I have been reading your magazine for many years, and have noticed that problems with pilot ladders are a recurring theme.
I was recently given a copy of a very interesting book titled A Treatise on Practical Seamanship by William Hutchinson, mariner and dock master at Liverpool. The book was first published in 1777.
Under the heading 'On getting a Pilot on board in Bad Weather at Sea', he has this to say: 'This is sometimes attended with so much danger that the Pilot sloops belonging to Liverpool, rather than run the risk of boarding a ship from their own sloop, sometimes go no nearer to the ship than to have a small rope thrown to or veered astern to them, which they make fast about the pilot's body under his armpits, he then goes overboard into the sea when as near the ship as they dare venture, and he is hauled on board the ship by the rope.
He has nothing to say about dropping the pilot when outbound. Perhaps they threw him over the side and hoped for the best.
Whilst I appreciate that this method might raise some questions from a health and safety point of view, it does have the advantage that it eliminates the need for a pilot ladder altogether, which I thought you might find of interest!
Capt Kerry V Lewis