The feel of the ship: The essence of Piloting

There’s a lot to be learned by talking to and watching pilots at work, can pick up useful tidbits here and there. Even more interesting is listening in and watching a veteran pilot interact with a trainee.


Absolutely fact. A special place in my heart for Federal Pilots of Louisiana. Although I did my own docking and sailing, (A personal choice, just because I liked doing it) all those fellows knew their business quite well, no matter what type vessel they encountered. Nothing but respect for them, they only handle Jones Act equipment.

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Thanks - nice article. Think there are lots you can learn from paying attention while the pilot is driving. Also great to develop some feel. But for most deep sea officers I think it is important they have a theoretical knowledge of ship handling as well. From simple things like understanding how the pivot point moves, relationship between turn radius and engine speed vs ship speed. Understanding basic hydraulic forces in narrow channels. When you understand the theory it is easier - at least IMO to see what and why the pilot is doing what he is doing. I also think there are some things you just can’t teach - that may only come from experience - - and sometimes not even then. One trait good pilots almost always have is an ability to see true motion at slow speeds. Sometimes I think you either have that or you don’t.