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Ordering Pilots

Vessels and agents should call to schedule pilots well in advance of arrival or departure to minimize the risk of delays due to other scheduled traffic or tide and current restrictions.


Vessels are requested to report their estimated time of arrival (ETA) to St. Johns Lighted RACON Buoy (STJ), and their deepest fresh water draft, by radio to the pilot station at least 2 hours and again 1 hour prior to their arrival at the sea bouy.  The pilot station will confirm start in time and requested side for pilot ladder.  The pilot station monitors VHF ch. 16 & 13 and Pilots work chnls 14 and 17.  Vessels bound for Naval Station Mayport should contact Mayport Harbor Control on VHF ch 12.


Pilot boarding area is a half (1/2) mile East of buoy STJ.

Pilot ladder shall be rigged in accordance with SOLAS Regulation 17, Chapter V, on the ship’s lee side, the lowest rung 3 meters, (10 feet) above the water.

Requested boarding speed is 8-10 knots through the water.

Navigational Cautions:

Main Channel
Air-Draft Limits:

Blount Island Overhead Power Cables: 175′
Broward (Dames Point) Bridge: 169′  (174’ for center 400’)
Mathews Bridge: 148′
Hart Bridge: 135′ (141’ at center)
Main Street Bridge: 135′ open;   40′  closed

Main Channel
Operational Draft Limits:

Sea to Talleyrand Terminals:  40’’ (12.18m)
Talleyrand to Main St Bridge: 31′ 6″ (9.59m)

Draft Restrictions

Deep draft vessels may be restricted in their boarding and sailing times due to tide and tidal current conditions. These times are based on the current at the St. Johns River entrance. To see the current draft restrictions please contact the Pilot Station for information.

Docking and Undocking Restrictions

Due to the unique characteristics of the following facilities, it is necessary to establish specific times for the docking and undocking of vessels.

Inbound: All shipyard berths, Gate Maritime Terminal, U.S. Gypsum Company berth.
Outbound: U.S. Gypsum Company berth, and certain vessels sailing from berths in the West Channel.

Approach and Entrance to the Port of Fernandina

The St Mary’s Entrance is marked offshore by the “STM” Buoy in location 30 Degrees 42.9 Minutes North and 81 Degrees 14.6 Minutes West.

The Port of Fernandina is along the East bank of the Amelia River approximately 1.75 NM above the channel Entrance. The Port is operated by Nassau Terminals.


Fernandina Pilots monitor channel VHF-FM 16 and work channel VHF-FM 11. Arriving vessels should contact Fernandina Pilots 2 Hours and 1 hour prior to arrival.

Dispatch and administrative offices for the Fernandina Pilots are maintained by the St. Johns Bar Pilot Association at 4910 Ocean Street, Mayport, Florida 32233; telephone 904-249-5631, fax 904-249-7523. The pilot station monitors VHF-FM 11,13,14, and 16 and works 11 and 14.

ETA may be sent by email to

Anchorage Location

Vessels may anchor 1.0 NM North of buoys “1” and “2”.


Pilotage for the Port of Fernandina is compulsory for all foreign vessels and U.S. vessels under register in foreign trade and drawing more than 7 feet of water.

Pilot Boarding Arrangements

  1. Ships with a maximum draft of LESS than 7.0 m are boarded 0.5 nm North of Buoy #6. Vessels are to remain North of the buoyed channel while approaching the pilot boarding area.
  2. Ships with a draft of 7.0 m or more are boarded East of Buoys #1 and #2 near the “STM” Buoy.
  3. Pilot ladder is rigged on best lee side, 1 Meter above the water. Six knots vessel speed is required for boarding. No Manropes to be fitted.

Pilot Boat

The Fernandina Pilots utilize an all-weather 35 Foot boat with a black hull and a white superstructure.


Tugboats are arranged through vessel agents and require 24 hour notice prior to arrival.

Draft Restrictions

Vessels are limited to 34 Feet of draft. The pilot must be consulted prior to vessel movements over 30 feet.

Tugs and Barges

Inbound tugs and barges are strongly recommended to make up alongside the barge in the vicinity of Fort Clinch prior to entering the Amelia River. Outbound tugs and barges are encouraged to transit the Amelia River on flood tide. If transiting outbound on ebb tide, the barge should be made up alongside.

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