Uninformed Comment

You’re going where?

Posted in Humour, Internet, Technology by uninformedcomment on August 28, 2009

This is a big “hello” to the stalwart men, or possibly women, of the Pilot Vessel Saturn, currently out in the estuary of the River Humber, bound for … well, I’m jealous.  It’s going somewhere nice and warm, although somewhat wetter than the local climate.

How do I know all this from the comfort of my living room?  Step forward please, the handy Live Ships Map, brought to us by the generous Department of Product & Systems Design Engineering – University of the Aegean (linked page in Greek).  This marvellous web tool allows us armchair mariners to track individual vessels live, anywhere in the world, though a Google Maps interface.  Here’s what it looks like:


The large, darker blue ship near the centre of that image is the Dutch-registered passenger ferry Pride of Bruges, headed for Zeebrugge.  I was idly watching her progress, wondering how long it would be before I can myself step aboard a ship again and head for more interesting places, when a smaller vessel – the pale blue icon off Spurn Point on the lower right – caught my eye.

That icon represents the Humber Pilot Vessel PV Saturn, a 16m pilot cutter.  For those that don’t know, the job of a pilot is to keep abreast of changes in the river, noting movements of sandbanks, currents, and so on, and to board ships entering or leaving the estuary, guiding them safely.  It’s a very skilled job, although one in which you would normally stay within the confines of the estuary.


Pilot Vessel Saturn

Yet, as I say, this one (according to the Live Ships Map) had an unusually warm and wonderful destination.  One that I haven’t visited for too long now.

Its destination is shown by clicking on the vessel, which brings up its details, obtained from AIS (Automatic Identification System) data.

The relevant part is highlighted in yellow here:


Many thanks to whoever is responsible for this.  Have a pleasant journey, and don’t forget to explore while you’re there.

UPDATE: Many thanks to correspondent Peter Ward for discovering another Humber pilot vessel with an unusual destination: the PV Venus, shown here off Spurn Head, the Saturn also visible (and with an unchanged destination) a little further south:


I wonder if this particular sailor was excited as he packed his bag.  Certainly, at nearly 24kts, he’s not exactly hanging about.

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