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from super yachts this year where we built relationships and gained contacts for super yacht trade magazines and shows where we can market the port. Of course, the skippers and crews all talk to each other so word of mouth plays a big part too. ‘While the weather is good in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, it can get a bit crowded and people are looking for alternative places to visit including trips to Scandinavia. We are on the way there from the Med, so why not come and visit us on the way. We are quite well placed strategically and we need to get our name out there and get a better infrastructure in place.’ Once the cruise liners have booked their mooring spot on the picturesque river, they have to navigate their way to it on the day of arrival. The River Dart is a compulsory pilotage district which means any vessel over 50metres in length has to accept a pilot aboard. There are four licensed pilots available to the harbour – the previous harbourmaster Captain David White, who remains the port’s senior pilot, and Rob who recently gained his pilot licence. Two pilots from Fowey in Cornwall are also available. Rob said: ‘I got my pilotage licence last November. It involved quite a lot of training with the incumbent pilot but I already have the master mariner equivalent so it was then a question of river familiarisation and familiarisation with different types of vessel and how they react in Dartmouth harbour. ‘My licence extends to 80metres only, so I do the small ones. They are the ones that give us less notice so it’s better I’m on hand to do it. It’s a different way of seeing the river and it’s enjoyable. You remain fairly focused and quickly establish a relationship with the master and the crew of the vessel – good communication is key to good pilotage. ‘It depends on the programme of the vessel as to when pilotage is conducted but there are tidal issues too for most passages. It looks very easy from the shore but actually a lot of planning and thought has gone into bringing any large vessel into the river. The long ships can take three-quarters of an hour to navigate the river as they have to turn around at Sandquay, but normally it takes about half an hour depending on individual ships. Then there is the paperwork which takes about an-hour-and-a-half. ‘As well as environmental conditions and programmes, there is the harbour management aspect as well as to where they go and whether we have to change the mooring configurations, which nine times out of 10 we do. The line handling is done by the river officers. ‘Some can take one email and some can take a couple of days of discussion just to get it right. That’s


The super yachts like the fact they can moor in the middle of the river where they can be seen, with their own moat around them


all going on while we are doing our normal day’s business out on the river.’ Rob said the main reason the harbour authority wants to attract more cruise liners and super yachts to the port is to help boost the town’s economy. ‘Cruise liners particularly spend money in the port, they generally collect souvenirs from most of the places they like and my assumption is they like Dartmouth because of repeat business.’ Super yachts benefit domestic retailers like chandlers, the butchers and the


vintners, Rob said, as they like to resupply in the town. ‘The liners are also crowd pullers. If we have a large one coming in with a large profile and we have advertised it well, people will be lining the quay to watch it arrive. They come from all around.’ •


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