Canaveral Pilots Association has a new $820,000 pilot boat, replacing a 1991 model, with the expectation it will make the often harrowing trip to offshore vessels a little smoother
It's the pilot boat operators that maneuver the comparatively tiny vessels alongside gigantic cruise and cargo ships to line up for the pilot's jump onto a ladder rope three feet off the water.
"We communicate to the ship and meet them at the pilot station about six or seven miles out. We'll have them slow down to six to eight knots for a boarding speed. The pilot boat comes alongside cruise and cargo ships, then pins the boat against the ladder for the pilot to grab the ladder and climb up,'' explains Doug Mutter, business director of the Canaveral Pilots Association.
The 45-foot aluminum inboard boat features a raised bridge and a single-screw 650-hp John Deere engine capable of about 25 knots, even in rough seas. It draws about six-and-a-half feet of draft.