Palm Beach Harbor Pilots Association


General Information
Large Vessel Restrictions
Shoaling Notices
Pilotage Rates
Contact Us

Palm Beach Harbor Pilots
200 E. 13th St. Suite B
Riviera Beach, FL 33404

Voice: 1-561-845-2628


Pilotage is compulsory for foreign-flag vessels and U.S. vessels under register in the foreign trade if drawing seven feet or more of water. Pilotage is optional for U.S. coastwise vessels that have on board a pilot licensed by the Federal Government. Palm Beach Pilots board vessels from a 31' black-hulled, white-housed Pilot boat with the word "PILOT" on the house, in the vicinity of sea buoy "LW". Vessels should maintain a speed of 3-4 knots, with a ladder rigged on the lee side, 1 meter from the water. Pilots monitor VHF channel 14.

The tidal currents are strong at Lake Worth Inlet and must be carefully guarded against. In addition, the strong and northward flowing Gulfstream current maintains a 3-4 knot northerly flow right up to the inlet entrance about 300 days a year.

Due to the narrow width of the Inner Channel, all vessels with a beam of over 100' feet are restricted from entering. The Inner Channel is also restricted to one-way traffic for vessels over 200' feet. The 100' beam restriction may be adjusted to allow cruise ships into the port due to their lighter drafts and advanced maneuvering characteristics.

Consultation with the Palm Beach Pilots Association is mandatory prior to scheduling the arrival or departure of large vessels (defined as vessels with a LOA over 550', or with a beam over 80' or with a draft over 28').

The maximum LOA for cargo vessels arriving at the Port of Palm Beach is generally 620' with a maximum beam not to exceed 100' feet. Outside assist tug(s) of sufficient horsepower and an empty slip may be required if local tug horsepower is not available.

Large vessels entering the Port of Palm Beach may be restricted to slack water and daylight only. All inbound vessels transporting oil products will be restricted to 32' maximum draft at high water slack For all other large inbound deep-draft vessels, the maximum draft is 33' high water slack. Daylight is recommended for inbound vessels 30' feet or more in draft. Large deep-draft vessels drawing 30-33' can depart day or night, but at slack water only. All parameters are based on reasonable weather and normal tidal velocities. Any unusual or extreme conditions will warrant consideration and possible modification to these guidelines.

The dredged cut is subject to shoaling, especially at the north side of the jetty entrance. See Shoaling Notices for any draft restrictions due to shoaling. Consultation with the Palm Beach Pilots Association is mandatory before scheduling the arrival or departure of deep-draft vessels at the Port, to obtain information on the amount and location of shoaling, updated draft restrictions, and expected dredging operations.

Large numbers of recreational boaters frequent the turning basin, the Inner Channel, the Entrance Channel, and areas just outside the inlet entrance at the Port of Palm Beach, especially on weekends and holidays. In addition, there are many commercial and private scuba dive boats drifting or anchored near the channel with divers in the water. Large vessels must keep a sharp lookout and be prepared to alert boaters with appropriate signals should they obstruct the channel. According to the Port of Palm Beach Tariff, anchoring in the entrance channel or turning basin is prohibited and is strictly enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard Station Lake Worth. The Port Security can be contacted on channel 16 prior to entering or departing the Port of Palm Beach. The Pilots monitor channel 14.

Towing Vessels:
Inbound vessels with loaded barges towed on a hawser are strongly recommended to be pushed "in the notch" due to strong currents through the restricted channel with a minimum of one and possibly two assist tugs depending on the conditions. Due to the strong currents and the tight turn between buoy #7 and day beacon #8, it is recommended that inbound vessels towed on a hawser use a towline under 150' in length. Slack water is recommended for loaded barges and underpowered tugs.

For more information regarding larger vessels, please click here.

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