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Pilotage Requirements

Discussion in 'Yacht Captains' started by Ken Bracewell, Jun 11, 2009.

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  1. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Rodger, I am still awaiting total costs; I'll let you know.

    I did get the following response from the Deputy Director (a very helpful and nice gentleman) of the US Coast Guard Office of Great Lakes Pilotage regarding our requirements in the Great Lakes:

    "this office is responsible for determining the pilotage requirements for vessels operating on the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes. Our guidance is defined by the Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960, 46 USC Section 9302, and related regulations which provide in pertinent part that "each vessel of the United States operating on register and each foreign vessel shall engage a U.S. or Canadian registered pilot for the route being navigated…". The recodification of the Act in 1983 deleted the word "merchant" from the phrase "foreign merchant vessel" (e.g. engaged in foreign trade).

    In 1991, the Coast Guard opined that Congress did not intend to make substantive changes that would have a negative impact on any group, specifically extending pilotage to pleasure or recreational vessels. Therefore, pilots are only required aboard "foreign merchant vessels" and U.S. vessels "engaged in foreign trade" which does not include pleasure or recreational vessels. "


    The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (Canada) requires any foreign vessel over 35m to take a pilot on the St. Lawrence, so we'll be using their services.

    The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority (Canada) recently changed their rules to reflect the Laurentian rules. Until this month, pilots were only required for foreign vessels greater than 1500GRT- now it is greater than 35m. The upside is that we'll only require a pilot in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes- so we'll need to use them from St. Lambert Lock through the Welland Canal, but will be free from there on up as long as we don't visit Canada.

    It is a shame that the Canadian businesses will suffer the loss of our spending because of this rule.
  2. Rodger

    Rodger Senior Member

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    Hello Ken I took up Bella Una 127' Burger formerly SIS W up the Welland Canal on Thursday, she is US flagged so she only required pilot through Quebec as she comes under the 1500 ton rule, also I took up Unity last week same thing.
    I no of another Westport 130' that is foreign was coming but the pilot rules may change that.
    The cost about five years ago was around $ 4500.00 for Montreal section of seaway and around $ 3500.00 for the Welland Canal.
  3. ychtcptn

    ychtcptn Senior Member

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    Just transited the Delaware and C&D to Annapolis, was seen and talked to by the pilots with no problems.
  4. captbh

    captbh New Member

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    So what are the specs on your boat and what was discussed in the conversation that made the difference between you and your friend two weeks ago?
  5. ychtcptn

    ychtcptn Senior Member

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    I think the difference was he went above the C&D to Philly. My conversation with the pilot had to with overtaking instructions and general traffic. Once I got out of the C&D I passed a Maryland Pilot on another yacht heading for the canal and no contact was initiated either.
  6. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    For Safety or Profit?

    My Favorite Subject, Yet Again...

    We are now in Guernsey fueling up before our trip back to Florida. The Admiralty List of Radio Signals for Guernsey is vague regarding pilotage, stating: Pilotage is compulsory except for those vessels exempted by law.
    To get clarification I called the Harbour Master, who told me that we would be exempt from compulsory pilotage for whatever reason (apparently it is an overly complex legislation involving length and different areas of the tiny harbour).

    Upon arrival, I was hailed by the pilots and told that I would be required to board a pilot. After them sending a boat out against my protests, they decided that it would be satisfactory for me to follow them into the harbour.

    So this morning I called the Harbour Master again to clarify, and was again told that I wouldn't need to take a pilot (for whatever reason) and that the pilots were mistaken. I was then again contacted by the Port Control stating that the Pilots (an independent organization) were insisting that we use their services. This went back and forth all morning.

    Long Story Short- Since I was "misinformed" we have been granted an exemption for this trip in/out of Guernsey. The next time we will be required to take a pilot.

    The Question Is- If pilotage were really just about safety and not profit, wouldn't the pilots have offered the compromise of free pilotage for this trip?
  7. Swamp fox

    Swamp fox Member

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    I think pilotage to an extent, is where politics meets the water, so to speak. Just look how long and hard it is to become a pilot. Seems like your family better have been one for 3 generations or so.

    The state pilots authority is going to do everything they can to force as much revenue their way as possible. If it involves a large, private motoryacht that somehow fits in the commercial pilotage guidelines, by all means they are going to bill you for their services.
  8. captbh

    captbh New Member

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    In Virginia it's all about profit.

    When we bought the boat in 2009 I called the Virginia pilots and spoke to the president. I told him the boat was 130 feet, CI flagged and 340 tons and that I hold a 1600 ton masters along with master of towing vessels and had 10 years experience working tugs in Norfolk. He told me that if we were only transiting from the ICW to sea or vice versa they would not require us to take a pilot. That worked fine including going north this spring.

    On my return trip last week I got a call from them the morning after filling my ANOA, asking for my eta to the pilot station. I explained the situation and was told they would check with the president. He called me later that day and had no recollection of our conversation and said I was just lucky they hadn't spotted me the last 3 years. I asked how they spotted me this year and he volunteered that they are checking ANOAs. When I asked why they didn't see my ANOAs the last 3 years he grumbled a little and didn't answer.

    I was told I needed a Virginia pilot on board in Virgina waters by Virgina law and they were only doing what was required. After about ten minutes of me explaining my qualifications he actually stated " If you want to transit without a pilot, which I don't recommend, then you just need to pay the bill". Could it be any more clear what the intent of the enforcement is?

    I had a young pilot, mid 20's who I am sure was an apprentice bring me in from the pilot station to Bluewater in Hampton. The next morning another pilot boarded at Bluewater to take us through the harbor and down the Elizabeth River. He planned to get off at the Gilmerton bridge but they didn't have a boat available to pick him up so he rode to the lock where he would be picked up by car.

    During the trip I questioned him about getting off in the lock. I reminded him that there was 20 miles more of Virgina waters beyond the lock and "Virgina law requires" me to have a pilot aboard. He said they always get off in the lock. I protested and clearly stated that I did not want to violate the law so he needed to ride to the NC boarder. He called the office and then told me he got "approval" for me to proceed without him as they always do.

    Interestingly, when he got off in the lock, the lock guys stopped him and asked where he was going. He told them a car was picking him up and they told him there was no way that would happen. The lock is a secure facility and no one comes or leaves except approved employees. He told them he was a Virginia pilot and they always do this. The lock master told him he didn't care if he was Santa Claus he wasn't leaving the premises. When the pilot again stated they do this all the time, the lock master said he has been there 8 years and this is the first time he has ever seen it. The pilot office called the Army Corps office and got permission for the pilot to leave this time but in the future they will have to arrange to get off somewhere else.

    So is it about the law or the pilot's profit and convince??????
  9. Swamp fox

    Swamp fox Member

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    Excellent story of the way the system works. Kind of a shame, but how else are they going to support that 300k/yr+ pilot job?
  10. Rodger

    Rodger Senior Member

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    Hi Ken
    This sounds like your trip up the Sea Way last year.
    Rodger
  11. discokachina

    discokachina Senior Member

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    Found this tidbit from Naval Science 302: Lesson 14 regarding pilot requirements in Virginia.

    "Pilotage.--The Commonwealth of Virginia requires foreign vessels, or U.S. registered vessels departing on or returning from a foreign voyage, to engage the services of a State pilot (pilot). The Federal government requires a Coast Guard licensed pilot on a U.S. commercial vessel of 1,600 gross tons or more on a coastwise voyage while the vessel is in U.S. "pilotage waters." The master of a U.S. commercial vessel on a coastwise voyage can satisfy this requirement by employing a State pilot with a Federal license or independent federally-licensed pilot or by utilizing a member of the vessel's crew who has been issued a Coast Guard pilot's license for those waters. Federal law excludes military and other public vessels from State or Federal pilot requirements."
  12. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Has anyone had any experience with pilotage in San Juan? We're heading there for fuel next week, and I'll probably stop in the BVI if I'm required to take a pilot.
  13. ychtcptn

    ychtcptn Senior Member

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    I was in and out of there 3 years ago with out any pilotage problems, I have not heard of anyone being harrassed. Not sure what the rules are though. The only thing is to make sure you do your ANOA.
    Hope you have fair winds crossing the pond!
  14. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Absolutely. The maximum size vessel that compulsory pilotage in Canadian waters is 35m.
    The US waters only require a foreign flagged vessel to carry a pilot if it commercially registered or being used for commercial purposes.
  15. lobo

    lobo Senior Member

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    Not quite so on the left coast:
    when I last checked, Washington state required a pilot for all foreign flagged pleasure boats, and Alaska for all larger 65ft loa, with a possibility for a very costly and regionally limited excemption.

    lobo
  16. Rodger

    Rodger Senior Member

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    Just to confirm Kens information is correct for the Great Lakes.
    Working with a guy now who is 35.5 M comimg from Chicago if he can not get the boat down below 35 M will cost big bucks to get through Seaway.
    Somewhere around $ 15,000.00
    Rodger
  17. HTMO9

    HTMO9 Senior Member

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    Understood. We will not have any trouble at 80 ft non commercial up to Chicago. Some poor human being will then have to hit the books and get all the info needed for this trip. The boat will be kicked off a cargo ship in the vicinity of Quebec, where the trip will start at the beginning of the Indian Summer.

    Please let me ask one more (maybe stupid) question I have with the infos at my hands at the moment.

    Is there a water way connection between the Chicago area (Lake Michigan) and the Mississipi, usable for a boat (and if yes up to what size of boat) :confused::confused:

    Cheers
  18. Rodger

    Rodger Senior Member

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    will send you PM
  19. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Yes, the Illinois waterway connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi. Length is not a problem at 80'. Height is as there is a bridge around 19' on it that you have to get underneath.
  20. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Are they really going to notice the extra .5 meters? I'd just tell them it's 35M