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Old 01-29-2008, 11:48 AM
Fred Carmichael Fred Carmichael is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 130
Default No It don't

Under the heading, Pilot'in comes natural. I'm here to tell you, IT Don't. At least not to some of us. There are only 2 things I have ever really wanted to do in my life. The first one I have know since I could remember. This dream is to be a Race Car Driver, and get paid for it. Until my mid 20's I never found anything else that had interested me or held my attention except that one thing.
Whlie working as an Assist. Electrican on the M. Q., I got to spending evenings in the wheel house. There was a control box for the elevator out behind the wheel house. On hot evenings the elevator would trip on overload, often. I found it easier to just sit in the wheel house and take calls instead of running upstairs every time the elevator tripped. Besides, the company was of a type to be found no where else on earth.
One night the Pilot, who I'd known since my first day steamboat'n, Capt. Ted Davission, asked if I'd ever steered the boat and did I want too? My life has never been the same since I was infected with "Pilot Fever". I left the known and comfortable world of steam, grease, noise, and heat to start my trip to the wheel house.
I have never liked to paint, clean only when needed, could bearly tie my shoes, let alone tie off a boat and would later on learn that "ratchets", wires and slings, and I were not going to have a cooperative relationship.
I got a 'pass" and was able to count some of my engine room time towards a mates license. I know some still "brissel" about that turn of events. I left the steamboats when they cancelled a planned Steersmans program. Went to work on tow boats and finally made it into a steering program. When I got my licenses, someone forgot to fill in the "skill" section on mine. Most others got it.
I did the majority of my steering under Capt. Phillip Box at Scott Chotin, Inc. Please give the man his due respect for this feat. Capt. Box had been steering since he was 14 and standing his own watch at 16. An impossiblity today. Capt. Box told me once, "Fred, you want this bad enough, if you don't tear up too much equipment before you get good, you should be o. k. But you just don't have the "Ass" for this". He then explained to me that there were "natural pilots' who could become one with the boat and had a feel for it. There were others who had to rely on any and all support, swing meters, radar, swing lights, spot lights, etc. and with time became respectible pilots.
Needless to say the,"if you don't tear up too much equipment" part of Capt. Box's statement got me before I got "good". The failure to be considered or consider myself a good river pilot has, and most likely will always be a sense of failure to me. Anyone who thinks there reallys nothing to being a pilot, hell just point the damn thing in the right direction, I suggest you take it from one who tried to be there, it's an art form. Natural to some, years of school'en for others, not for everyone.
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