San Diego Harbor Pilot Boat


Nearly A Century As San Diego Harbor’s Main Pilot Craft.

1914 Pilot Boat

From her launching in 1914 to her removal from regular service in 1996, the Pilot enjoyed an active career as San Diego’s chief pilot craft – assisting almost every one of the thousands of major commercial ships to enter or leave the bay during that time. Pilot was built in San Diego at a small local yard and in the years since served exclusively on the waters of San Diego Bay and its approaches. Generations of San Diego harbor pilots steamed Pilot out to sea in all conditions of weather to meet the incoming merchantmen which, in turn, provided the flow of cargoes and passengers to support the development of a rising urban seaport.

The years since 1914 constitute virtually the entire rise of San Diego as a world center for maritime enterprise and concur precisely with the career of this vessel. San Diego possesses very few artifacts that link to the maritime past of even the early years in this century. Pilot is not only one of the few such items remaining, but arguably the most significant and evocative. No other single artifact in existence can be linked so directly to the economic rise of the region and the diverse culture supported by its economy.

  • The boat yard of Manuel Goularte, where Pilot was built in 1914, is only a couple of blocks from the museum on Atlantic Avenue (now Harbor Drive) at the foot of Hawthorne Street.
  • Pilot was built strong enough “…to slam into every ship that comes in here for one purpose – to either put a pilot on or off,”  Captain Ed Silva
  • Pilot was taken into military command during World War II, serving as a patrol boat and continuing to carry civilian pilots out to ships. To acknowledge the small boat’s role in duty to her country in, the Secretary of War authorized the display of six chevrons on her stack, one for every six months of service.
  • Pilot is the oldest active pilot boat in the country. She remains available to the Port pilots for special occasions, when they use her to help bring other historic vessels into the Bay.
  • In addition to public day cruises, Pilot now hosts school groups on “Economy and Ecology” voyages, where students help with navigation and perform water quality experiments while exploring the Bay.
LOA 52’
Gross Tonage 19
Engine diesel, 6 cylinder
Cruising Speed 8-10 knots

Available most days

Enjoy a unique 45 minute Historic Bay Cruise aboard the 1914 Pilot.

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