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Boston Harbor Pilots

Trying to figure out the SquareSpace blog format, so bare with me for this first post. Recently shot a great story for Bloomberg News on the Boston Harbor Pilots. The photos are up on the Bloomberg Wire now, but I thought it would be nice to give a little write up on my shoot. 

 The cargo ship MSC Lorena outside of Boston Harbor on Aug. 16.

The cargo ship MSC Lorena outside of Boston Harbor on Aug. 16.

 

Every major port in the US, and most international ones, rely on a person called a Harbor Pilot to navigate vessels over a certain size into them. These pilots know their assigned harbors like the back of their hand, all of the little nuances like where the currents get stronger, where it's shallower, and where there are obstacles. Without them, ships could be crashing frequently, and the shipping economy would be at a stand still. In Boston, there are 8 pilots. I spent 2 different days out with a few of them following them on their job.

They work at all hours of the day, in all weather. The pilots board a 50 foot pilot boat that drives along side an incoming ship and the pilot climbs aboard the ship to take charge. This is not an easy task. Both boats are still moving at around 15 miles and hour, and they pilots wear no harnesses or helmets when they grab a rope ladder and climb aboard the ship. Sometimes, there are intense winds, huge waves, and bad weather like snow or rain. I was lucky to be able to climb aboard a car carrying ship and see what it was all about on my second day with the pilots.

 Me climbing about the car carrying ship Heroic Leader outside of Boston Harbor early on Aug. 23. Photo by Mike Schwarz

Me climbing about the car carrying ship Heroic Leader outside of Boston Harbor early on Aug. 23. Photo by Mike Schwarz

Once aboard, the pilot will tell the captain what heading to point the ship at, where the tug boats will attach, and pretty much anything to do with driving a ship into a harbor. Once the ship is done in the harbor, the pilots also guide it back out to sea. Sometimes the pilots also guide in and out certain yachts that are over a certain size as well. I love being out on the ocean, and when I can combine my love for the ocean + work, it's a great thing. Thanks to my editors at Bloomberg for this shoot! Gallery below.