No applause for them from the shipping press. Nor glowing tributes at fancy awards dinners. Yet, maritime pilots quietly perform work that is nothing short of heroic. Just climbing up the rope ladder to board a ship requires courage and skill. Pilots are on call 24/7 in fair or foul weather to maneuver ships through dangerous or congested harbours and river mouths.

To be sure, the job can be rewarding. Compensation for harbour pilots in the US state of Florida is said to range from $100,000 to $400,000 per annum. Be that as it may, the fact remains that pilots and the service they render are often undervalued and taken for granted. To these brave spirits, I wish to pay tribute by sharing the following works of art. Carry on, gentlemen!

Liver’, Pilot Sloop No. 9
Miles Walters (English, 1774–1849) and Samuel Walters (English, 1811–1882)
Image courtesy of Merseyside Maritime Museum
Shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence (CC BY-NC).

Steamship, pilot cutter
Ludvig Richarde (Swedish, 1862-1929)
Image courtesy of Sjöhistoriska Museet, Stockholm

A pilot comes aboard a ship, in or after 1666
Joost van Geel (Dutch, 1631–1698)
Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Pilot goes aboard, 1882
Bror Anders Wikstrom (Swedish, 1854-1909)
Image from Wikimedia Commons

The Pilot, 1928
Charles Herbert Woodbury (American, 1864–1940)
Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The pilot takes a smoke, 1912
Christian Krohg (Norwegian, 1852–1925)
Image courtesy of Lillehammer kunstmuseum (Lillehammer Art Museum)

~ Barista Uno

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