Another Delaware pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn

You know you are doing something right when a customer comes back for more. That certainly describes the relationship between Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Somerset, Mass., and the Delaware pilot’s association, officially known as the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware. 

The pilots have returned to Gladding-Hearn nine times since 1957 when they took delivery of the first pilot boat from the Massachusetts yard. 

The most recent pilot boat is the aluminum 52’6”×17’×4’8” Lewes. It’s a Ray Hunt deep-V design that Gladding-Hearn calls its Chesapeake class pilot boat. It’s a near sistership to the Brandywine that was built for the Lewes, Del.-based pilots two years ago. 

The Delaware pilots aren’t the only group that has returned to Somerset for more than one of these Ray Hunt designs. The Maryland pilots have a pair, as do the pilots in Boston. Pilot groups in Virginia, Portland, Maine, and Boston have one each. 

The Lewes will normally make a five- to six-mile run to reach an incoming boat, said Peter Duclos, president of Gladding-Hearn. “Though for high-risk ships, she might have to go out 20 miles,” he said. 

The power to get her there at a top speed of 26 knots comes from a pair of Daewoo V180TIM 10-cylinder diesels, each putting out 640 hp at 2,100 rpm. Bolted to the back of the engines are ZF 350A marine gears, which turn 5-bladed Hall & Stavert bronze props on the end of 3” shafts. 

Accommodations are sparse with no cooking or sleeping facilities, though there are five Stidd reclining seats in the wheelhouse and a settee.

To reduce the chance of a pilot slipping on an icy foredeck and going in the water, the foredeck is heated, as are the handrails. 

In case a pilot does go in the water, the transom is cut out with stairs leading down to the water, making it easy to climb out. There’s also a line with a loop in it that a pilot can grab and be hoisted aboard with a davit. At the stern davit there are also controls to operate the boat. 

Duclos said there are two significant differences between the 52’6” Lewes and the Brandywine. The Brandywine, with the same power package, didn’t have a keel cooler because “Daewoo hadn’t released the engine for a keel cooler, though we tried to get it approved for that application,” Duclos said. 

The Lewes does have a keel cooler, which is good when it’s operating in ice, Duclos said. And he thinks the keel cooler will help the engines generate more heat. A lack of cabin heat generated from the engines was a problem in the first boat, because the engines run so cool. 

As a result, a furnace was installed in the first boat. In the Lewes, even with the keel cooler, the pilots aren’t depending on engine-generated heat for warmth. The boat comes with a diesel-fired Espar Hydronic heating system for the cabin, deck and handrails. 

The Lewes was scheduled to be delivered in early April.  

  — Michael Crowley 


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