SENIOR marine pilot at North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP), Mike Boss-Walker, will retire this month after an extensive and varied career as a master mariner.
He has been singled out by NQBP for his impressive record with 40 years of marine piloting behind him, given many don’t take up such roles until their mid-30s.
Captain Boss-Walker said it was the desire to be on the water and not behind a desk that first attracted him to life at sea at a young age.
“I started my working life as a law clerk – and I hated it,” Capt Boss-Walker said.
“I used to look out the window at the ships coming into Hobart and thought ‘that’s where I should be’.
“So, I went down on board a ship to find out about that and I found myself a cadetship and that was when I went to sea.”
That was 1965 and the start of his 12 years with both the Australian and British Merchant Navy, which took him around the world eight times.
After working at the Tasmanian port of Burnie for 25 years, Capt Boss-Walker moved into other roles in Queensland and has been working at the port of Hay Point for the past six years.
NQBP manager pilotage services Bryce Bathe said Capt Boss-Walker was extremely highly regarded by his fellow marine pilots.
“He is an amazing resource of information in regards to ship handling, managing bridge teams and his professional ethos in the marine pilot profession,” he said, adding that Capt Boss-Walker had piloted in excess of 7000 ships throughout his career.
Capt Boss-Walker has seen more changes than he ever considered possible, with technological advances changing the operation of marine pilots. But he said the greatest satisfaction was beyond the technology.
“It’s extremely satisfying to take a 300-metre long ship and put it alongside the berth and not dent or bend anything, to do it safely, and not damage the environment – it’s very satisfying,” Capt Boss-Walker said.
“You drive home and you’re on a high. You never stop learning and every job is different.”
It’s been an enjoyable and rewarding six years at Hay Point for Capt Boss-Walker, and he said it was a great place to finish his career.