The latest issues: 321 & 322

Chairman’s Report: John Pearn


Looking back, 2016 was a year of note. Despite all the political drama the one thing I will sadly remember it for is the tragic loss of London Pilot, Gordon Coates on October 5th whilst boarding the vessel Sunni, in the River Thames off Gravesend. The MAIB is currently investigating the incident. Whatever the outcome of the report, we owe it to ourselves, and also no less importantly to our families, to act on the lessons learnt. Read the rest of this entry »

IIEC Course: Gareth Wilson


In 2013 the UKMPA took part in a project looking at Pilot Boat operations, with special reference to a pilot falling in the water and the cutter crew’s training for subsequent action and care. Read the rest of this entry »

128th Annual Conference: Mike Robarts


The Association’s Annual conference was sponsored by Seasafe Ltd and hosted on the Isle of Wight, a picturesque location where delegates also enjoyed some summer weather. Association Chairman John Pearn opened the conference on 17th September 2016 at 0930 with a gavel presented to the Association from the Spurn Pilots. Read the rest of this entry »

250 Years of the Liverpool Pilotage Service: 1766 – 2016 (Part 2) Geoff Topp


In both World Wars the pilots continued to do their business under unusually arduous conditions of enemy activity and blackout. In each of these conflicts a cutter was lost with heavy loss of life. The Alfred H. Read was sunk by enemy mine in the vicinity of the Bar lightship in December 1917, with the loss of thirty nine pilots, apprentices and crew, and then, in November 1939, the Charles Livingston was driven ashore on Ainsdale beach in a violent storm, with the loss of twenty-three pilots, apprentices and crew.  Read the rest of this entry »

Product Review: Transas Pilot Pro App: John Clandillon-Baker FNI

Several years ago Transas produced their iSailor app for iPads & iPhones. Based on their professional ECN vector charting system, the app provided a reasonably priced user friendly Electronic Charting System (ECS). Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary: Gordon Coates 1953-2016 (London Pilot)

Gordon Coates

Gordon went to sea at the age of 16. In 1970 he joined tramping company Turnbull Scott and spent three and a half years with them on a variety of vessels, doing various courses ashore at Tower Hill London.

He received his Second Mates Certificate during this time and later his Master’s Certificate. After that he spent a few years working in the North Sea, but moved on to Rowbotham tankers, trading all over north-west Europe and the West Indies. He then moved onto Stolt’s and, following that, eventually went into pilotage with the Port of London Authority. He gained his Class 1 Pilot Authorisation as soon as he could and would remain with them for the following 21 years, moving up classes and becoming a Duty Port Controller working in the Port Control Centre as a Supervisor and Duty Harbour master.

Besides his family back in Gloucestershire (Lorna his wife and Julia his daughter), Gordon had two great passions in life: Lydney Rugby Club and his allotment. He watched his team play all over the south-east and was almost as proud of the vegetables he harvested.

After the service, Lorna described her husband as an incredibly loyal, steadfast and generous man who
developed a passion for the sea life as a young boy. “He loved being a pilot,” Lorna said. “He especially liked the lack of paperwork but most especially the camaraderie.”

Gordon is survived by wife Lorna, daughter Julia and his two Dachshunds Nixa and Nora.

Hywel Pugh


Dearest Gordon,

What can I say?

One of the best in the PLA.

Of all the pilots I have known,

You were one of the few who didn’t moan.

You took each job without a fight,

Except for Sunk jobs, late at night.

Werther’s Originals, Daschunds and Westies:

During night-time shifts they were the besties.

Without your humour and smiling face

Port Control is a sadder place.

Take care kind Gordon, enjoy your rest;

To have worked with you, I have been blessed.

Elaine Lipscombe,
PLA pilotage co-ordinator


Obituary: Bill Bailey 1928-2017 (Milford Haven Pilot)

Bill was very much his own man, quiet, gifted, independent of thought and action, and a most competent seaman. Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary: Albert Cools 1945-2017 (EMPA Secretary General 1993 to 2005)

Albert followed the usual career path of the Brabo (Antwerp) boatmen and Dock Pilots Company as a boatman, and then in due course qualified as a Brabo Dock pilot in Antwerp. Read the rest of this entry »

“Wheel to Midships”: Mike Robarts


This authoritative direction was heard loud and clear during a programme on Quest TV. The voice belonged to Rory Jackson, a Southampton pilot, and ‘Mighty Ships’ was the programme’s title. Here was yet another example of a media presentation of a British pilot at work, allowing viewers a fascinating insight into what a pilot does. Read the rest of this entry »

Liverpool Pilots Cycle 250 miles for 250 Years: Dave Roberts

cycle 1

Kevin Walsh, Dan Wardle, Alan Windsor, Scott Birrell, Tim Nuttall, Paul Stephenson,
Rob Baker, Mark Wilbourne, Mark Harding, David Roberts, John Slater, Bill Hughes,
Tom Tebay

I should begin this article with a warning: when you make an off the cuff suggestion on a pilot launch it can gain momentum.

We were discussing the various ways we could commemorate the forthcoming 250th anniversary of our Pilot service and I made the suggestion that we could ride 250 miles on our bikes. So it began. Read the rest of this entry »

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