My name is Roy Vance, I am a 37-year-old seafarer originally from Baton Rouge, La. My first job on the river came when I was 18 years old unloading pipe and rubber ships at the port of greater Baton Rouge. I would later attend Texas A&M and graduate from its Maritime Academy. My career on the water started as an Able Body Seaman working in the Oil Field, a few years later I worked my way up to Chief Mate. The current position I hold is a River Pilot where I am a member of the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association. Being a state pilot, I pilot foreign vessels from mile 0.0 above Head of Passes to mile marker 105 in New Orleans. As a pilot I am commissioned by the Governor of Louisiana to protect the people, property and interests of the state of Louisiana. We run a 24hr/7 day a week business including holidays, and even during natural disasters we are working on the river.
Mentors: Captain James E. Cramond and Captain Jack H. Anderson
Captain Cramond has been on the Mississippi River for 47 years. He started his career as a deckhand on assist tugs in 1975. He would work his way up to a Master of Towing and earn a First-Class Pilotage on the Lower Mississippi River. In 1980 he became a commissioned state pilot. Throughout his career he has spent many thankless hours working outside of piloting. Captain Cramond has served on the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association Board of Directors, and on the Board of River Port Pilots Commissioners. He has also been the President of the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association, Mississippi River Navigation Safety Advisory and many other positions ensuring river safety and the growth of Louisiana’s Maritime Industry.
Captain Anderson has been on the river for 45 years. He’s a Graduate of Kings Point Class of 1977, worked on tugs and supply vessels until becoming a Commissioned State Pilot in 1980. Captain Anderson has served the Crescent River Port Pilots as a member of the Board of Directors, Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners, Louisiana Pilots Board or Review and like Captain Cramond many other positions outside of the association to the help the Maritime Industry grow and remain a safe place to work.
I met Captain Cramond in 2013 when he was President of the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association. We communicated through email even though he had no idea who I was. I sent my resume to his email, and he agreed to meet with me. A few weeks after our meeting he would put me on my first ship with Captain Jarred Austin to see how I would like it. The next day Captain Cramond called me to see how everything went and to see if I wanted to ride another ship. My response shocked him. “Sir, I’m still riding, I’m on ship number 4 headed upriver”, at that point he knew that I was not afraid of hard work, and he knew without a doubt how badly I wanted to become a pilot, and how much love I had for the Mississippi River.
I’m a firm believer in “It takes a village to raise a child”. Having James Cramond and Jack Anderson as my first of many mentors on the river, I was able to be a sponge and try my best to absorb a combination of 84 years of piloting. I received a combination of hawsepiper ship handling (a maritime industry term used to refer to a merchant ship's officer who began their career as an unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime college), and a textbook ship handling. Not only did they teach me about the river and the importance of “ship handling not tug handling.” They taught me that you can’t just be a pilot moving ships and going home. You must get involved in the business and learn the business.
Captain Cramond and Captain Anderson, I thank you both for helping me become the pilot I am today, and encouraging me to grow as a partner and as a man.
Mentoring is a longstanding tradition of the river. Sharing your journey with a mentor may encourage others to follow your lead by walking in your footsteps or stepping up and becoming a mentor to another crew member wishing to advance. Please sn personal experiences of mentoring with RiverWorks Discovery, so that we may use them in our social media Mentor Monday posts.
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