Image of the Port Phillip Pilot Boat in a 40 foot swell as it heads out through ‘The Rip’ in to Bass Strait from Port Phillip Bay, Point Lonsdale, Victoria Australia. ‘The Rip’ is one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.
The Port Phillip Sea Pilots are one of Victoria’s oldest organisations. George Tobin started piloting in the year 1838 and was granted the first licence by Govenor Gipps of New South Wales on 26th June 1839.
Eleven Pilots were operating privately on a cooperative basis when the gold rush started at about the time Victoria was granted independence from New South Wales. Soon after the Government provided the Pilot Ship “Boomerang” and the Pilots became Government employees.
In 1854 the Pilot Service operated as a cooperative service until 1989.
Since 1979, fast motor launches have provided the pilots with facilities for boarding ships. 30 former Ships Masters now operate the service as a private company under a licence granted by the Maratime Board of Victoria in 1989.