PILOT BOAT PEACOCK
Designed as the ultimate heavy weather vessel, the Pilot Boat Peacock crossed the most dangerous river bar on the planet, the Columbia River Bar, more than 35,000 times during her 30-plus year career.
The Peacock was decommissioned and replaced by an integrated pilot boat/helicopter transportation system in 1999. Because of her historical significance, however, the Peacock was given to the Columbia River Maritime Museum by the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association for preservation and display.
The Columbia River Maritime Museum initiated a campaign to restore and exhibit the Peacock on the Museum campus, celebrating her important role in providing safe transportation of bar pilots to and from ships as they entered and exited the mouth of the Columbia River.
Weighing 220,000 pounds, the Peacock sits on eight steel pilings driven to bedrock more than 40 feet below ground. Two giant cranes — capable of lifting over 300 tons each — brought the Peacock out of the river and carried her to the permanent display structure at the east end of the Museum campus. Placement on the structure's support cradles was engineered to accuracy within one-sixteenth of an inch.
The Pilot Boat Peacock was custom-built for the Columbia River Bar Pilots in Germany in 1964, and is based on a North Sea rescue boat design. Delivered for service in 1967, she is 90 feet long, 33 feet tall, and is self-righting. The stern of the boat is hinged to allow the launch and recovery of a 23-foot "daughter boat" used in heavy weather to make the actual transfer of the pilots between the ship and pilot boat.
The Peacock's maximum speed was 26 miles per hour. She carried a crew of three in addition to up to 12 bar pilots.