I was most interested in the November 2015 issue of Sea Breezes with the article by Alan Blackwood entitled ‘At the Pilot Station’.
In the article there was mention of the pilot vessel Wyuna belonging to the Port Phillip Sea Pilots Service. I served on the Wyuna as Radio Officer soon after her arrival in Melbourne from the builders. She took over from the two aging pilot vessels; Victoria of 1902 and Akuna of 1912. The latter was the German Governor’s steam yacht, Komet, operating in what was then German New Guinea and captured by the RAN in 1914.
The Port Phillip Sea Pilot Vessels were the only vessels in Australia which carried Radio Officers (the days before VHF etc and Aldis Lamps were the thing). R/Os were chosen from Melbourne Homeporters as required, for between six to eight weeks service without a break from watch keeping or a break ashore. We handled ETAs from inbound ships 24 hours and two hours before their arrivals and whether Pratique had been granted, also outward bound traffic with departure times from their berths and ETAs outside the Port Phillip Heads to take the Pilot off.
I served on all three vessels in periods from 1948 to Wyuna in 1953 when ships looked like ships and were a pleasure to see coming in or out of Port Phillip Heads. Now just pleasant memories. I served as an R/O for 43 years 1948 to 1991; those were the good old days at sea.
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