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Southern Gulf Island Anchorages

EDITEDMAPX2With the current levels of congestion in the Port of Vancouver, more and more vessels are finding themselves vacating or avoiding local anchorages all together in lieu of Island Anchorages. The benefits of bringing vessels here right from arrival are that we can avoid the risk of extra shifting costs from local anchorages if waiting times exceed 7 days (which is the maximum guaranteed by the Harbour Master). This means that after 7 days, if inbound vessels are looking for space in English Bay, the vessel may be forced to leave and will be assigned a Remote Island Anchorage (thus incurring extra pilotage costs). The assignment process was changed in 2018 in a joint venture between the Port of Vancouver and Transport Canada, whereas agents used to have a say in which Island Anchorage the vessel would proceed to – the anchorage assignment process is now done through an automatic system. Obviously if we as agents have confidence that the vessel’s wait will not exceed 7 days prior to berthing, or congestion levels are low enough that we are confident the vessel will not be asked to vacate prior to berthing, then we will do our best to secure a local English Bay Anchorage. The problem with the randomization of the anchorage assignment process relates to the piloting order rules for grain vessels and transit times from these anchorages which varies based on which anchorage we are assigned. In the table below, you will see that some of these anchorages are quite far from Vancouver, pilot ordering times varies on which anchorage the vessel is at as their dispatchers have to account for the pilots transit time to get to the vessel. When a terminal calls a vessel to berth, they now have to liaise with the agent to consider both the time required to get a new pilot order (sometimes as long as 15 hours before the order time!) and the transit time from that particular anchorage (sometimes 8 hours + to get to the berth), when a terminal is subject to tidal restrictions, this can get even more complex. As you may imagine, this can create a headache for all parties when attempting to minimize idle time at the berth without incurring extra costs for late cancellation times or pilotage over hours costs (times when transit is over 8 hours). Furthermore, factors such as launch costs for the pilots and availability of Island based CFIA and Transport Canada inspectors can further complicate this issue when agents are trying to set up the most efficient and practical arrival of an inbound vessel. For more information, see the below chart which include approximate distances and transit times of various Remote Island Anchorages, please keep in mind these are approximates only and can often be affected by weather. To further illustrate, please see the above map with the positions of the Southern Gulf Island Anchorages, for reference – the Port of Vancouver is located to the top and right which is just out of the map borders.

*VPS refers to Victoria Pilot Station in the below table