Baltic-bred newcomer delivers speed, efficiency in Port Everglades

Pilot 1

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a port city that is no stranger to fast, sleek, high-tech vessels, has a new one turning heads as Pilot No. 7 slices the waterway connecting Port Everglades with the ship anchorage.

Capt. Carl Mahler headed the new acquisition for the Port Everglades Pilots Association. “The main advantages of the new boat over the older ones is the fuel economy in a larger, faster boat,” he said. “We sometimes do eight cruise ships in a two-hour span. We have to do them quickly and safely. This boat can do the work of two, with fewer man-hours and maintenance costs.”

The 50-foot, 1,200-hp, self-righting speedster cuts through waves at 30-plus knots, the boat’s maneuverability enhanced by oversized offset tear-shaped rudders and Humphree Interceptor trim tabs. The trim tabs automatically coordinate the turns, and the configuration improves the ride comfort.

Each of the two 600-hp Volvo Penta mains has a pair of alternators powering inverters that transform DC current to 120 and 240 AC current. “There is no need for an auxiliary generator, resulting in less overall maintenance, and it negates the additional noise and vibrations another engine would create,” Mahler said.

The newbuild for the Port Everglades Pilots Association was designed and constructed by Baltic Workboats US, which is breaking into the North American market. The boat features a Baltic-designed wave-piercing hull and Humphree Interceptor trim tabs.

By isolating the hull with two dovetailed strips of foam developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, comfort is increased for those aboard and fatigue is reduced. The noise level in the cabin is 57 decibels at idle and 66 decibels wide open.

The wave-piercing bow reduces pitching, improving the stability and speed of the vessel. “In rough seas, instead of slowing down you find yourself accelerating without compromising the comfort of the ride,” said Sasa Bratic, chief operating officer for Baltic Workboats US, the Estonian company that designed and built Pilot No. 7. “A rough day at sea suddenly becomes not so bad.”

Bratic said the boat’s speed, maneuverability and comfort are the result of years of research and development on the deep-V hull design by the naval architects at Baltic Workboats, which is building a U.S. facility in Tampa, Fla.

The boat operator is tucked into leather comfort in a NorSap seat that has built-in rudder and engine controls, an ECDIS mouse and buttons for the radios, horn and wipers. The three Grammer passenger seats, with a seemingly endless number of adjustments, essentially float the pilots on an air suspension system. There is also a bench seat with a table.

Simrad supplied most of the electronics and navigation gear, most of it touch-screen. The built-in 4G broadband connection allows the boat’s sensor data and CCTV system to be accessed remotely. The alarm system notifies Mahler via email and text message if there is a major problem. “I can immediately troubleshoot by logging into the boat from my cellphone,” he said.


Capt. Sam Stephenson, president of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association, disembarks the containership Dole Honduras onto Pilot No. 7.


Capt. Carl Mahler, a Port Everglades pilot and the association’s representative on the newbuild project, deploys the boat’s rescue dive platform from the stern control console.


Senior boat captain Noah Henschel mans the helm of Pilot No. 7. “It makes my life so much easier to handle,” he says, summing up the vessel’s comfort and advanced systems.


Propulsion is provided by a pair of Volvo Penta D13-MH 600-hp main engines with ZF 500 gears.

Pilot No. 7 specifications

Owner/operator: Port Everglades Pilots Association, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Designer/builder: Baltic Workboats, Nasva Harbor, Estonia, and Tampa, Fla.
Dimensions: L: 50’ W: 14’ D: 4’7”Crew size: One to six (crew and passengers)

• (2) Volvo Penta D13-MH 600-hp main engines
• ZF 500 gears with 1.966:1 ratio

• Simrad GPS, radar and sensors
• Transas Navi-Sailor 4000 ECDIS system with dual 24-inch displays
• Garmin Panoptix echosounder
• SAILOR radios

• Grammer MSG 85/72 occupant seats
• NorSap 1500 boat operator seat
• Colorlight CLite2 searchlights

Click here for more information on the new pilot boat.

By Professional Mariner Staff