Boarding arrangements



  • For domestic trade, pilot waters are defined by 46 CFR 7.65 and include the harbor and out to three miles offshore.  For international trade, pilot waters are defined by Title 54 of the South Carolina State Law and include the harbor and the ship channel out to 15 miles offshore.  Pilots are required when a vessel is underway in those waters.
  • Boardings (embarking pilot) are normally done in the vicinity of Pilot Station A / Buoy “C” for drafts greater than 36 feet, and in the vicinity of the Pilot Station B / Buoy “6” for all others.
  • Disembarkations are made whenever a vessel shall depart the Pilot Waters en route to sea.
  • Pilots carry personal VHF transceivers.  Please hail pilots on VHF Channel 16.  Other channels monitored include 13 (for communications between vessels) and 14 (for communications with the Pilot Office).

Instructions for boarding ladders:

      • Vessel speed should be 8 to 10 knots unless otherwise directed by the pilot.
      • Head the vessel so that the pilot may embark or disembark on the lee side, away from the seas.
      • Rig the pilot ladder with spreaders in accordance with SOLAS Regulations.
      • The ladder must be in good repair.  A sturdy and clean pilot ladder is appreciated by your pilot.
      • Position the ladder approximately 2 to 2.5 meters, or about 8 feet, above the water.  Allow no slack in the ladder on the deck.
      • No boat rope or man ropes are required.
      • No line or unmoused sister hooks shall be attached to the foot of the ladder.
      • At night, provide a brilliant light shining forward, and so as not to shine into the pilot boat operator’s eyes, to illuminate the ladder.
      • Attend the ladder with an officer equipped with a radiotelephone to communicate with the ship’s bridge.  Provide an escort to and from the bridge.
      • Have a ring buoy, and at night a float light, ready to toss overboard immediately in case the pilot falls.