FPB 64-3 Iron Lady ‘s “Welcome” To Washington

Pete Rossin and crew have completed another uneventful ocean crossing, 2300 NM in ten pleasant days between Hawaii and Puget Sound. Upon arrival they were forced to use the Washington State Pilots

to dock in Port Angeles so they could check in with US Customs. The cost for this welcome – $1100 for two ten minute boat rides. Unless you are a US flagged vessel, be warned.

Pete has a post on this here.  And another post with photos on the passage here.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 31, 2014)

10 Responses to “FPB 64-3 Iron Lady ‘s “Welcome” To Washington”

  1. Sebastian Says:

    Deja Vu:


    What is it that Governments hate about people travelling by water?

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    This has nothing to do with government policy and everything to do with the Pilot’s Association in Washington State.

  3. RobS Says:

    I’m confused. What authority does the pilots association have to set or enforce regulations, fees and fines except those afforded them by Government authority?

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    They are a politically active group, as are most professional associations, and get the goverment to do their bidding. In this case, as it was explained to us, to make sure the foreigners visiting their geographic region are safe to operate. For which they are paid fees that to into the the pilot’s bank account.
    Think about the paradox here. A foreigner sails his small yacht from overseas, is deemed to be more of a “risk” than a local boat operator. Or, for a large fee, that foreign operater can buy himself an exemption.

  5. Skip N. Says:

    Harbor Pilots have been around as long as there have been commercial shipping. You found someone to show you the safe way into port around the shoals and rocks thus saving your livelihood. Foreign flagged boats were suspect as the locals had no idea of your intentions or skill set are but they trust the pilot will sort things out and they need not worry. Intentions: History bears this out on the east coast. Remember 1776? How about 1812? Skill: Was there a Pilot on the Exxon Valdez? Why do you need a pilot to go thru the Panama Canal? You pay for the local knowledge. Local gov’ts don’t want to be bothered so they legally delegate to the local experts. They also benefit financially.

    Now where do you draw the line as to who is required to take a pilot? Length? Tonnage? Commercial? American flagged with non American crew? Foreign flagged with American crew? Licensed captain? Visiting boat? All of the above? None? How about Grey Wolf. Tired and unfamiliar with the harbor they couldn’t find the dock so they anchored out and the rozzers showed up unsure of Grey Wolfs intentions even though they are fellow countrymen.

    I think any time the locals dip there hand into your wallet and we think it is excessive we get upset and look to vent. Right or wrong?

  6. Steve Dashew Says:

    No, SKip, respectfully we disagree. If you are good enough to find your way to Washington from a country other than Canada, there is no way on a small yacht you can justify the need for a pilot. In the case of Iron Lady we are talking a five minute ride from outside Port Angeles to the dock.
    The Panama Canal pilots are there to coordinate with other shipping, scheduling, talk to the line handlers in the various locks, and warn cruisers about thrust off tugs, ships, and currents at the lock boundaries. And their fee comes from the cost of the Panama Canal transit. And the Exxon Valdez is a tanker and does not being to compare to a small yacht.
    We have nothing but respect for pilots who work big ships, with foreign crews, needing to understand the handling characteristics of a variety of different vessels, and maneuver them in extremely tight spaces, often with language barriers between themselves and the crew. And then there is getting on and off the ships and the risks this entails. The skills this takes are enormous.
    That said, we’d bet most pilots would be embarrassed at requiring small yachts to use their services.
    If tere are other opinions on this subject we’d love to hear them.

  7. RobS Says:

    Right that was my point, yes the a pilots Association may have lobbied for it, but without the government policy they have no power to enforce regulations, fees or fines, therefore the mandate is entirely related to government policy and any campaign against it for small yachts should be directed at the government. It seems fairly obvious that this has a marked effect on decisions by cruising yachts on destinations, a group of people with a not insignificant amount of disposable cash to spend in said destinations.

  8. sarah-sarah Says:


    Why did you not go to Victoria, BC or Sidney after being told you required a pilot to enter a US port? I agree with your feelings on this matter and am sorry our country is so short sighted!(to put it
    more kindly than deserved).

    Bill Henry.

  9. Skip N. Says:

    It is not a US law. It is Washington State law. As a Washingtonian you, and Buffalo Nickle’s owners, should contact your elected state rep, express your disgust and request the law be changed. The revolution has to start somewhere.

  10. Pete Rossin Says:

    Hi Bill:

    If I had known about the issues, I would have cleared out of the US in Hawaii and proceeded directly to Canada under quarantine and cleared in there. As it was, I did not clear out in Hawaii and I was, therefore, still cleared in to the US upon arrival in Puget Sound. CBP in Hawaii gave me very specific instructions that I was to clear out of the US before proceeding to Canada.

    Frankly, if I hadn’t had my AIS on and talked to Vessel Traffic, I am sure I could have gone in to Port Angeles without a pilot – they simply wouldn’t have known I was even there. I also could have possibly gone to Friday or Roche Harbour and cleared out of the US.

    The truly sad part is that ANY foreign vessel (other then Canadian or US flag) is TECHNICALLY required to have a pilot aboard – even a 20 foot skiff with a 9 horse outboard. We know a fair number of cruisers who would probably have to sell their vessel to pay the bill.

    Now that I know…………..