He was tall for 13, but lanky. The burly crewmen dwarfed him. The captain offered the pair black coffee and Blake accepted, to feel like one of the grown-ups. The ship was transporting molasses and the air had a thick sweet smell, overpowering enough that when Blake steps on a molasses ship today, he is immediately taken back to that moment: the bitter black coffee, and the warm, sickly smell of sugar.
“That was not a good night,” Blake said. “But when my father walked up on the bridge of the ship, it was like he was king. He’s in charge. Ever since then, this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a pilot.”
I happen to be very good friends with a Sandy Hook harbor pilot and I can vouch for the article; everything he has explained to me about the job over the years really is that fucking crazy.