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Thread started 19 Mar 2012 (Monday) 14:16
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Risky Pilot Job

 
BioSci
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Mar 19, 2012 14:16 |  #1

We sailed on the Carnival Triumph to Mexico last week. The first stop was Progreso, a port city on the northern side of the Yucatan. As we left the port, I went up to the forward deck on the 9th floor to watch the ship leave the long channel. I was treated to a scene of death-defying courage by the city harbor pilot. He does this twice a week. There's not enough money ion the world to get me to take his job.

Shot with a 7D, using a 100-400mm L. C&C welcomed.

This first shot shows the harbor pilot's boat waiting for us at the end of the channel. He was just sitting there at first, burt as we passed, the pilot boat gunned the engine.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7876.jpg


The pilot boat is accelerating toward the cruise ship.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7890.jpg


Now he's really picking up speed as he's catching up with the big ship going full throttle.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7937.jpg


He's pulling alongside the port side of the cruise ship. Notice that the pilot boat had to change direction to match the turn of the cruise ship after it cleared the channel.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7946.jpg


He's getting closer to the side of the ship. If you look closely, you can see a rope ladder hanging down from the cruise ship just even with the front of the pilot boat.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7959.jpg


The harbor pilot climbs down the rope ladder. Notice that he's not wearing a life jacket, despite the near-certainty of death if he falls into the water.

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7962.jpg


That's one small step for a man...

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7965.jpg


He'd better hold on tight! Notice that the guy behind him is wearing flip-flops!!

IMAGE: http://mat99.ath.cx/potn/IMG_7971.jpg

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rick_reno
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Mar 19, 2012 14:27 |  #2

great set, yep, that's something i don't think i would want to do




  
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cicopo
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Mar 19, 2012 17:00 |  #3

You got a great series there. Well done both on noticing what was going on & on the photo series. I spend a lot of vacations in Cozumel (to dive) and basically I've come to accept flip flops as their idea of work boots, both at construction sites & on the dive boats. I'd guess they've found what works in the wet, but I don't think they suit one job I watched years ago. 2 men were doing road repairs using hot patch (a large area) in flip flops.


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shack
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Mar 19, 2012 18:02 |  #4

BioSci wrote in post #14114171 (external link)
He does this twice a week.

He probably does it much more than that. EVERY cruise & large maritime ship (and some military ships) are guided in and out of the harbor by a harbor pilot on the bridge. They know the channel and the lay of the harbor. The captain is still in charge but the harbor pilot gives directions to make sure the ships navigate in and out safely.

Notice that he's not wearing a life jacket, despite the near-certainty of death if he falls into the water.

It is really not that dangerous. Regardless of how it looks, the cruise ship at this point is probably only going 5 knots or less. The pilot boat is nudged up against the ship and it is really just a step off one on to the other. The biggest risk is if he falls into the water and is hit by the pilot boat. Given the number of transfers from every ship in every port around the world, a harbor pilot accident is extremely rare and a fatal accident even moreso.

As a side note...they are extremely well paid. In the US a harbor pilot will make between $100,000 to $400,000 per year. The average fee every time a pilot steps on a ship in a US port the fee is around $1,500 it can be much more depending on the size of the ship.


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Mar 19, 2012 18:58 as a reply to  @ shack's post |  #5

cicopo wrote in post #14115029 (external link)
You got a great series there. Well done both on noticing what was going on & on the photo series. I spend a lot of vacations in Cozumel (to dive) and basically I've come to accept flip flops as their idea of work boots, both at construction sites & on the dive boats. I'd guess they've found what works in the wet, but I don't think they suit one job I watched years ago. 2 men were doing road repairs using hot patch (a large area) in flip flops.

No OSHA in Mexico...


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Mar 19, 2012 18:59 |  #6

You did a very nice job of showing the story in this sequence!

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cicopo
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Mar 19, 2012 19:55 |  #7

Worker safety in Mexico seems to be the responsibility of the worker, and with the huge unemployement problem in most areas contractors hire people willing to do anything for steady work. I used to have these on line but the site was shut down & I didn't copy the album to my current site. I just dug them up & have added them to an existing album about Cozumel. Notice the worker on the truck & one standing in the hot patch are both in flip flops. In the second shot you'll see another common practice, working ankle deep in cement in bare feet. I can't help but wonder how good that is for the skin when done day after day.

IMAGE: http://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-DZohmYp7J1A/T2fSpvigaZI/AAAAAAAAGK8/Ukg66qBPC1w/s1024/IMG_0260.JPG

IMAGE: http://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-U8nnY66G1fQ/T2fSubkEhyI/AAAAAAAAGLE/L_tOov6roeU/s1024/IMG_0226.JPG

You don't even want to think about the shoddy electrical systems I've seen nor count the number of restaurant fires blamed on wiring. Maybe someday down the road they'll start protecting workers & teach them safe practices.

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Gary ­ McDuffie
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Mar 19, 2012 21:46 |  #8

The guy on the pilot boat looks like he is wearing sandals, not flip-flops.


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wayne.robbins
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Mar 20, 2012 05:59 |  #9

cicopo wrote in post #14115916 (external link)
Worker safety in Mexico seems to be the responsibility of the worker, and with the huge unemployement problem in most areas contractors hire people willing to do anything for steady work. I used to have these on line but the site was shut down & I didn't copy the album to my current site. I just dug them up & have added them to an existing album about Cozumel. Notice the worker on the truck & one standing in the hot patch are both in flip flops. In the second shot you'll see another common practice, working ankle deep in cement in bare feet. I can't help but wonder how good that is for the skin when done day after day.

You don't even want to think about the shoddy electrical systems I've seen nor count the number of restaurant fires blamed on wiring. Maybe someday down the road they'll start protecting workers & teach them safe practices.

First off, it costs a great deal of money and time to teach safety- and to those workers (and contractors)- it's money they won't recoup anyways. So, they don't care.. Besides, if it burns down, they might be involved with the cleanup and rebuild- a win-win situation for them.. If someone dies on the job, there's probably up to several hundred people waiting to fill that position..
If it makes you feel better- I've witnessed a fair amount of housing projects here in the states- they use migrant workers extensively, mostly from the south (Mexico and farther south)- for similar reasons.. The builders- American builders, figure that it's the job of a single foreman, and the local building inspectors- to identify problems- and of course the home buyers responsibility- but not the contractors.. Of course, the builder gets workers that he does not need to pay for incidentals on (medical, unemployment, other benefits), at significantly lower wages, and of course the workers end up paying no taxes either. This problem is not limited to just homes, nor is it limited to just the south.. I've seen this occur with commercial properties being built out in the Washington DC area.. They take as much care when they go north of the border as they did when they were south of it..


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Mar 20, 2012 06:16 as a reply to  @ wayne.robbins's post |  #10

Its what you are used to. Until this time last year I worked as a sailing instructor (offshore) and we prided ourselves that we ran the courses regardless of the weather.

The images the OP has put up show the sea state was reasonable. I'd have been perfectly happy to do the same.

Sadly I had a series of black-outs last March which have put paid to my sailing, I believe for good.


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ump107
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Mar 20, 2012 06:31 |  #11

shack wrote in post #14115300 (external link)
It is really not that dangerous. Regardless of how it looks, the cruise ship at this point is probably only going 5 knots or less. The pilot boat is nudged up against the ship and it is really just a step off one on to the other. The biggest risk is if he falls into the water and is hit by the pilot boat. Given the number of transfers from every ship in every port around the world, a harbor pilot accident is extremely rare and a fatal accident even moreso.

+1
When I was in the Coast Guard we used to do a similar move almost every time we took crewmembers on and off of the small boats when underway. The Coxswain operating the smallboat has the hard job of keeping the small boat against the hull of the larger boat, not too bad unless the seas are rough. It looks like you had nice weather for your cruise, at least at that port.


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Mar 20, 2012 23:07 |  #12

My wife and I cruised the triumph in January on the same trip. Loads of fun. Nice shots.


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Mar 21, 2012 03:54 |  #13

Spent a week working with a pilot when I was young. Amazing experience. Rope ladders up the side of ships was not a big deal - getting crushed between the pilot boat and the ship in heavy weather was the real hazard. One transition we lost a few wooden rungs before we even started up - you read the swells best you can.
Pilots are well paid and treated as VIPs onboard (they over rule the captain when onboard) but for most it is a retirement position for sea captains.


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altitude604
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Mar 21, 2012 04:02 |  #14

cool series! wasn't the pilot i was thinking of when i opened the thread.

enjoyed the shots. :)


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Mar 21, 2012 08:12 as a reply to  @ altitude604's post |  #15

. . . great series, properly sequenced with good clear captures !!


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