Pilot on Board. Where's the boundary line?

Where exactly is the line that says where you have to have a pilot on board? I’m approaching the port of YouNameIt (let’s say it’s domestic U.S.) and the pilot boat says, “Keep coming, pilot will board you inside the jetties” or “2 miles inside the sea buoy” or the like. Where are the rules about exactly where you have to have the pilot before proceeding any further?

[QUOTE=highseasharry;133493]Where exactly is the line that says where you have to have a pilot on board? I’m approaching the port of YouNameIt (let’s say it’s domestic U.S.) and the pilot boat says, “Keep coming, pilot will board you inside the jetties” or “2 miles inside the sea buoy” or the like. Where are the rules about exactly where you have to have the pilot before proceeding any further?[/QUOTE]

In the U.S. pilotage is regulated by the states. This is what Maine rules say:

]The list below provides a number of locations which the Commission considers appropriate to rendezvous for vessels and pilots. This list is not comprehensive, but it provides examples of appropriate rendezvous locations. Pilots choosing to board or leave a vessel at other locations must only choose locations which will allow the vessel to proceed at least as safely as if the pilot boarded or left the vessel at the listed pilot stations considering all the conditions then existing.

-(snip)

My experience in the U.S. is that the agreement is made between the master and pilot, or the master can decide not to come in.

46 cfr § 15.301

“the navigable waters of the united states, including all inland
waters and offshore waters to a distance of three nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial sea is
measured.”

That’s for COLREGS, the OP is asking where exactly compulsory pilotage takes effect. Which is up to each municipality, or state, that requires pilotage to be compulsory or not. They’re probably all like that one for Maine. Basically saying ‘you need a pilot to enter the port, he should embark wherever pilots usually embark’

http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF.cgi?QUERYTYPE=LAWS+&QUERYDATA=@SLNAV0A6+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=BROWSER+&TOKEN=42246916+&TARGET=VIEW

This is the link to the applicable NY laws. It’s a lot of reading but the exact geographical location is not stated. It pretty much says though, which vessels must take a pilot. you can infer that the location is wherever the pilots say it is.

[QUOTE=LI_Domer;133509]That’s for COLREGS, the OP is asking where exactly compulsory pilotage takes effect. Which is up to each municipality, or state, that requires pilotage to be compulsory or not. They’re probably all like that one for Maine. Basically saying ‘you need a pilot to enter the port, he should embark wherever pilots usually embark’[/QUOTE]

No shit. Since you couldn’t look it up:

§ 15.301Definitions of terms used in this part.
(a) The following terms defined in this subpart apply only to the manning of vessels subject to the manning provisions in the navigation and shipping laws of the United States:
Assistance Towing means towing a disabled vessel for consideration.
Coastwise seagoing vessel means a vessel that is authorized by its Certificate of Inspection to proceed beyond the Boundary Line established in part 7 of this chapter.
Deck crew (excluding licensed individuals) means, as used in 46 U.S.C. 8702, only the following members of the deck department below the grade of licensed individual: Able seamen and ordinary seamen.
Designated areas means those areas within pilotage waters for which first class pilot’s licenses or endorsements are issued under part 10, subpart G, of this Chapter, by the Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI). The areas for which first class pilot’s licenses or endorsements are issued within a particular Marine Inspection Zone and the specific requirements to obtain them may be obtained from the OCMI concerned.
Directly supervised means being in the direct line of sight of the person in charge or maintaining direct, two-way communications by a convenient, reliable means, such as a predetermined working frequency over a hand-held radio.
Disabled vessel means a vessel that needs assistance, whether docked, moored, anchored, aground, adrift, or under way; but does not mean a barge or any other vessel not regularly operated under its own power.
Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) for the purposes of part 15 means any person designated as such by the Commandant and who under the Coast Guard District Commander is in charge of an inspection zone.
Operate, operating, or operation, as applied to vessels, refers to a vessel anytime passengers are embarked whether the vessel is underway, at anchor, made fast to shore, or aground.
[B]Pilotage waters means the navigable waters of the United States, including all inland waters and offshore waters to a distance of three nautical miles from the baseline from which the Territorial Sea is measured.[/B]
Staff officer means a person who holds a certificate of registry in the staff department such as a purser, a medical doctor or professional nurse, which is issued by the Coast Guard.
Self-Propelled has the same meaning as the terms propelled by machinery and mechanically propelled. This term would also include vessels fitted with both sails and mechanical propulsion.
Tank barge means a non-self-propelled tank vessel.
Tank vessel means a vessel that is constructed or adapted to carry, or that carries, oil or hazardous material in bulk as cargo or cargo residue.
Tankship means any tank vessel constructed or adapted primarily to carry oil or hazardous material in bulk as cargo or cargo residue and propelled by power or sail.
Transfer means any movement of dangerous liquid or liquefied gas as cargo in bulk or as cargo residue to, from, or within a vessel by means of pumping, gravitation, or displacement. Section 13.127 of this chapter describes what qualifies as participation in a creditable transfer.
Underway means that a vessel is not at anchor, made fast to the shore, or aground.
(b) The following categories of licensed individuals are established in part 10 of this chapter. When used in this part, the following terms mean an individual holding a valid license and/or endorsement to serve in that capacity issued under part 10 of this chapter.

COLREGS have nothing to do with distance from shore. That section, if you checked, makes no reference whatsoever to COLREGS.

Guess you outsmarted me. Kudos sir, your Saturday must be off to a good start.

The answer is not a simple one because it varies according to your location, vessel, and route. The simplest answer is to consult the local expert, i.e. the pilot.

If you require a “State” pilot the boundary line for where you require a pilot is almost always the Territorial Sea Line of Demarcation, which is usually very near or on top of the COLREGS line in the United States. Of course you can depart from that rule, or almost any other, to avoid immediate danger. For example when the weather is very bad outside and a safe boarding can not be arranged.

If you only require a “Federal” pilot and you are going to proceed on a route for which the OCMI issues first class pilots licenses then it is whenever you enter the designated area. (This is usually also very near the COLREGS line, except for some INLAND routes with which I am not familiar as I am a blue water sailor)

Between the three mile line (this is the point at which most federal navigational regulations laws take effect) and the earlier mentioned points you only need a person with an officers license that has transited the route in the past 5 years, and if over 1600 tons an annual physical. This however is often disregarded with the excuse that it is unsafe to board ships so far off, though truly it is most often unnecessary and impractical.

Table 15.812 which you can find here addresses when/where you will need federal pilots. http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/46/15.812

It seems beyond the scope of this page to begin to list sources for locations required for other states and countries.

Off hand I can think of a couple of places the pilot station is inside three miles. Puget Sound pilot station is about 1/2 mile NE of Ediz Hook well inside the Straits of Juan de Fuca , the Chesapeake Bay pilot station is inside the three mile line, they get off inside the Bay.

U.S.Europe, Japan are good about having the pilots when and where you expect them. Lots of other countries not so much. In the Middle East many ports the pilot boards while the ship is already in the channel and I’ve had them get off just after pulling the ship off the dock.

The statute for Texas ports’ is here:

Sec. 61.003. DUTY TO ENGAGE PILOT. (a) A consignee having control of a vessel shall obtain a pilot to provide pilot services when the vessel is under way or otherwise moving on a river, bay, harbor, or port in this state unless the vessel is:

INDENT=2 documented as a United States vessel and licensed for and engaged in coastwise trade;
(2) a public vessel;
(3) of 20 gross tons or less;
(4) a motorboat registered in this state; or
(5) subject to Subsection (b), in distress or jeopardy.
[/INDENT]

The boarding locations for ships is fairly straight-forward - with tugs and barges things get a bit more complicated.

The biggest factor, as noted by several previous posters, is safety. Historically, it was extremely difficult (unsafe) to board a pilot on to a tug with a barge-on-a-wire proceeding offshore. The tug can’t effectively swing to make a lee as the pilot boat approaches, so the tow was asked to proceed cautiously to a location where the pilot boat could safely transfer the pilot. The ATBs offer a bit more flexibility but there used to be a strong opposition to putting a pilot ladder out on the barge. This reluctance seems to be waning but aren’t we sailors are slow to change our habits?

Ultimately, the pilot is working at the vessel’s request. If you arrive at a port and you aren’t comfortable with the boarding instructions given by the pilot boat, don’t hesitate to challenge it. Use the radio, explain your concern, and seek another solution.

While pilots are viewed as mouthy, cavalier assholes, the simple truth is this - they are charged to protect the waterway on which they are commissioned, and having a vessel pile up on a jetty because they didn’t heed the vessel’s request to be boarded at the actual pilot boarding station isn’t good for anyone’s business. Which is better? Listening to a pissed off pilot for a few hours or having a serious accident?

One other note: when I first started piloting I was told that the most dangerous thing I will do regularly is boarding/disembarking offshore tugs and barges. So far, this statement is very true.

Do you cry like a bitch when the pilot plug doesn’t work & come to find out it’s the pilots hardware not the boats issue?

[QUOTE=WPM;133551]
Ultimately, the pilot is working at the vessel’s request. If you arrive at a port and you aren’t comfortable with the boarding instructions given by the pilot boat, don’t hesitate to challenge it. Use the radio, explain your concern, and seek another solution.
.[/QUOTE]

Good advice, it’s a different ballgame in the Middle East. I’ve agreed to pick up the pilot between buoys 1&2 in a channel too narrow to turn around in. When you reach 1&2 the pilot asks; how about 4&5? …and so on till you’ve taken the ship almost all the way to the turning basin. In M.E.don’t agree to enter the channel unless you’re ready to take it all the way in.

The pilot boat crew in Port Said (Suez Canal) likes to delay putting the pilot on till they get a carton of cigarets. In good conditions you can out wait them.

In lots of ports the problem is inept Port Control. Wait till you see the pilot boat and even then I’ve had them run to the ship behind me with the last available pilot. Some ports might have pilots for the smaller ships but none for the larger ones so you might see ship’s getting pilots but still none available. Better to hang back a bit with a little sea room and delay a few minutes then get in a pickle.