Pilotage Trip Verification


Take it seriously, but don’t over do it or over think it, or over study too much.

I looked at the chart of Fouchon. That is an easy chart to draw. A good one to learn on.


I agree 100%, I thought that’s what I told him…


Yeah. A lot of straight lines and very few navigational aids.


And IIRC, there’s only one chart to draw for all of Fourchon.


Florida actually just posted some openings a couple days ago and along with what charts would be tested for each area.

The man that I spoke to about pilotage in Florida gave me an idea of the testing requirements. He emphasized that they look for the best of the best which is why they take the approach that they have on selecting pilots by the highest test scores. He also informed me that the tests that they administer are much more difficult than the USCG tests. He said that the USCG gives people a license who meet the MINIMUM standards while the Pilots look for the people who are exemplary. That made complete sense to me and I understand why they want those candidates.

Apparently each Pilot Association has a different training regimen and buy in for their area. Pay also seems to be different for each locale. I assume this has to do with volume of traffic / business.

After speaking with them and seeing the replies to the thread, I am going to challenge myself to meet a goal. I will shoot for it. Getting one of the 5 highest scores in the state will be difficult but with enough practice, hopefully I can get there!

At this point, I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be getting the qualifying time on a vessel that has a carriage requirement of a 2nd Mate on the COI.


Like I mentioned in my original reply. The exam is the equivalent of the bar or medical boards for professional mariners. Typically 3 to 4 attempts to compete for the top spot. Scoring is down to the thousandth of a point and you can contest the questions you got wrong afterword and improve your position. It’s the fairest method for selecting state pilots in the country in my opinion. Buy ins are different for each port as are the salaries.

Good for you. Set the goal and make it happen. I see port canaveralnis testing this year. The proverbial “golden ring” in Florida. Mostly daylight only transits, a good living, a sweet house on Merritt island. Live the dream!


Is that a requirement for the pilots? That’s an odd one.



Seems like they did away with that, but now want time from two different areas as listed in the link. Looks like they mostly are looking for people who have been pilots in other areas or on the Great Lakes in order to meet the requirements.


I finally found the actual statute:


“1. At least 2 years of service at sea during the 5-year period immediately preceding the examination, 1 year of which must have been in at least the capacity of an unlimited second mate

Also of note:

“4. At least 2 years of towing experience during the 5-year period immediately preceding the examination, 1 year of which must have been in the capacity of master of a tugboat/barge combination of at least 5,000 gross registered tons, combined tonnage, while holding a license as master of freight and towing vessel of at least 1,600 gross registered tons upon oceans”


I expect you could turn in sea time as second mate or higher from an unlimited vessel, regardless of what the COI requires. There are unlimited vessels that only require (1) “Master” and (3) “Mates” or (1) “Master”, (1) “Chief Mate”, and (2) “Mates”.


When I spoke with the guy on the phone, I was told that they will request a copy of the COI to ensure the sea time qualifies.

Now I do not know if that is SOP or if he was just trying to help me ensure my time was acceptable.


Even if they do, the COI doesn’t determine your position onboard. If you work on an unlimited ship that doesn’t require a “second mate” via it’s COI that isn’t grounds for them to deny you under that statute. They might look for things like “is it an OSV” on the COI and deny your time on OSVs since an OSV isn’t an unlimited ship.

Edit: they might try to deny your time but I don’t see that holding up to scrutiny. Example, the Transatlantic is an unlimited tonnage cargo ship but it only requires (1) “Master” and (3) “Mates” on it’s COI. They have no grounds to claim that time on there as second mate doesn’t meet the statue’s requirement just because the COI doesn’t specifically require a second mate.


I haven’t went over the statute as of yet. He sent me a few materials to review. He also said that he would be more than happy to help me out. One thing I do recall him stating was that the vessel would need to require a 2nd mate on the COI.

I do agree with you that I do not see that in this statute.

I am of the thinking that the requirements that are below 1-5 are meant to be read as if they have OR after each one. I cannot imagine they expect someone to have sailed on all of those different types of vessels in those specific positions all within a recency period…

When speaking with the gentleman on the phone, he never mentioned any of this and I had informed him that all of my service was on an OSV except for a small amount of time on one of our subsea construction vessels that was not classed OSV. He told me he was unsure of the requirements on there but that I should do what I can to get the 2nd mate time on a qualifying vessel.

EDIT: Reading back over the emails he and I had exchanged, he said that my first 300 days he could accept but the remaining 300 would have to fall into ONE of the categories in the statute.


That might be how they differentiate an “unlimited ship” from a large OSV. I don’t think it would stand up to a legal review by the state but you might not consider that worth your time. Besides, you don’t have any time on an unlimited ship, let alone on one that doesn’t require a second mate.


I’ve worked with state and federal pilots for almost 20 years and while I hate to discourage anyone getting into a State Pilot association is very difficult. Each port usually has its own association and some are ruled by nepotism. A lot require you not only hold a Master Unlimited but have obtained it via an academy. The state board may have minimum requirements but the organization you are applying to will have its own rules and they will likely require much of what I said above. I know the Houston Pilots take half of their guys off of the harbor/ocean tug fleet and half from ship guys. Places like Savannah Ga have about 4-5 last names and if you don’t have it you won’t get in. Most will require a 2-3 year apprenticeship before becoming a full share pilot. Like some of the other guys said unless you have been selected for their program they won’t let you ride to get your trips out of the kindness of their heart. They hold their cards close to their chest. Federal pilots are a little easier or get into but still require the apprenticeship. The State Pilot system is very political and honestly operates like a monopoly. There is also a “buy in” to almost all organizations. It like an initial investment that you will recoup with interest when you retire but depending on the organization it can be substantial. Many don’t recognize seatime from OSVs and drawing the Fouchon chart will only allow you to Pilot there. I’m sure some of the foreign flag boats that come in there have to take a compulsory pilot but most of the tugs with oil barges have guys running on recency. I wish you the best by it’s a hard row to hoe…


Yes, I have heard that in many places the pilot associations are infested with nepotism and the like. From what I understand about Florida, the system is pretty fair.

When the Pilot association is in need of a pilot, they inform the state of Florida who administers a test. The 5 highest scoring candidates are chosen for interviews. The association does not get to hire on their own accord which helps prevent the monopolization of the associations.

I greatly appreciate the information that you have provided. The pilot commission in Florida has informed me that the OSV time will not be allowed for the qualifying time needed.


Could you post a pdf of this trip verification form?


I thought that’s what I said…


Here you go. This was sent to me by the NMC, it is for the FCP.



You did, someone followed up at a later point and I was commenting in reference to them.

The commission did say that they could use 300 of the required 600 days though.