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 »

Chairman’s Report: John Pearn




It is with great sadness that I find myself considering the consequences of another pilot fatality. Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary: George Walter Havens (Bristol Pilot) 1923 – 2017

George Havens


George was born in Portishead, on 26 th September 1923 and attended Bristol South Central School from 1934-1938. Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary: Anthony Rowe Jones 1928-2017

Tony Jones

Anthony Rowe (Tony) Jones died on 27 th November 2017 and was a Manchester Ship Canal pilot for over 30 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary: Alec Cooke 1939 – 2017

Alec Cooke

Alaistair (Alec) Cooke was born in Newcastle -upon-Tyne in 1939. Read the rest of this entry »

Chairman’s Report 2017


Many of us consider pilotage to be a localized industry. However, our practices are often decided by other persons and organisations. 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 »

Obituary: Roger Williams 1940-2017 (Retired Bristol Channel Pilot)

It is a serious relation, that in which a man stands to his ship. A ship is a creature which we have brought into this world, as it were on purpose to keep us up to the mark. In her handling a ship will not put up with a mere pretender.
Joseph Conrad Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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


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