Scilly’s Pilotage District Could Be Changed

sea and rocksThe areas around Scilly where large ships need to have a pilot on board could change in the future.

It’s being proposed by the St Mary’s Harbour Navigational Advisory Council, which looks at the safe navigation of shipping around the islands.

The group is made up of Harbour staff, Dale Clark and Alan Hartwell, Scilly’s pilots Jeremy Phillips and Steve Hicks, and pilotage examiner John Nicholls.

Dale says the current pilotage district, where by law all ships over 30m need a pilot on board, extends in a five-mile radius from the southern tip of Samson.

But he says that simple definition means there are some relatively safe areas included in the zone, while more dangerous areas are very close to the limit.

Dale says a good example of this was the Defra survey ship, the Cefas Endeavour, which had to have pilots on-board for 24 hours recently, even though it was operating several miles off the shore in safe waters.

With the islands receiving visits from around 45 cruise ships next year, as well as landing craft involved in building projects, Dale says the number of vessels requiring a pilot is significant.

The group thinks a better definition would be a limit one-mile outside the 50m contour of the islands. That would reduce areas to the southeast of St Mary’s while extending the zone to the southwest and northeast.

Dale says it would give better coverage of dangerous areas like Bishop Rock and the Eastern Isles.

The original limits were drawn up in the 1980’s and Dale says ships now have sophisticated navigational equipment that would allow them to accurately know where they are in the pilotage district.

But Dale stressed that this is still at a very early stage and any changes would have to go through lengthy public consultation and review by the government.