Farewell to pilot Rapier




Pilot Julian Rapier, Jules to those who knew him well, was a past master in the ancient but arcane world of maritime pilotage. A Ship Handler extraordinaire of the old school who thrived in difficult situations where lesser men would shudder. His nerve, calm skill, and nonchalant attitude under pressure on the bridge reassured and earned the respect of countless nervous captains. Countless indeed were the number of years he practiced his profession in the ports of the State of Grenada. He was the epitome of trustworthiness personified to quote Joseph Conrad.

His dry humour was well known and his casual manner made him very approachable and likable. A maxim of his which I often quote “If you can’t do good, do nothing” will remain indelible in my mind. To his apprentices and pilot boat crew the informal “Come ah we go” command when he arrives at the pilot boat berth will be remembered.

Jules will be missed but the mark he made will continue on through the skills he passed on to all the pilots in Grenada. I do not think that any pilot who had the good fortune to be his apprentice has not aspired to imitate his ship handling techniques. The love for his profession is without doubt the reason why he persisted at it well beyond the time when most would have retired. He was very proud of his ability to con his ships with the use of languages other than that of the realm. His Spanish, Greek and Russian orders to bridge teams of those nationalities, helped greatly to put captains at ease thereby facilitating seamless bridge team management. His extensive repertoire of jokes is usually served to the bridge officers as a digestif after an excellent meal.

Pilots in Grenada have had no choice but to benefit from the reality of maneuvering ships without the luxury of tug assistance. He made us dependent on nothing but raw ship handling prowess developed over years of repetitive work. When asked if a tug was needed, Jules would reply with the unpretentious declaration “If we have it we use it, but we don’t need it”. No doubt he never needed one.

Jules, you will be missed. The Grenada Pilots, the Marine Department and members of the Grenada Ports Authority who have had the benefit of your knowledge and friendship, congratulate you on your successful voyage and pray that your onward journey would have none but fair winds and following seas.

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The Grenada Ports Authority is principally responsible for the administration and operation of the Port of St. George's. It also has jurisdiction over Prickly Bay, St. David's Harbour and Grenville, on the main island of Grenada, as well Tyrrel Bay, on the neighbouring island of Carriacou.