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Champagne explosion as new boat joins the fleet

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A bottle of champagne was smacked across her bow and a brief blessing was given at a ceremony to officially welcome

St David to Bermuda’s fleet of pilot boats yesterday.

Current and former pilots and Government officials turned out to see the 61-foot vessel christened with a bottle of champagne at Penno’s Wharf.

The pilot boat, which replaces a smaller vessel of the same name, is the largest on the Island today.

“Everyone knows about Jemmy Darrell, ‘War Baby’ Fox and other famous pilots many of whom came from the east end and St David’s in particular,’ said Transport Minister Derrick Burgess.

“The tools of a pilot’s trade have changed significantly during the past few hundred years. In the early days, pilots were rowed out to ships and risked being injured or drowned trying to scramble on board to guide ships into port. By the 1950s we at least had engines, but the coxswain had to ring a bell to tell the engine room [whether to go] forward, neutral or reverse. Flags were used for communications between the pilot boats and ships. And of course, every pilot was based in St David’s.”

The boat was delivered to Bermuda from the Gladding-Hearn Shipyard in Somerset, Massachusetts. According to Mr Burgess, the vessel is equipped with the latest navigation and communication equipment.

Mr Brugess added: “The

St David will also be a front-line resource in local offshore search and rescue operations. Indeed, one of the first operations for the

St David was to assist in the search and recovery of the two fishermen tragically lost off St David’s Head in January. This vessel will undoubtedly help protect the lives of local seafarers as well as the ships that ply our treacherous waters.

“I am immensely proud to be here today with such a distinguished group of Bermudian pilots who have spent countless hours on the ocean on calm, sunny days and in wicked winter gales. We are proud of this beautiful new vessel, may she perform to the best of her capabilities and may many good future fortunes smile on her and all those who sail her.”

Pilot Warden Rudolph Cann also spoke of the superior boat speed of the

St David and her ability to travel greater distances.

“It will give us a quicker response to offshore search and rescue operations,” he said. “The vessel will have capabilities of going offshore 150 nautical miles and returning on its own 1,100 gallons of fuel capacity.

“With its superior hull design and state-of-the-art navigation system our offshore capabilities can be accomplished in half the time compared to previous pilot boats. What would normally take ten hours to travel 150 miles can now be accomplished in just five hours. I’m confident that the

St David will serve the Bermuda Government and the people of Bermuda well.”

The boat was blessed by Rev David Raths, who praised the pilots for their dedication to their jobs: “I’m very impressed by their knowledge, their skill, their experience, their self-confidence and I think they must have a lot of nerve to do what they do.”

Smash: A bottle of champagne smashes over the bow of the pilot boat St David during her christening at Penno?s Wharf in St George?s.
Ready to serve: The pilot boat St David takes a cruise around St George?s Harbour during her christening at Penno?s Wharf in St George?s yesterday.
The team: Former pilots Harold Millett, David Darrell and Keith Battersbee stand with current pilots on the deck of the new pilot boat St David.
Transport Minister Derrick Burgess disembarks from the pilot boat St David after taking a ride around St George?s Harbour during her christening at Penno?s Wharf yesterday.

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Published February 23, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 23, 2012 at 8:29 am)

Champagne explosion as new boat joins the fleet

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