At the beginning and end ports of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Pilot Boats will take maritime pilots to the ships wish to navigate the river, traveling east or west. The Maritime Captains will command the helmsman as he navigates for narrow areas of the river and to avoid treacherous shallow water. The ship captains are not allowed to navigate the seaway themselves. Many ships have run aground and some had met their fate the river bottom.
This pilot exchange was taking place outside the port of Cape Vincent NY. It would appear there is no one aboard the pilot boat in this image. In hindsight, Perhaps I should have embellished it with a figure on the ladder. This might have a different meaning to the painting and a different title. I used the hull of the ship as a background without showing the deck height. We only think this is quite a climb by the pilot.