Pa­trick G. Lynch

Vet­eran pi­lot guided ships up and down the Ch­e­sa­peake for more than four decades

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fred.ras­[email protected]­sun.com

Cap­tain Pa­trick G. Lynch, a mem­ber of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land Pilots who for more than four decades guided ships up and down the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, died Jan. 28 from con­ges­tive heart fail­ure at Stella Maris Hospice. The Lutherville res­i­dent was 89.

“I look upon Pat Lynch as the ‘per­fect pi­lot,’ ” Cap­tain Brian H. Hope, who un­til his re­tire­ment in 2013 from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land Pilots spent 43 years on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay han­dling ships, wrote in an email trib­ute to his fel­low pi­lot. “He was not only an ex­cel­lent pi­lot but, as we of­ten say when de­scrib­ing a hard­work­ing in­di­vid­ual in the pi­lot busi­ness, he was a good turn,” wrote Cap­tain Hope, an au­thor, ma­rine artist, and for­mer chair­man of Project Lib­erty Ship, which owns and op­er­ates the Lib­erty ship S.S. John W. Brown.

“He could al­ways be counted on to be avail­able when called and would be ready at any time to step in to help a part­ner in need. He was one of my best friends and just a su­per guy,” Cap­tain Hope, who lives on the Magothy River in Anne Arun­del County, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Pa­trick Gaierty Lynch, the son of Edgar G. Lynch, a Mary­land Ca­su­alty In­sur­ance Co. ex­ec­u­tive, and his wife, Mary Bourne Lynch,a home­maker, was born in Bal­ti­more and raised on Clover­hill Road in the city’s Tus­cany-Can­ter­bury neigh­bor­hood.

A 1947 grad­u­ate of Boys’ Latin School, he briefly at­tended what is now Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land be­fore go­ing into the Navy, where he was a para­chute rig­ger in San Diego, Calif.

Cap­tain Lynch caught the ro­mance of the sea and ships as a boy and grew up lis­ten­ing to the sto­ries of a nearby neigh­bor who was a bay pi­lot and the fa­ther of one his good friends. It filled him with am­bi­tion to one day be­come one.

“Cap­tain Lynch joined the pilots as an ap­pren­tice in 1952 af­ter two years in the Navy,” re­ported The Bal­ti­more Sun in a 1981 pro­file. “He has only two years of col­lege and is slightly dyslexic, al­though he is well-read, quot­ing Win­ston Churchill, Thucy­dides and Rud­yard Ki­pling with rel­ish.”

He com­pleted his ap­pren­tice­ship in 1958, and be­gan his ca­reer as a Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pi­lot on what is the long­est sin­gle pi­lotage in the world, ex­tend­ing 150 miles from Bal­ti­more to Cape Henry, Va. He would guide ships to and from Bal­ti­more to Cape Henry, and as far north as Ch­e­sa­peake City and the Ch­e­sa­peake and Delaware Canal, where the Delaware River pi­lot took over or re­lin­quished com­mand to Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pilots.

Be­cause most cargo ships steam at mostly night and in all kinds of weather, climb­ing aboard a mov­ing ship up a rope lad­der with wooden rungs hung sus­pended over its side while the pi­lot car­ries his suit­case, amounts to scal­ing the side of a three-story-high piece of mov­ing steel from the pi­lot boat, which is also mov­ing along­side. “This job is haz­ardous only when you get on and off the ship,” he ex­plained in a 1976 Wash­ing­ton Post in­ter­view.

Fog, snow, wind and the Ch­e­sa­peake’s rep­u­ta­tion for in­tense thun­der­storms can com­pli­cate the life of a pi­lot, who is re­spon­si­ble for the ship and its cargo, cou­pled with the phys­i­cal va­garies of the bay with its nar­row chan­nels, dan­ger­ous shoals, and shal­low wa­ter. “The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay is kind of fa­mous for ts thun­der­storms. The wind can go from noth­ing al­most to a gale force in a mat­ter of min­utes,” he told The Post. “A thun­der­storm or a snow­storm can give you bad re­cep­tion on the radar. So you have to be very cau­tious.”

“I re­mem­ber one of my first pas­sages as a young pi­lot,” he ex­plained in a 1979 Sun in­ter­view. “The ship’s mas­ter called me ‘Red’ be­cause of my hair. When the fog set in, he called me ‘Cap­tain.’ ”

Cap­tain Lynch’s base was the as­so­ci­a­tion’s of­fice on Baylis Street in Can­ton. “Lynch ar­rives at work look­ing any­thing but a white-uni­formed ship cap­tain or den­im­clad mer­chant sea­man with knit watch­cap; he’s dressed in a sports jacket, slacks and tie and car­ries a small suit­case and rain­coat, a jaunty busi­ness­man ready to go to sea,” The Post ar­ti­cle said.

All pilots dress in the same non-nau­ti­cal style of clothes. “The clothes make a state­ment, how you feel about the job,” he told The Post. “The cap­tain is al­ways well dressed. When you go on board, you get no less re­spect than he does.”

When asked if he had plenty of sto­ries to tell from his years sail­ing the Ch­e­sa­peake, Cap­tain Lynch replied: “There’s an old say­ing. A good pi­lot doesn’t have any sto­ries.”

“I first met Pat Lynch when I was sail­ing as a deck of­fi­cer on a ship bound into Bal­ti­more,” said Cap­tain Hope, whose book, “Bay Pi­lot: A His­tory of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land Pilots,” was pub­lished last year. The as­so­ci­a­tion, which was founded in 1852, is the old­est state­cod­i­fied or­ga­ni­za­tion of pilots in the U.S. “We had a lively dis­cus­sion about var­i­ous top­ics, rang­ing from shot­guns to pol­i­tics. I thought, ‘Wow, if all pilots are as in­ter­est­ing as this one, it must be quite the as­so­ci­a­tion.’ ”

When Cap­tain Hope was se­lected for his ap­pren­tice­ship, the two men re­newed their friend­ship “which con­tin­ued through all my years as a pi­lot,” he said. “Ev­ery­one re­ally liked Pat Lynch. He was a true gen­tle­man in ev­ery sense of the word.”

Cap­tain Lynch served on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s board of su­per­vi­sors and was ap­pointed by Gov. Harry R. Hughes to the state Board of Pi­lot Ex­am­in­ers.

He also served for many years on the board of the Al­liance for the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and be­gan a com­mit­ment from the pilots to the al­liance for the restora­tion of the es­tu­ary. he had been a long­time board mem­ber of the United Sea­men’s Ser­vice, an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports sea­far­ers in ports around the world, in­clud­ing Bal­ti­more.

When he turned 65 in 1994, he re­tired from the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Cap­tain Lynch, who had lived in Fed­eral Hill and North Roland Park, was a vol­un­teer with Meals On Wheels of Cen­tral Mary­land. He was a res­i­dent of the Mercy Ridge Re­tire­ment Com­mu­nity in Lutherville at his death.

In ad­di­tion to his work as a pi­lot, Cap­tain Lynch was a full colonel in the Mary­land Air Na­tional Guard, fly­ing Grum­man twinengine fly­ing boats from 1955 through 1971. He had 8,000 hours of fly­ing time be­hind him when he re­tired as com­man­der of the 135th Tac­ti­cal Air­lift Group, based at the Glenn L. Martin Air­port in Mid­dle River.

Cap­tain Lynch had re­stored sev­eral homes in Ox­ford and Fed­eral Hill and was an avid wood­worker. He en­joyed wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing, back­pack­ing, sail­ing, read­ing and travel, and reg­u­larly at­tended the Re­nais­sance In­sti­tute at Notre Dame of Mary­land Univer­sity. He was a mem­ber of the North Naples Coun­try Club in Florida.

Sev­eral years ago, af­ter the death of a fel­low pi­lot, Cap­tain Lynch was asked to give the eu­logy. “At the end of his talk, Pat used the term that pilots of­ten use when wish­ing their fel­low pilots a pleasant voy­age, ‘Good trip to you Roger,’ ” said Cap­tain Hope. “I can only say the same to my dear friend and part­ner. Good trip to you, Pat.”

Plans for a me­mo­rial ser­vice to be held in March are in­com­plete.

He is sur­vived by his wife of 25 years, Sally M. Seifert of Lutherville; two sons, Christoper W. Lynch of Glyn­don and Damian B. Lynch of Tar­pon Springs, Fla.; a step­son, Rob Seifert of Ocean City; three step­daugh­ters, Dor­rie Spill­man of Bal­ti­more County’s Charles­brooke neigh­bor­hood, Su­san Seifert and Tracey Kim­ball, both of Tow­son; 11 grand­chil­dren; and three great-grand­chil­dren. An ear­lier mar­riage to Stephany Wat­son Smith ended in di­vorce.

Pa­trick Lynch was also a full colonel in the Mary­land Air Na­tional Guard.

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