Advice on Ships' Movements
All ships over 37.5 metres entering the harbour take on board a harbour pilot 1 to 2 miles off the port entrance. The pilot cutter will normally precede the vessel into the harbour. Whilst all ships are required to have a pilot on board, he is not in command of the vessel, that responsibility always remains with the Captain of the vessel. The pilot is there to advise the Captain so that the ship navigates safely into the harbour.
Most ships are well found and all their equipment functions correctly however failures and malfunctions in equipment can happen at any time. Skippers of leisure craft must always be alert, always giving ships a wide berth and clear passage as they follow the main ship channel shown on the chart.
Remember that, due to the nature of the port's trade, ships will enter in ballast and high out of the water. This drastically reduces the visibility from the ship and affects the manoeuvring characteristics.
Ships under 90 metres length normally proceed directly to the jetty areas North of Bodinnick ferry unless mooring to the commercial buoys in the lower harbour. Ships over 90 metres length use on tug to turn around in the Swing Ground area. The vessel is then towed stern first to the allocated berth, dragging its anchor. Ships of 100 metres or more use 2 tugs for this operation. The tugs will stand by off the harbour entrance, running alongside the vessel to make fast the tow ropes off Whitehouse Pier. The ship is then turned around in the Swing Ground area and towed stern first to the loading berth.
All small craft must keep well clear of this operation and give wide berth to ships being towed.