"A Pastoral Call in The Downs"

Sky Pilot

"The term 'Sky Pilot' is applied sometimes by sailors to clergymen; not merely to the Missions to Seamen Chaplains who work amongst them, but to all clergymen.  No doubt the expression is chiefly used in jest, but behind the jest there lies in Jack's breast a solemn conviction that a Sky Pilot is what he wants, and just what the minister of Christ should be.

History is full of expressions originally given in derision but adopted and glorified by the very persons to whom they were at first contemptuously applied.  Surely - Surely it is our high calling to lead and help our fellow-voyagers to the skies"

This is how the Reverend Thomas Stanley Treanor, M.A., prefaced the second edition of his book "The Log of a Sky Pilot" in 1894.

"It is impossible to go on board the vessels at anchor in the stormy Downs in faultless clerical costume.  One heavy breaker, flying masthead over the boat and hurled aft into the face of the clerical steersman, in spite of oilskins and sou'westers, in every sense of the word takes the starch out of his collar, reducing it to a wet rag, and any of his dignity which is bound up with his collar to a corresponding pulp."

"On a gloriously bright day, with heavy easterly sea, tawny with the sands churned up into its liquid mass from the Goodwins, and a strong north-east wind, we got alongside a deeply laden schooner which was at anchor, but was plunging heavily into the sea, and taking it into her very hawse-holes.  The process of sailing at and getting alongside a vessel I shall not describe here, as it will be found given in detail in another chapter.  We did get alongside, and I got on board; how, it will be explained in another place, suffice it to say that dripping and glistening in my oilskins and long sea-boots, and shaking the spray from my sou'wester, I stood on deck and accosted the captain.

'What are you?' said he.  'Are you a pilot?'

'Well,' I said, 'I am that, no doubt, but I'm something else besides.'

'Oh, I see!' said he.  'I suppose you're a bit of a fisherman, too.'

'Well, yes,' I said, 'I am a fisherman, too, but I'm something else besides, as well.'

'Let's have it all at once,' said he.

'Appearances,' I said, 'are against me, but the fact is I am a parson.'

The captain only slowly took it in, and surveyed me all over.

'Look at the boat,' I said.

He looked over the side, and said, 'She's a beauty! and sure enough it's the Missions to Seamen boat"

Pictures and quotations on this section of the site are taken from:

The Log of a Sky Pilot, or, Work and Adventure Around the Goodwin Sands

by Rev. T. Stanley Treanor, Chaplain, Missions to Seamen, Deal and the Downs

Second Edition

published by The Religious Tract Society, London, 1894.

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