Q: Why do I need a Pilot or Pilotage Waiver for my yacht?
The simple answer is that for large yachts, "Every vessel over 350 gross tons that is not a pleasure craft and every pleasure craft over 500 gross tons is subject to compulsory pilotage [in BC waters] (General Pilotage Regulations (SOR/2000-132) DIVISION 4 Pacific Pilotage Authority Region Ships Subject to Compulsory Pilotage 25.9 (1)).
So, whether chartered or personal, regulations for large yachts require either a Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA) Pilot or an "Approved Navigation Officer" that holds a waiver granted by the PPA to be onboard and have conduct of the vessel while it is in compulsory pilotage waters. However, beyond the simple regulations, BC coastal waters are incredibly complex and prone to extreme tidal and current conditions. Having a Pilot or Pilotage Waiver Holder onboard provides an additional layer of local knowledge that can help mitigate risk for operators not familiar with our waters. As well, Pilotage Waiver Holders can provide local advice and guidance for both on-water or shore activities including whale watching, bear viewing areas, and much more.
Q: What are compulsory pilotage waters?
Compulsory pilotage waters are designated waters in which ships are subject to compulsory pilotage. For further information go to https://ppa.gc.ca/compulsory-pilotage-areas
Q: How much do Pilotage Waiver Holders charge?
Fundamentally, that depends on the Waiver Holder. Although there is no specific set rate or tariff, most Waiver Holders will charge a daily rate based on the overall length of the vessel. Your best bet is to either work through an agent that will negotiate a rate for the vessel or call RMS directly for a quote. Daily rates may vary depending on the length of the voyage. Additional costs for transportation to and from the vessel should be agreed upon beforehand.
Q: How do I arrange a Waiver for my vessel?
Ideally, the vessel's representative or owner can apply directly to the Pacific Pilotage Authority at https://ppa.gc.ca to request a waiver or you can contact RMS and we can assist you in the process.
Q: Where does the Pilotage Waiver Holder embark and disembark?
Pilotage Waiver Holders must be onboard the vessel before they enter compulsory pilotage waters. If the vessel is coming from a port in Washington state or Alaska, the Waiver Holder may join the vessel in US waters and transit with the vessel into Canadian waters. If the vessel is coming from offshore or ports further north or south, the vessel will be required to board a PPA Pilot at one of the designated pilotage boarding stations. The PPA Pilot will then conduct the vessel to its first Canadian Port of Call to clear customs and embark a Waiver Holder. The reverse is required for disembarking a Waiver Holder. Again, if the vessel is proceeding to sea other than a Washington state or Alaskan destination, the vessel will need to board a PPA Pilot at the last Canadian Port of Call or anchorage and they will depart the vessel at a designated pilotage station.
Again, it is recommended to contact RMS directly for discussion as to which option is preferable for the vessel.
Q: How long can Waiver Holders work if I want to transit directly to Alaska?
Pilotage Waiver Holders, like PPA Pilots, are restricted in how long they can be on watch. The limits as set out by the PPA for Pilotage Waiver Holders are "not permitted to exceed eight (8) hours on continuous bridge watch" and the distance of a single transit should not exceed 105 nautical miles. For vessels transiting directly to Alaska, the option exists to have two (2) Waiver Holders onboard working six (6) hours on/six (6) hours off. Vessels applying for a Pilotage Waiver should take these factors into consideration when developing a passage plan.