DOZENS of mourners shared a ferry pilot’s final journey around Portsmouth Harbour aboard a craft he drove.
Friends, family and colleagues of Rhett Gibson, 51, gathered at Ferry Gardens in Gosport yesterday as pallbearers led by his children placed his coffin aboard Gosport Ferry’s Spirit of Gosport.
Mr Gibson had delivered the craft from Bristol along with a crew from the firm in 2001.
In bright sunshine it was flanked by two harbour tug boats spraying water from their water cannons by way of salute, with a second ferry following behind in procession.
Mr Gibson, a father of two, first started work at the ferry firm 34 years ago in 1979, starting out as a pontoon boy later proving himself as a capable pilot.
Bryn Gibson, 58, of Gosport, is his brother.
‘He was happy-go-lucky. He lived for the ferries, for rebuilding classic motorcycles and his two children.
‘It was a major shock to everyone on the ferries and to his family.
‘It means an awful lot to have the funeral on the ferry.
‘It’s his final farewell – that’s what he lived for.’
He added that his brother had brought four classic motorbikes to showroom condition and had helped with the designs of the Spirit of Gosport.
Wayne Crawshaw worked on Mr Gibson’s crew at the firm as back ropesman.
He said: ‘He was steadfast, he was in charge – he always made sure things were done.
‘He led by example and was a leader.
‘You could have a laugh with him and he was down to earth. We’d go for a drink together in the pub.
‘He was one of the boys – he didn’t class himself as above anyone.
‘He started out at the bottom and worked his way up just like everyone else.
‘His piloting skills were second to none.’
General manager of Gosport Ferry, Keith Edwards, said: ‘