Harbor Pilotage

Portland Harbor, at the western end of Casco Bay, is the most important port on the coast of Maine. The ice-free harbor offers secure anchorage to deep draft vessels in all weather. There is considerable domestic and foreign commerce in petroleum products, paper, wood pulp, scrap metal, coal, salt and containerized goods. It is also the Atlantic terminus pipeline for shipments of crude oil to Montreal and Ontario. In 1998, Portland became the largest port in the Northeast based on throughput tonnages. 

A rail system connects the Port to a national network that also reaches into Canada, one of the reasons shippers bypass the crowded and more costly port cities of southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic.

Pilots board 1.0 nautical mile north of the ELN Racon "PAPA" buoy at position 43-31.6 North and 70-05.5 West. Portland Pilots monitor VHF 16 and 11 and can be reached at Tel: (207) 774-5623, FAX: (207) 774-5683. Pilotage is compulsory for all foreign vessels and US vessels under register in the foreign trade drawing over nine feet. Pilotage is optional for coastwise or fishing vessels under enrollment or license who have onboard a pilot licensed by the Federal Government. The Pilot boats are black-hulled with a white superstructure with the word PILOT on both sides. One is 48 feet LOA and the other is 65 feet LOA. Vessels are requested to provide 48 and 24 hours notice of ETA and to update any appreciable changes. The pilots do not maintain the boat on station. Distance from the pilot station to the inner harbor is approximately 10 miles.

Length over all (feet) x Beam (feet) x Moulded Depth (feet)/ 10,000 x $6.04 each way. Minimum charge is $604.00 each way.

Deep laden vessels (over 28' draft) normally anchor in the "B" or Diamond Island Roads anchorage. Light vessels, barges, and recreational boats may anchor in the "A" anchorage off Fish Point. Both anchorages lie in the inner harbor and are well-protected.

Vessels effecting repairs, seeking refuge, or conducting other business may also proceed under pilot to the Hussey Sound Upper Casco Bay anchorage area. Deep draft (45') crude carriers awaiting tide for berthing may elect to anchor offshore approximately 1.0 nautical miles north of the ELN Racon buoy "P."


Towage is provided by the following companies:

Portland Tugboat & Ship Docking Company
Tel: (207) 774-2902
Fax: (207) 338-3001

Winslow Tugs
Tel: (207) 780-8847

Towage is not mandatory, however, if requested, a docking master will be required to direct the vessel's movements in berthing and un-berthing operations. Tugs normally meet vessels at the "PH" harbor entrance buoy if continuing on for berthing.

All vessels operating in Portland Harbor must have a Pilot on board. Under recently instituted rules of the Portland Harbor Commissioners, Docking Master rates and procedures are regulated. All vessels requiring tug services in berthing are required to have a Docking Master onboard.

The following firms provide this service: 

           Portland Docking Pilots      207-774-2902


Length overall (in feet) x extreme breadth x moulded depth = Pilot units 10,000
Moulded depth=Depth to Uppermost Continuous Deck



salt, scrap, gypsum, etc.

Extreme breadth less than 80 ft.
Per pilotage Unit$2.45$2.25$2.50

Extreme breadth 80 ft. and over
Per Pilotage Unit$2.45$3.25$2.50

(newsprint, tapioca, pulp, lumber, etc.)

Extreme breadth less than 86 ft.
Per pilotage Unit$2.25$2.25$2.50

Extreme breadth 86 ft. and over
Per Pilotage Unit$2.25$3.25$2.50

Minimum Charge on all of the above$500.00$500.00$500.00


Extreme breadth less than 86 ft.
Per pilotage Unit$2.45$2.25$2.50

Extreme breadth 86 ft and over
Per Pilotage Unit$2.45$3.25$2.50

Minimum Charge on all of the above$500.00$500.00$500.00


1.Double rates shall be charged to all vessels and barges for: stern-in docking, docking, or undocking above Portland Bridge and Central Maine Power (AKA, Florida Power and Light), Cousins Island between sunset and sunrise, and shifting vessels with no power.

2.Anchoring vessels after undocking  additional charge of $.40 per Pilotage unit  minimum charge $75.00.

3.For delays or cancellations due to conditions beyond Pilot's control  additional charge of $100.00 per hour or fraction thereof.