Bar pilots keep watch over St. Johns River

Scott O’Connor recently stood on the bridge of a ship called the Cosmo Spirit and just watched.

The 46-year-old bar pilot watched everything. After 26 years sailing on ships around the world, O’Connor now spends his working life watching Jacksonville and the St. Johns River from the bridges of massive vessels such as the 574-foot Cosmo Spirit.

As the ship approached the mouth of the St. Johns River, O’Connor watched the Mayport Naval Air Station on the left. To his right, he watched swimmers and recreational fishermen at Huguenot Park.