MSRC instructs Mexican mariners about portable pilot units

(QUEBEC CITY) — The Maritime Simulation Resource Centre (MSRC) recently gave a presentation on portable pilot units (PPUs) to the directors of all the Mexican pilots associations. The daylong workshop was given at the request of Capt. Mario Alejandro Camacho Vidal, secretary-general of the Sindicato Nacional de Pilotos de Puerto.

Thirty marine pilots from across Mexico received detailed information on how PPUs operate and what hardware and software options are currently available so they can make informed decisions on the application of PPUs at their local pilotage regions.

The presentation was given by MSRC’s Capt. Bernard Cayer, a Class A pilot with over 40 years of sea experience, who has an extensive background using PPUs and SEAiq pilot software (a system he helped improve for use on the St. Lawrence).

Portable pilot units (PPUs) are mobile devices (laptop or tablet) that can “plug in” to a ship’s navigation system and are used for navigation, information and decision making.

A PPU carries its own local real-time data by bringing together information from paper media such as harbor sounding plans, tide data, and electronic data such as image files, that is then combined with learned and memorized information residing in the pilot’s head; for example, clearing distances and routes.

A PPU can show data which might otherwise need to be computed by the pilot; meeting or overtaking points with other traffic, ETAs at various points along the route or destination, and tide height, etc. It shows that information with respect to own-ship position, greatly enhancing the pilot's comprehension of the situation surrounding him.

“Situational awareness is key,” said Cayer. “By downloading the most up-to-date local soundings onto the PPU, the pilot can access the latest shoal information that appears right in the channel where it is with the shoal depth. It's a lot more convenient than listening to a Notice to Shipping broadcast over the VHF. We are finding that more and more pilots are recognizing the importance of this equipment.”

For more information about the Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre, visit

By Professional Mariner Staff