Embarking and disembarking of Columbia River Bar Pilots is accomplished by helicopter or boat. The primary method of pilot boarding is by helicopter. The Columbia River Bar Pilots also keep one of two pilot boats on standby at all times.
Vessels should not approach the CR Buoy until advised by a pilot. Pilots boarding by helicopter will generally board within four to 10 miles northwest to southwest of the CR Buoy (Columbia River Entrance Buoy). Boarding by pilot boat generally takes place in the vicinity of the CR buoy.
Operations will be in accordance with ICAO regulations and with the International Chamber of Shipping’s Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations rules.
The pilot helicopter SEAHAWK is 42.5 feet (12.96m) long with a rotor span of 35.5 feet (10.83m) and has a yellow body with the word PILOT prominently displayed on the side. Vessel configuration, sea state and wind force will determine if a hoist or landing will be conducted. To provide the highest degree of safety for boarding, the master may be requested to alter course or speed of the vessel, if safe to do so. The objective is to provide minimum roll of the vessel at the time of transfer.
- After initial contact, the arriving vessel shall call the Columbia River Bar Pilots on VHF channel 9 when 15 miles from the CR Buoy.
- Pilot helicopter SEAHAWK will be dispatched to the vessel with the marine pilot.
- The arriving vessel must remain on VHF channel 9 for helicopter operations until the marine pilot is safely transferred and the helicopter has departed the area.
Masters, prior to helicopter arrival, must confirm the following:
- Check that no wires or aerials are above the helicopter maneuvering zone.
- Check that no loose objects are in or near the helicopter maneuvering zone.
- At night, the vessel should be illuminated with all available deck lighting, but not in such a way as to blind the helicopter crew. Deck lights must remain ON until the helicopter has departed the area.
- Assisting crewman should wear eye protective goggles.
- Camera flash equipment must not be used, as it will interfere with the helicopter crew’s night vision.
- If requested by the helicopter pilot, switch the ship’s radar to "stand-by."
- DO NOT CHANGE COURSE OR SPEED unless instructed by the helicopter.
- If conditions are rough, a trail/tag line may be used.
- The vessel crew tending the trail line must ensure that the line is not tied to the vessel and does not become fouled with the vessel.
- The vessel crew tending the trail line shall use it to guide the marine pilot to the intended hoist area using only enough force to stabilize and keep the pilot from swinging into hazards.
- The trail line, when used, must NOT be fastened to the vessel.
- All vessel crew assisting with the transfer must remain clear of the designated helicopter maneuvering zone.
- No vessel crew should ever approach the helicopter unless directed.
- Never pass in back or in front of the helicopter while it approaches or is on deck.
If the arriving vessel is advised that the pilot boat will be used for pilot transfer, one of two boats will be used:
|The pilot boat ASTORIA, which is 72 feet long with a yellow hull and yellow superstructure with the word PILOT prominently displayed on the side of the house|
|The pilot boat COLUMBIA, which is 72 feet long with an orange hull and orange superstructure with the word PILOT prominently displayed on the side of the house|
When either the ASTORIA or the COLUMBIA is used, the speed of the vessel should be approximately 12 knots.
General Ladder Requirements:
- The pilot ladder should be rigged two meters above the waterline. The ladder should be rigged on the side instructed by the pilot boat, as close to midship as possible, and clear of all discharges and obstructions.
- On arriving vessels, no man-ropes should be rigged. On departing vessels, man-ropes should be rigged at the direction of the bar pilot.
- The ladder must be rigged in accordance with SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements, and must be well lighted at night. When regulations require a combination ladder, the rigid ladder platform must be at least five to seven meters above the water. A heaving line and a ring buoy with self-igniting light must also be provided. Click the image above for an enlarged PDF version of the boarding arrangements poster.
When transferring pilots off Astoria, the pilot boat ARROW 2 is used. It is 53 feet long with a dark green hull and white superstructure. The word PILOT is prominently displayed on a signboard forward of the house. When using the ARROW 2, the pilot ladder should be rigged midship, one meter above the waterline, in accordance with SOLAS requirements. Maximum speed of the vessel should be 9 knots.
In the interest of safety of all state pilots and of the crews navigating the waters of Oregon, the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots endorses and supports the rigging of pilot ladders to meet the international requirements of SOLAS regulations.