Arthur Ransome Wiki
ICS Sierra

S flag, as used on Goblin

ICS Golf

G flag, the modern signal

The Flushing Pilot or Dutch pilot is a broad, blue-clothed, red-faced man who has hairy hands with mottlings of blue (WD20). The (never-named) pilot takes Goblin into Flushing in We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea and befriends her crew after initially being considered by them as an unfriendly native.

John is at first nervous about asking for help, due to Jim Brading's warnings about being seized for salvage (WD5). He knows he can ask for a pilot when he sees the pilot vessel: We can take a pilot to wherever we want to go. It isn't like asking for help. Jim said so himself. It's quite alright to signal for a pilot. Even liners do it, but tells the others to go below as Anyone (even a pilot, could grab us for salvage with) all of us being so beastly young (WD19). The problem of not knowing the name of the port they are approaching is solved when the pilot asks if John wants to go into Flushing, in English, as he has seen the ensign on the yacht (WD20).

So the pilot, who has been a ship’s boy in a sailing ship, thinks that John is a sort of Roger and the Captain of the Goblin is having a merry barty and making merry in the cabin. John is not to disturb him, and the pilot made as if he were tipping a bottle down his throat. (WD20)

In harbour the pilot says when the others come out from the cabin And I dink de capten too merry in de cabin .... wid de bottle perhaps. On finding that there are only four children and that small cat on board, he refuses to take a fee for piloting them in. Then Daddy makes a pierhead jump the other way and joins them. He shares a dose of medicinal rum with him. (WD20,21).

When they decided to ask for a pilot, Titty looked at the flag for a pilot, the S flag which is a dark blue square with a wide white border. A note explains that: in the new code the signal for a pilot is G, with upright stripes of blue and yellow (WD6).