Likelihood of a hawse-piper as a River pilot?

Curious about the Branch pilots, Crescent City pilots, and NOBRA pilots & the likelihood of a hawse piper getting in? Requirements say “college degree” but also say ‘preferred but not required’. Do these associations have many hawse-pipers?

I’ve mainly only ever dealt with the Federal pilots, who have a handful of hawse-pipers in their association.


Zero unless you have family.

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I’ve sailed with over 30 guys that are pilots now. Probably 2/3 were hawsepipers. The 2 guys I sailed with that are Crescent and NOBRA pilots were excellent mates but had kinfolk in the group.

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Yeah, that’s the downside, but many associations are starting to steer away from this. For example, Florida and the west coast of the US are based off test scores.

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That’s true, but the river pilots don’t roll that way. How you got got your license is not important. You’re either born in or marry in.


Exactly. End of story. I don’t encourage anyone to try and find this out the hard way. I’ve seen it happen to many.

Really? I know of 2 that got in without any kin…was more worried about the college degree thing.

I used to run the pilot boat on the MRGO, early 1980’s. I met a a lot of pilots. Most had the same few last names. I did meet one pilot who was not related. He worked his way up through a Harbor Tug Company (who also interact with pilots) . I think he worked for Bisso…

I grew up in NOLA. In High School I had a date with a girl. We just did not hit it off…
We had mutual friends, years later I went to a party at her house and there was a beautiful model of an Exxon Tanker in the Den. Her father was Pilot…
Que Sera!

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Yes you need a college degree. You can have a college degree and still hawsepipe; those are not mutually exclusive (a regular bachelor’s not maritime related and then get on tugs).

I also grew up in Nola and know many of the pilots. I knew a guy who married into the family at 31 and then finished his bachelor’s before hawsepiping at Bisso. You have to be cut loose before 38 FYI. But thinking a degree supercedes who you know or having the right last name is a mistake. It is very much the opposite.

In the river, you can get any amount of family on. So if you have 3 kids, you can get them all on while you are still in the association. From my understanding, Houston pilots say you can get your kid as soon as you retire. You can’t have a family member enter while you are still there. Care to verify @OneEighteen? Comparing river pilots to other associations is another mistake.

Houston is an open association that actively avoids nepotism. Two family members related closer than 3 degrees of separation cannot be members at the same time.


That’s not ‘avoiding nepotism’, that’s obsessively avoiding the appearance of nepotism.

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“That’s not ‘avoiding nepotism’, that’s obsessively avoiding the appearance of nepotism.”

Your reply is unnecessarily provocative. There is nothing “obsessive” about a separation policy. The rule works. The overwhelming majority of pilots in Houston are not related and the association is open to mariners with nothing to offer except reputation, career preparation, experience, and a great work ethic

They’re so afraid of appearing like there’s nepotism that they refuse to hire the best person because they’re distantly related to an existing pilot. That’s completely obsessive and discriminatory.

OK. You’re coming from a different direction than I thought. My apologies.

I would hope that oversensitivity to the issue doesn’t keep some perfectly qualified (and legally separated) person from becoming a member.

Where do you draw the line between distantly related and legally separated? :thinking:

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Probably somewhere between Alabama & Mississippi.

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I guess rules is rules. Over 10 years ago, 2 Lake Charles pilots got married and one had to resign.

Sure, but they just get their kids into any other Texas port instead…