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SUMMARY OF EXEMPTION FROM MANDATORY PILOTAGE
(Puget Sound and Grays Harbor)
As provided in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Section 88.16.070, every vessel in the Puget Sound Pilotage District - all Washington (WA) waters east of 123° 24’ W - or the Grays Harbor Pilotage District – the waters of Grays and Willapa Harbors - is subject to compulsory WA pilotage unless exempt. The WA waters of the Columbia River Bar and the Columbia River are subject to the pilotage laws and rules set by the State of Oregon.
Some vessels are automatically exempt as provided in the RCW. These include:
1. Any U.S. flag vessel on a voyage in which it is operating exclusively on its coastwise, fishery, and/or recreational (pleasure) endorsement.
2. Any U.S. or Canadian flag vessel engaged exclusively in the coasting (coastwise) trade on the west coast of the Continental United States(including Alaska) and/or British Columbia (BC).
3. Any flag vessel in/outbound to/from Canadian ports which employs a pilot licensed by the Pacific Pilotage Authority (BC Pilots); uses the CVTS; and has appropriate charts (within certain geographic limits).
Note regarding automatic exemption:
A U.S. flag vessel on a foreign voyage (not including BC) is not automatically exempt from WA pilotage (i.e. a vessel sailing under a registry endorsement), but certain such vessels may apply for an exemption.
Some vessels that are not automatically exempt may apply for a Board-approved exemption (including payment of a fee) as provided in the RCW. These include:
1. Any foreign flag small passenger vessel not more than 1,300 GT (ITC) and not more than 200 feet in overall length, is manned by US-licensed deck and engine officers appropriate to the size of the vessel with merchant mariner credentials issued by the U.S.C.G. or Canadian deck and engine officers with Canadian-issued certificates of competency appropriate to the size of the vessel, and is operated exclusively in the waters of the Puget Sound Pilotage District and lower B.C.
2. Any foreign flag yacht not more than 1,300 GT (ITC) and not more than 200 feet in overall length.
A vessel that is under “bare boat” charter (or any form of charter in which the charterer has complete control of the vessel, e.g. by covering all costs of the vessel including master and crew at the charterer’s expense) is considered a yacht for the purpose of determining eligibility for a Board-approved exemption if it is operated only for recreation/pleasure; does not engage in trade; and meets the tonnage and length requirements.
Notes regarding Board-approved exemption: