The reasons for establishing pilot services nowadays and in the past are not too different. The aim is identical – the safety in maneuvering.

“The information about the pilotage and the pilots in our waterways in the past centuries is scanty. Before The Liberation from the Turkish yoke, a few names are known of some Bulgarian pilots, who helped Turkish and Austrian ships navigate up and down the river Dunabe. It is possible that some of the Bulgarian helmsmen who had served in the naval forces participated later the ships pilotage in the Black Sea region. The first know pilots (and captains) after the Liberation from the Turkish yoke were foreigners. The pilotage in Bulgaria and in The Straits was not compulsory”. Fragment from I. Kazakov’s article “The pilotage and navigation in straits”.

We could judge from some articles published in the magazines “Sea concord” and “Sea follower” from the 1900-1930 period how pilotage was accomplished, the condition of the tug-boats and the ports of Varna and Bourgas and the struggle for a real maritime port administration.

Magazine “Sea concord” number 3 from 1925 published a photograph titled “The founders of the Bulgarian Black Sea navy” and listed the members of the first crew of the cruiser “Nadejda” who had received the ship from France in 1898. Sava Manolov, the pilot of the cruiser, could be seen on the photograph. He was born on the 13th of March in 1867 in Gabrovo. He had received his education from the Seafaring school “Peter the Great” in Narva, Russia in 1896. He is considered the first Bulgarian sea captain. He had worked on the ships “Bulgaria”, “Sofia”, “Boris”, “Cyril” and “Varna” as a Second officer and Captain-commandant. He died from heart attack on the 13th of March, 1927, while sailing with the ship “Varna”. With his hard work and his love to the sea he left distinct marks in the Bulgarian shipping.

Stoyan Kostov’s article “The first Bulgarian helmsman” is about Geogri Stoev, self-taught captain, who met the new Bulgarian ships “Boris” and “Bulgaria” when they arrived for the first time in Varna in 1924 and showed to the crews the anchorage at Varna roads.  His activities are described as pilot duties in the article.

The managing committee of The Bulgarian Steamship Company determined in 1924 a rate of 20 Turkish liras per month for the pilots, irrespective of the fixed rate in Istanbul, which means, even if the pilotage was not compulsory, the pilotage services were available. Pilot services were used in our ports. Every ship agency had stevedores, mooring men and dockers. Usually after the clearance had been given the most experienced stevedore went to the ship with an agency boat. He pointed the captain the berthing position and gave him some information about the port specifics. The maneuver depended only on the captain’s qualities, the meteorological conditions and the ship’s maneuvering characteristics. Leaving the berth was done in the same way. Tug-boats were rarely used, but we mustn’t forget that the ships were seldom over 100 meters in length. The tug-boats were used for different purposes, but not for maneuvering.
The magazine “Sea news” published on the 1st of January, 1926, order No301 of Varna Port Management, which settles the organization of the pilotage services. The six items of the order set out the rates, the organization of the pilotage and the pilots’ duties. The same date should be considered as a birthday of the Varna State Pilot Station.

The first record about the presence of a port tug-boat is from 1916 about the tug-boat “Varna”. The tug-boats “Osam”, “G. Rakovski”, “Voivoda” were used in port Varna for the next few years. Most of them were low-powered and reconstructed from another vessel type. Most of the maneuvers in Port Varna were done without tug-boats almost until 1949-1950.

The newspaper "Sea news" from the 1st of January published Order No301
The Second World War had leaved marks on the pilotage and port tug-boat services. Our waters were announced as a danger area. Through the mine regions the ships were guided from military pilots, who were either on the board of the ship or on a special leading-ship.

The main pilotage method used on the outer fairways was following the military vessel from the enter point to the berthing position. Rarely the pilotage was carried out on board the piloted vessel. This method was used until clearing our water from mines. When there were not military pilots available, the outer pilotage was done by civil pilots and pilot boats from the Navy.

The map of the coastal faiways used by captain Todorov in 1948
Jordan Alyov, Kiril Genov, Kosta Danov, Ivan Lambev, Georgi Todorov were some of the pilots who worked after the Second World War.

Captain Andrei Jekov was born on the 3rd of May, 1914. He worked as a pilot in 1962.

Captain Geogri Nikolov Todorov was born on the 13th of March, 1916. He had been working as a pilot in Port Varna since the 25th of 1942.

Captain Jordan Dimitrov Alyov. He was born on the 17th of February in 1907 in Varna. He had been working as a pilot at the port since 1941 until his death on the 27th of November, 1948.

After the Second World War the pilotage was divided in two – deep-sea and port pilotage. The outer pilotage area was from cape Emine and cape Shabla to port Varna and back from the port to the capes. A. Bondjev, G. Gardev, B. Baev, G. Todorov had worked as pilots in Varna and Bourgas after 1946. A. Bondjev, G. Gardev, B. Baev, G. Todorov had worked as pilots in Varna and Bourgas after 1946.
There was no change in the way the pilotage was done in the port. The pilots were boarding almost every ship close to the breakwater with different vessels – cutters and even row boats. The maneuvers were done mainly with the ship engine, the anchors and the mooring lines using mooring row boats. Leaving the berthing position was done the same way. Tug-boats were rarely used.

After the 9th of September, 1944, The Pilotage Service was under the management of Port surveillance section at the Management “Water transport”. The Pilotage Service’s activity was regulated from the “Regulations about pilotage service”, which came in force on the 10th of September, 1955 and was valid until the 28th of December, 1972.

Mooring buoys positions at Port Varna as described by captain Todorov and captain Jekov
Since the 1st of January, 1968 The Pilot Service was under the management of Port Varna, where a section “Port fleet and pilot service” was founded. After that these services started their impetuously development.

In 1971 the new “Code of merchant shipping” came in force, where in section III and IV the port fleet and pilotage services were described. On the 28th of December, 1972 “Order about the pilotage service” came into operation.

On the 1st of April, 1995 the Pilotage service officially became a private organization servicing the shipping. The new union was named Pilot cooperation Co Ltd with an administrative council elected from the members. The organization united the private pilot stations: “Nadar pilot”, “Pilot’s cooperation”, “Alpha-pilot” and others. The Bulgarian Maritime Pilots' Association, whose member is The Pilot station Co Ltd became a full member of the International Pilot’s Association with headquarters in Antwerp in 1991.
Source: Nikolai Nikolov - Nike's book
"Pilotage and tug services at Port Varna"
Publisher STENO, Varna 2006
VHF CH 14 ; Phone: (+359 52) 602 446/7/8; Fax: (+359 52) 602 445/6/7