The playwright George Bernhard Shaw once said “the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This phrase perfectly describes the central constraint preventing harmonized working between a pilot and Master – communication.
The Master and pilot are dependant on each other for a safe and successful beginning or end of a voyage. They are both operating in a foreign environment. The pilot is not familiar with the characteristics or limitations of the vessel, such as a problem with the anchor windlass or speed at various RPMs; and similarly the Master and his bridge team are not experts on the harbour, river or anchorage and may not be aware that a buoy is out of position or familiar with local currents.
To ensure they have similar expectations of the passage ahead and with no surprises occurring, the pilot and Master must share all the information they have in a formal master-pilot exchange. The onus is on the vessel to achieve this harmonization.
Case study Pilotage
Loss prevention poster Master pilot exchange