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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