Compmillennia builds outboard catamaran pilot boat

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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The first-ever outboard catamaran pilot boat built in the United States, designed and constructed by Washington boat builder Compmillennia, will soon go into service in Miami, the largest cruise ship port in the world. At 41-feet long, with twin 300-horsepower outboard engines, the new boat will ferry professional pilots back and forth between large cargo vessels and cruise ships.

“These ocean-going vessels are really wide, so each port has a pilot association,” Compmillennia Manager Jim Gardiner explained. “This isn’t a government, but a private association of master seamen, the pilots. In Miami, which is the largest cruise ship port in the world, these 1,000-foot-long cruise ships will come in, and in order to get on the ship before it comes into port, pilots have to have a boat to transport them out to the ship.”

When bringing a large vessel, such as a freighter or cruise ship, into port, the process can be fraught with peril. Both manmade and natural hazards, such as shoals, strong currents and winds, can prove dangerous to large ships coming to port, especially when captains are unfamiliar with those particular waters. That’s where pilots come into the picture, safely guiding the large ships to safe harbor.

“They go out 24-hours a day, seven days a week, no matter what the sea conditions,” Gardiner said. “The boat driver will take a pilot, or sometimes four or five if they have a bunch of ships waiting, and put a pilot on each of those ships. While the boat is moving about 10 knots through the water, the pilot boat comes up alongside the ship, the ship puts a ladder down the side of the boat, and the guy climbs up the side of the boat, up to the bridge.”

Purchased by the Biscayne Bay Pilots association, the Compmillennia catamaran will become part of a 120-year-old tradition of piloting in Miami. In addition to this project, Compmillennia also produces high-quality sport fishing boats, military vessels and tackles other advance projects using composite materials. For more information, visit