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Obituary – George Havens

GEORGE WALTER HAVENS

George was born in Portishead, 26th September 1923 and attended Bristol South Central School from 1934-1938. Georges grandfather and father were seafarers in the world of tugs, however George first went to sea at the age of 14 as a Deck Boy on the Camito (Fyffes Bananas) 25th April 1938.

7th December 1938 George commenced his probation period to a Bristol Channel Pilot, on completion signed indentures for a 5 year Apprenticeship, completed on 9th March 1944. George joined the Pilot cutter Queen Mother, she had been bought by the pilots to replace the sailing cutters. She was an ex steam trawler with a long history of her own, a different story not for these memories, except to say that the Pilots and Apprentices became very close, friendships for life were formed, each apprentice could relate a personal story, George was no exception.

Upon completing his apprenticeship, George joined the “Jamaica Planter” as fourth Mate to commence his deep sea going period, this was a requirement, to qualify to become a Bristol Pilot an ex apprentice was required to pass a minimum certificate of First Mate F G, this would enable him to await a vacancy to sit the pilots examination and if successful to become a third Class Pilot.

Georges Deep Sea life was extensive and is yet another story, however it noteworthy to state that George passed all his Board of Trade Examinations first time after a very short periods at Navigation School, receiving his Masters F G on the 12th November 1951.

George was informed that there would be a vacancy for a Channel Pilot in 1952 when Pilot E Hunt retires, George passed his pilots examination and was appointed a 3rd Class Bristol Channel Pilot on 21st July 1952, after three years of progression he was Authorised as a First Class Pilot without limit in 1955.

George became a company representative and along with Tom Briggs, Alec Beere , Terry Russell & Terry Gilmore were very influential in forming the pilots policy with the Bristol Pilotage Authority, The implications of The Sir Robert Letch Report, with its local effect and of course together with the Transport and General Workers Union.

George was head hunted in 1975 by the owners of Kings Tugs, and retired from The Pilot service on 14th May, joined C J King & Sons as General Manager of King’s Tugs, prior to this in his off duty period on the 14th March, was flown to the Cape Verde Islands and returned as Master of the ” Sea Bristolian”.

The story of C J King Tugs and Yachting are full stories in their own right. Save to say George and Herbert Watkins built a boat, sailed from Bristol to Plymouth, off Plymouth they were met with dense fog, cautiously approaching the shore preparing to anchor, a vessel was heard nearby and a voice called are you the Plymouth Pilots, to which all on board replied ” No we are Bristol Pilots”.

W. C. Rickards Bristol Pilot retired.

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