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Feature Pilot: Captain Peter Vivian

B.C. Coast Pilots continue to work 24/7 during the Covid-19 pandemic keeping 15,000 miles of the province’s coastline safe while maintaining the global supply chain moving. We want to highlight the work done by these devoted Pilots and shine a light on the people behind the safe movement of ships on our coast. Our pilots have a deep background in the marine transportation industry and work hard to ensure our coast remains safe for everyone to enjoy.

Meet Captain Peter Vivian! He grew up in the small town of Cedar By-The-Sea, South of Nanaimo, with his family, and now resides in Victoria BC. As a child, Peter was always excited about boats and would often go fishing with his dad. He began taking his father’s boat out Island, exploring, camping, and fishing by the age of 13. At the age of 16, his dad introduced him to the idea of becoming a marine pilot. Later, his father contacted the Victoria Pilot station and took Captain Vivian to see a bit of what it was about to be a coast pilot.

In 1970 at the age of 18, Captain Vivian enrolled in the Cadet training program at George Brown College in Toronto, which was the closest sea training program that would take students fresh out of high school.

He served for six months as Cadet on the tanker on the East Coast. Once he had accrued the required Sea time at Imperial Oil on the West Coast, he joined the Marine training school in Vancouver. He acquired his Home Trade Mates certificate in 1974 immediately after that. He began working as the second mate for Imperial Oil and continued with them until he had the qualifications to attempt the B.C. Coast Pilots exams in 1986.

Captain Vivian started his apprenticeship with BCCP in 1986 and became a licensed B.C. Coast Pilot in 1987. He admits his favorite part of being a marine pilot is the challenge of handling a variety of vessels, particularly in the circumstances requiring excellent skills and critical thinking. Significant traffic congestion and a challenging assignment are where one forgets time and concentrates on the job at hand until successful completion. The pleasure of observing in the distance a massive pod of Humpback whales with the brilliant afternoon sun backlighting their spouts is a perk that comes with being a marine pilot.

Captain Vivian describes a tough day as a BC Coast Pilot where he leaves his home at 2000 hours (8:00 pm) and then spends a long grinding night on a slow ship with a cold bridge, docking in pouring rain and wind, slow tie-up with complications of inadequate shipboard equipment, and then some issues ashore.  He arrives at the air terminal for his flight home and finds his flight canceled due to inclement weather.  After numerous changes in the travel plans, he finally gets home at noon, exhausted. Fortunately, this does not occur too often, he added.

Something Captain Vivian hopes people would know more about when it comes to pilots is that it takes a wealth of experience and practice to safely take a large vessel into ports, dealing with current, weather, and various traffic conditions. Pilots take ships with over 4,000 people on board through Seymour Narrows and Johnstone Straits in the night, where the pilot must be on full alert with no margin for error. What is somewhat understated is the commitment it takes to go out at all hours of the day and night in all-weather to get on with the job. The work is rewarding in many ways, but that reward is hard-earned.

When not on assignments, you will find Captain Vivian sailing, kayaking, cycling, skiing, pleasure boating, or gardening.

Captain Vivian on a day off.

We are lucky to have dedicated mariners like Captain Vivian working hard to protect our coast and keep the supply chain of Canada moving! For more BCCP updates, follow us on Twitter here and Facebook here.