A pilot is an essential part of the maritime scene but probably for most people an essential part they are totally unaware of. Pilot's are highly skilled people, usually ex ships captains, with a deep knowledge of the local ports navigation situation where they are working.
All ships, apart from ones exempted for various reasons, are required to have a pilot on board when entering or leaving a port. To get these pilot's on board the ships specially designed vessels are used, or in some cases helicopters. These pilot boats come in various shapes and sizes but generally they have a high speed and an uncluttered deck with lots of handrails.
It can be a very dangerous job transferring the pilot and requires great skill on the pilot boat skipper, many pilots have been lost overboard during the transfer process so great care is required.
The pictures below show some of the various types of pilot boats in use in different countries.