Captains Jeff Haines, above left, and David Gelinas of Penobscot Bay & River Pilots Association approach a scrap iron ship in their new pilot vessel, Dirigo, a longer, heavier upgrade with a bright red hull. Gelinas later scaled the hulking hull of the cargo ship with a rope ladder as a pair of Chinese officers peered down from deck. As Dirigo pulled away, Gelinas’ airline-captain voice lit up the radio.

Haines, who captained ferries in Penobscot Bay and worked on offshore oil drilling boats on the coast of Africa, let a deckhand bring the pilot boat back to Rockland as the sun set over St. George. “When people ask what I do, it’s like, ‘Do you want the short answer or the long answer?’” The short answer: “I run into ships.”