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


This information is to help clarify our parameters as to what size, beam, and draft that vessels may transit the Port of Palm Beach. A synopsis of our guidelines is listed below, however, it is impossible to foresee each scenario. When a vessel is calling on the Port for the first time, the Pilots must be contacted before scheduling vessels that are either 550' LOA or greater, 85' or over in beam, or over 28' in draft. The Pilots should be contacted at least 72 hours prior to arrival for all other vessels calling on the Port for the first time to discuss any tug or docking requirements that may affect the vessel.

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 LOA. The 100' beam restriction may be adjusted to allow cruise ships into the port due to their lighter drafts and advanced maneuvering characteristics.

The maximum salt-water draft is 33'-00" for the Port of Palm Beach when the channel and turning basin are free from shoaling. During periods when shoaling is present, further restrictions beyond what is stated below might be applied to the length, draft, and beam.

Vessels 600' LOA or greater, or a beam of 90' or greater, or a draft of 30' or greater, will enter only during daylight hours.

Vessels within 3 feet of maximum allowable draft are restricted to high water slack.

Vessels over 550' LOA or greater may be restricted to maneuvering during daylight slack water depending upon the draft of the vessel and the current weather conditions.

Our experience and with discussions with the local tug operators have shown that the when the combined beams of two adjacent vessels exceed 155 feet in the south slip, and 145 feet in the center slip, there is limited room for the tugs to operate safely and effectively. Therefore, we must limit the combined beams within the slips to reflect the above maximums. All vessels may expect delays when this situation occurs.

Agents of vessels using the South Slip with a draft of 31' feet or more should contact the Port for the latest soundings of that slip prior to arrival.

Vessels less than 550' LOA and 85' beam with 50 feet of clearance in the slip can be safely handled using the local tugs under most weather conditions. When vessels exceed this size or when the weather deteriorates, we have found that it may be necessary to restrict the draft in order to improve the maneuvering of the vessel. Briefly, the reasons for this are; the strength of the Gulf Stream at the mouth of the inlet and the width of the turn in the inner channel.

Single screw vessels over 550' LOA may require a third local tug in adverse weather conditions.

Twin-screw ships, and single screw vessels fitted with thrusters, may not have all of the restrictions that are listed above depending upon the handling characteristics of the vessel. The Pilots should be contacted regarding such vessels.

Additional recommendations for Oil Tankers and Barges
It is recommended that all inbound tank vessels carrying oil products transit during slack water for safety reasons. Flood tides should be avoided at all times. The maximum draft for oil is 32'-00" unless limited by the above parameters or shoaling. Daylight is recommended for inbound drafts over 30' feet. Oil tank vessels under 25' draft may sail on any tide when pushing ahead, weather permitting. Barges over 90' beam should not be towed until the Inner Channel turn is widened.

Additional Information for Cruise Ships at Berth #2:
The Cruise Ship Berth is 700 feet long with Yokohama type fendering. Cargo vessels docked on the opposite side of the berth may limit the width of this slip from 250 feet to 170 feet.

Ebb and flood currents flow across the entrance of the Cruise Slip making docking and undocking difficult for poor handling vessels. Newer cruise ships with azipods, or twin screw / twin rudder type designs and strong bow thrusters can maneuver through these currents if winds are favorable. Less maneuverable vessels may have to wait for slack water and/or use tugs. Strong storms, northeasters, and heavy ground swell and hurricanes make the Channel Entrance to the Port impassable at times for larger cruise vessels.

It has been and will continue to be the decision of the Port of Palm Beach on what vessels will have priority and to which berths they will be assigned. We will continue to work with the staff at the Port of Palm Beach in order to fully utilize the Port. Please contact the Port and the Pilots for further information before considering vessels for charter within the parameters specified above.

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