo gallery: Pilots at work - Photographer Dave Roels gives us a glimpse into the world of pilotage.

Under their care is the biggest pilotage district in the world, stretching over 15,000 nautical miles of pristine and ecologically sensitive coastline, which includes some 30 different ports between the southern Canadian border and Alaska.

B.C. Coast Pilots Ltd. is a private company that is celebrating its 40th year of incorporation in 2013. It has a Board of Directors made up of five serving pilots and has roots stretching back to 1929 when the first British Columbia Coast Pilots Association was created. Today’s B.C. Coast Pilots get their work under contract from the federally run Pacific Pilotage Authority.

In contrast, the separate Fraser River Pilots, who control British Columbia’s mightiest river from Sand Heads Light at the river mouth to New Westminster, are unionized employees also drawing their assignments from the PPA.

For all of B.C.’s marine pilots, it hurts when there are incidents that gain the news media headlines when thousands and thousands of jobs are completed successfully — something like 99.97 per cent incident-free in fact.

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