Welcome to Nassau Harbour Pilots.Com
What is a harbour pilot?
Harbour pilots guide ships in and out of
harbours and through dangerous or difficult
waterways. It is one of the oldest, least known
professions and yet one of the most important
in terms of maritime safety.
The size and mass of large ships make them
very difficult to manoeuvre and even a slight
error in judgment can cause millions of dollars
The most challenging part of any ship's voyage
is the passage through the narrow waterways
that lead to port and the final docking of the ship.
The pilot brings to the ship expertise in handling
large vessels in confined waterways and expert
local knowledge of the port.
In addition to bringing local maritime expertise
on board, the pilot also relieves the captain from
the economic pressures that can compromise
Normally the pilot joins an incoming ship at sea
via helicopter or pilot boat and climbs a swaying
Jacob's ladder to the deck of the largest
container and tanker ships.
With outgoing vessels, a pilot boat returns the
pilot to land after the ship has successfully
negotiated coastal waters.
Pilots specifically use pilotage techniques
relying on nearby visual reference points and
local knowledge of tides, swells, currents,
depths and shoals that might not be readily
identifiable on nautical charts without first hand
experience in the waters in question.
Many years of experience in an operating area
are required to qualify as a pilot.
Beyond the experience and training of regular
ship's captains, pilots also receive special,
ongoing training to stay on top of their
Pilots are required by law in most major sea
ports of the world for large ships.