There be pilots everywhere

Last week, the New York Times ran a story about harbor pilots in San Francisco. As it turns out, there are only 57 such pilots qualified to do that job.

Until I read that article, I did not know they existed. Until just now — as you are reading this — you probably didn’t know either. Congratulations if you did.

San Francisco Bar Pilots have been guiding large vessels from the Pacific in and out of the harbors since the Gold Rush in the mid 1800s. They know every sandbar, shoal and current on any given day and season of each harbor. They are what large shipping vessel captains place their unquestioning trust in to get them safely from the open sea, into the harbor and back out to sea.

A pilot makes an average salary of $451,336. Some say they are doing it only for the money.

I think there is something greater here that drives someone to want to be a harbor pilot. Someone who is that motivated by money can probably make just as much or more working on Wall Street and not take on the liability and stress of guiding a multi-billion dollar vessel through such danger, working in an office exposed to crappy weather.

Every industry has its pilots. Seek them out. Trust them to pilot the waters you choose to navigate. And give them respect; they’re not doing it just for the money.