They That Go Down to The Sea in Ships

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Top photo - Bermuda pilot boat circa about 1800's. Pilots and crew rowed great distances, sometimes more than fifty nautical miles to be the first to bring the mother ship in through the ship channels.

Bottom photo - identical type of sloop up on dry dock for maintenance


Top photo - looking closely, there are actually two boats. The pilot of the first is launching himself onto the mothership, to be the first to pilot the boat into safe harbours.

Below, our Bermuda modern day pilot, in white marine uniform, and pilot boat.

     We Commemorate our Bermuda Pilots


In Bermuda, the primeval influence of the sea is everywhere. It is part of us, not easily separated from us. It is the salt in our blood; the spray on our faces; the essence of moisture in our lungs. Our ocean is never far away, less than a mile from any homestead. It penetrates our being; it assaults our senses and shores with intimidating towering ferocious rollers in storm-driven surf. It is euphoric on blissful sunny days, glittery sparkling rainbow lights dancing off azure waves. In dawning pink-blushed tranquility, it elevates our souls. The sea has been our perpetual conduit for commerce and discovery. For centuries, it was our only access to the outside world. For we islanders were, and still are, dependent upon the sea for our livelihood. It is our one constant, always there - surrounding this tiny isle in the fourth most remote spot on earth. We Bermudians know the sea – very well. Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate.........


For more than 400 years, Bermuda sailors have roved the high seas. They built highly desired internationally renowned fast sloops, earning skilled reputations for danger, daring, and dedication. By the early 1700's, Bermuda maritime commerce contained more than 700 merchant fleet vessels used for fishing, whaling, trade, plundering, smuggling, and privateering. Bermudian seaman played auxiliary roles in this strategic Atlantic Ocean location during the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and English and American War for Independence. They ran crucial supply blockades (more than 1,800 visits) during the American Civil War, and provided troop support in the World Wars. They rescued many sea faring souls, some deliberately, some inadvertently, shipwrecked off our coasts.

Among these ancestral sailors were the legendary mighty men, our fearless Bermuda pilots whose original navigational tools consisted primarily of their own innate skills, the sea, stars and sky. It was not until 1805 that the first chart, Heathers Improved Chart of the Bermudas was published, documenting and adding to their traditional knowledge . Piloting in Bermuda was a respected, stressful occupation demanding intuitive planning, great physical and mental strength. In early days, a crew rowing at full speed might easily surpass twenty nautical miles in the race for the first right to pilot a ship, the most lucrative nautical prize. The job required ingenuity and intuitive observations of the ever-changing marine environment. A Bermuda Pilot’s expert guidance and ocean risk management brought vital commerce through ruthless reefs and treacherous shoals into our calm safe harbors. Their legacy has been an extraordinary contribution to the building of the economic infrastructure of our country.

Bermuda's influence still has far reaching significance. Today, our Bermuda’s international finance centre is home to some of the largest risk managers in the world. We honor these pilots of old (these original maritime risk takers) with archival photos sourced to us by the Bermuda Maritime Museum. View the superb commemorative book, Bermuda Piloting, celebrating Bermuda's brave mariners and written by Elena Strong, Acting Curator, Jane Downing, Registrar, Adrian Webb and edited by Rosemary Jones, Brimstone Media Ltd. It is a treasure and should be in every home in Bermuda and elsewhere for those with connections to the sea.


Physical trade by sea and by air will continue conventionally, used for shipment of goods and personnel. Physical world boundaries will always exist, but our stratospheric world has expanded electronically. More than ever, we need to understand our faster-than-the-speed-of-light world, our finances, our goals, and our place in life. With information crossing all borders, intellectual reefs and shoals still exist, still dangerous yet far more complex while mental obstacles have become the new challenge. The consequences of ignoring planning in our electronic world, may mean not only the difference between financial success and failure, but the blink-of-an-eye liquidation of one’s entire financial resources, perpetrated by resourceful predatory electronic thieves.


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