In December 2022 Walter Foley retired as pilot officer for New Ross. Walter had provided the service since my uncle Sonny retired at Cheekpoint in 1995. Walter actually mentioned to me that he took over the role on the first tide of January 1996, Sonny retiring on the last tide of 1995. In recent years Walter was based at Ballyhack using his pilot cutter Crofter, but originally had based himself at Great Island, until the wooden jetty became unusable, and it was later sold, I believe for a €1
Tomás Sullivan of Cheekpoint took over the Pilot Officer role and although the Crofter was available, the new management of the port in New Ross ( Wexford Co Council) decided on getting a different boat, which they called the James Stevens presumably after the lifeboat of the same name which was based at the then Rosslare Fort and assisted in the rescue of the SS Mexico in February 1914.
According to the Marine Traffic website, JAMES STEVENS (MMSI: 250013635) is a Pilot Vessel and is sailing under the flag of Ireland. Her length overall (LOA) is 12 meters and her width is 4 meters. Originally built as a Mersey class lifeboat, (the first model was built in 1988). The site describes her as being “Designed to be launched and recovered from a beach via a launch and recovery tractor and carriage, she can also be launched from a slipway or lie afloat.The Mersey was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 1988 and the last Mersey class lifeboat was built in 1993”
James Stevens is based in New Ross and travels down and up the river to make the pilot exchanges. The Port of Waterford had a similar arrangement many years back but it was discontinued. So we will watch that practice to see how viable it is.
Obviously there is a lack of detail with this post, including photos, but I plan to add to it as and when I can. I’d particularly like to get more detail on the history of the craft.
I occasionally write small pieces for my own record that I publish on the blog. These are a way of keeping a record for myself and a very different style to my monthly heritage blogs. So if you came across this and wondered what the heck…please look at my normal stuff before rushing to judgement