I returned to my duties as a Pilot, and by and large I enjoyed it, particularly the large ships which always presented a challenge. I never relished the Liberty type ships as they were heavy on the helm and built for one purpose - to carry as much cargo as possible.
Probably the best were the Clan Line vessels, real class and good handling ships.
Twelve hour trips were not uncommon and at busy times it wasn't unusual to jump off one ship and climb straight aboard another.
In the early years, before we acquired a car, I had to rely on public transport. On many occasions I had left home, got a bus to Manchester to join a ship, piloted the ship down the canal and out into the Mersey. There I would get picked up by a pilot boat and get dropped off in Anglesey where I would get a bus to Bangor, a train to Liverpool, another train to warrington and a bus home to Woolston ... then I'd think about making time for boat building.
A question I have been asked more than once is “Why is it necessary to employ a Pilot, when it is obvious where a ship has to go - between the banks of the Canal?” To answer that, I can only use an analogy. Divide everything by 50 (i.e. the ship’s length, beam
draught and canal’s width and depth. The measurements work out to 10 x 1.2 x .5 for the ship and 3 x .56 for the Canal (or it did before silting up occurred). All the measurements are feet and decimal parts of feet. Imagine this to be a piece of timber capable of being steered, fasten steel plates to the back, place a row of magnets along the side of a water filled trench and try and keep it in the centre whilst pushing it along. Too much to one side and the magnets take over pulling the back end towards them and the front end runs into the opposite side. In a ship this is referred to as a sheer, almost impossible to correct , depending on the size and draught of the vessel. Multiply all the measurements by 50 and replace the magnets with water moving back to fill the hole that a vessel leaves behind her, caused by the displacement (in the case of a large loaded ship some 18,000 tons it’s a lot of water) and there you have a craft moving along the Canal.
In 1960 I was appointed as Company Pilot to a Norwegian shipping firm, who ran two ships between Manchester and Venezuela carrying crude oil for the refineries. At 550 feet long and 26.5 draught the Husvik and the Kindvik (pictured right) were heavy and I kept them going in all weathers, night and day, but I enjoyed the company of the many friends I made aboard.
The average trip up the Canal in one of the ships was 12 hours, so I was never pleased when I had to board one at midnight, especially on a cold and rainy winter night! They ceased running about 1973, but in 1970 I had commenced building my dream boat, a 40ft ferro-cement yacht.