Pilot Boats

The sea routes from Anglesey to Liverpool have been, and still are very important for the British economy. The journey from Anglesey to Liverpool docks is one of fast tides and shifting sandbanks.
For many years merchant shipping from all over the world have picked up experienced Ship captains called Pilots from Amlwch to lead the ships on the last part of the journey to Liverpool.
Pilot boats have worked out of Amlwch from the 18th century. At this time they where 6 oared rowing vessels. The vessels were owned by the pilots themselves who often over charged for their services or did not go out to sea when the weather was rough.

In 1769 these privateers were outlawed in an act of parliament and the Liverpool Pilot service was started. This service built a pilot station near Point Lynas which was sheltered from the prevailing winds.

The following arrangements, which came into force on the 1 st October 1781.

Pilots will be stationed at the Point of Linas, the N.E. point of the Island of Anglesea, and the N.W. point of Beaumaris Bay, lying about five leagues to the eastward of Skerries Lighthouse, and may be easily distinguished by being a high, bold, steep point, projecting into the sea from Pilots’ Harbour, on the west side above 600 yards and all Beaumaris Bay open to the cast.

A house painted white is built on the Point for the pilots, with a flagstaff and colours to hoist occasionally by day, and two small reflecting lamp lights lighted in the upper windows by night, one facing N.W. and other East, also two mooring buoys in the Bay on each side of the Point, for the pilots’ sailing boats to ride.

Opposite the house on the cast side in Pilot’s bay, a slip is made from high to low water mark, with a grab to heave up and launch occasionally, a six oar’d boat to board ships.

All ships wanting pilots for Liverpool or the adjacent ports, may steer boldly for this Point, hoist their colours by day and show lights or fire guns by night, run close inshore and bring to, either in Williams’ or Pilots’ Bay, within the race of the strong tides off the Point, according to the winds, that they may be boarded in smooth water, with the greater safety both to them- selves and pilots, either with their sailing or rowing boats, stationed on both sides of the Point. The shore there is steep, and good anchorage may be found when the wind is off shore.

That the Committee’s hopes, relative to the development of Pilots’ Harbour were realized, seems certain, for at the end of the year 1784, in reply to a communication from the Right Honorable Lord Bulkeley, offering to re-open negotiations for the use of Priestholm Island for the pilots, they stated that the improvements made at the Point of Lynas answered every purpose which Priestholm Island was intended to serve.

For twenty years before there was any authorized pilotage, it was the custom for pilot boats to lie in Amlwch Harbour, waiting to board vessels when they approached, and the practice was to some extent, but for another reason, indulged in after a regularized system of pilotage was inaugurated. The pilot boat cruising in the vicinity of Point Lynas, preparatory to taking the boarding station, when the boat on turn immediately preceding her had boarded all her pilots, was at times beached in Amlwch, when wind, tide and other circumstances permitted, which action afforded the crew a rest, from what would otherwise have been constant vigilance and activity manoeuvring the boat in the open sea.

But what was a relief to the pilots, proved to be an annoyance to a certain cleric residing there, who regarded the presence of pilot boats in the Harbour as a trespass, and wrote informing the Pilot Committee that the pilot boats were being moored above high water mark, and requested that he should be paid the sum of half-a-guinea per annum, as compensation.

The Committee, in a facetious frame of mind replied that, although they were conversant in maritime affairs, they were at a loss to understand how boats of a great draught of water, could be run up above high water mark. And with regard to his claim for recompense, it would be necessary for him to produce evidence that he was entitled to collect tonnage rates from vessels using Amlwch Creek, which they very much doubted he would be able to do, adding, that had the Harbour been one from which the pilot boats could get to sea with northerly winds, steps would have been taken when the Liverpool Pilotage Act of 1766 was under consideration, to empower the committee to develop the Harbour so that the pilot boats could remain afloat at low water.
The sailing ships eventually gave way to steam ships and now modern diesel powered craft do the same job.