Pilots’ Golf Day: Malcolm Watts

Fourteen stalwarts met at the Shawhills Golf and Spa on the 2018 May Bank Holiday weekend to do battle for the Manchester Salver and the Peter Ryder Cup. Read the rest of this entry »

UK Pilots’ Football Triumph: Kevin Walsh


This year the Empa football tournament was held in Bremerhaven on the 25th of May in glorious sunshine. The UK once again entered a team. We had 15 players of whom only two had not played before. Read the rest of this entry »

Liverpool Pilots Cycle 250 miles for 250 Years: Dave Roberts

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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 »

Pilot Boat Rescue Mission: Mike Robarts

The article in this magazine on the IIEC rescue course highlights some of the hazards we need to be prepared for. Sometimes the pilot launch can be the first to respond to a casualty.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lloyd’s Reception: John Clandillon-Baker

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The 127th UKMPA conference was held on board the HQS Wellington on 4 and 5 November 2015. On the evening of the 4th the UKMPA hosted a reception for delegates, speakers and guests at Lloyd’s of London. Read the rest of this entry »

EMPA Football: Kenneth MacInnes

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The UKMPA team

The 51st EMPA football tournament was hosted on 14-15 May 2015 by Amsterdam pilots. The UK competed with pilots from Norway, France, Belgium, Italy, three districts in Germany, three in the Netherlands, and an EMPA squad of extra players and volunteers. The UK squad was striving to go one better than reaching the final of last year’s tournament in Kiel, where Weser-Ems scored in the last moments of extra time to win 3-2.

On the first evening players, supporters, friends and family members gathered in the Grand Hotel Krasnopolsky, in central Amsterdam. We renewed acquaintances over a buffet and drinks, dancing and fine live music, and most importantly we observed the drawing of the two groups of teams. The UK was drawn with Vlissingen (Flushing), France, Kiel, EMPA and Weser-Ems.

Next morning coaches drove the squads and supporters to the sv RAP playing fields. Four pitches – three grass and one artificial – were of excellent quality. Each team had five group matches of two halves of fifteen minutes. At Kiel the UK brought only nine players, with two pilots from France adding greatly to the effort, but this year eighteen turned out from the UK, so there was much rotation, with two players for most positions.

The weather in the morning was ideal, being overcast but dry with a cooling breeze. The UK started a little slowly against Flushing but defended well. There was a fortunate penalty when the Flushing keeper saved an accidental handball. The UK found the net in the second half, though their effort was disallowed as offside. A goalless draw ensued.

Next up were champions Weser-Ems, who took an early lead with a quick break and first time shot after sustained UK pressure. We continued to dominate, with a flowing move producing a fine equaliser. Another spell of good play made for a 2-1 lead before half time. The second half had more good teamwork from the UK but no further goals resulted. Victory was even sweeter, because last year’s defeat in the final included a blatant dive to win the penalty that put us 2-0 behind.

Several UK players contributed to the EMPA team that played France and saw at first hand, in a 6-0 defeat, the quality of our next opponents, especially going forward. The UK played well against the French but went behind to a goal from Dominique, who had a major hand in helping us to the final last year. France had an exceptionally good goalkeeper who saved a fierce shot at almost point blank range late in the second half to maintain the slender lead and win 1-0.

Shortly after a buffet lunch – and perhaps a little too soon for comfort, with the sun bright and the wind gone – the UK had its fourth match. This was against an EMPA selection and, knowing that France had scored six against EMPA, the UK was fairly ruthless in netting nine without reply.

Our final group match was against Kiel, who wasted three excellent chances during the UK’s sluggish start. The second half was much better, with the UK dominant, but many good chances came to nothing, the bar rattling twice and other shots soaring high or drifting wide. Two breaks from Kiel were thwarted by fine saves from the UK keeper, but whose second resulted in a corner from which a header gave Kiel a 1-0 win.

Flushing was the group winner and on goal difference the UK just got second spot, thanks to the goalfest against EMPA, combined with our robust defence. The play-offs from fifth and sixth placements were decided by penalties, but UK vs Rotterdam for third spot looked to be a thrilling match. Fatigue was setting in, so to our relief this play-off was only ten minutes each way.
The UK defended well and attacked with numerous flowing moves. Several inviting crosses through the six-yard box went unrewarded, before a diving header from beyond the far post produced the only goal. Flushing defeated Norway 1-0 in extra time to win the trophy in front of a large crowd enjoying the refreshments at the start of a very relaxed Happy Hour and some strong sunshine. Coaches then returned squads and supporters to the Barbizon Palace Hotel, opposite Central Station.

The dinner dance was held in St Olofskapel, a large underground space linked to the Barbizon. It filled for the presentation of trophies, a buffet and dancing to music from an excellent band. The UK did well to finish third, conceding only three goals in three hours of play, and after going so far this year and last it is hoped that another strong squad can assemble for the 52nd tournament, in Rotterdam on 20-21 May 2016. Perhaps the UK can finally bring the winning trophy back from Europe.

As in previous years, many thanks to Simon Wood of Liverpool Pilots for keeping squad members informed, organising the costs and bringing the kit.


Piloting the 3 Queens at Liverpool: James Smart (Liverpool Pilot)

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I landed in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands on 23rd May 2015 to join Queen Elizabeth for the passage south to Liverpool. We were to take part in the ‘main event’ of Cunard’s ‘Three Queens’ meeting in the river Mersey to mark 175 years of Cunard.

My colleagues, Chris Booker for Queen Mary 2 and Simon Wood for Queen Victoria, had also travelled to Greenock and St Peter Port respectively in order to avoid any risk of not boarding safely at Liverpool Bar. We were to have navigation briefs onboard with all senior officers and two conference calls between the three ships and management ashore in Southampton, to iron out any last minute glitches and to discuss the weather likely on the day. Read the rest of this entry »

A view on Southampton Pilotage: George Livingstone

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I’ve spent the last few mornings looking out over the San Francisco Bay wondering about the far flung, wide spread scope of marine transportation. I remember as a boy my father taking us to the harbour where we would sit and watch the ships come and go for hours on end. I suppose most readers of this magazine have a similar interest in the sea and the great ports of the world.  Read the rest of this entry »

UKMPA Members Visit Manchester ship Canal: JCB & Mike Morris

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Map 2


Maps reproduced courtesy of the MSC Centenary Souvenir Programme.

2014 saw the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal and, with the UKMPA annual conference being held in Chester, the Manchester pilots arranged for delegates to take a trip from Eastham Lock to Runcorn on board two of Carmet’s canal tugs on the afternoon before the conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Commonwealth Flotilla: Matt Hill



On Friday 25 July I stood in scorching Greenock sunshine and watched as over 250 leisure craft began mustering at James Watt Dock marina in Greenock preparing to take part in the Commonwealth Games flotilla before proceeding up the River Clyde to Princes Dock in Glasgow. This was to be the largest organised flotilla ever on the Clyde. Read the rest of this entry »

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