Pilot Boarding Requirements

Prior to pilot boarding, Masters shall

  1. Ensure that the ETA and deepest draft is sent to Port Phillip Sea Pilots Pty Ltd by Fax (03) 52581952, or e-mail operations@ppsp.com.au 24 hours before arrival.
  2. Changes in ETA of more than one (1) hour should be amended immediately, and the final ETA must be confirmed four (4) hours before arrival
  3. Establish V.H.F. contact 'Port Phillip Sea Pilots' V.H.F. Procedure as soon as possible and not less than three (4) hours before ETA.
  4. Rig ladder in accordance with International Regulations, on side advised by Pilot Station
  5. Ensure that all pilot ladder equipment is kept in first class condition and to have it inspected regularly,
  6. Ensure that the ladder and manropes are securely made fast. Serious accidents have occurred through inattention to these matters. Should the equipment and the manner in which it is rigged not be satisfactory, pilotage services may be withheld.
  7. Navigate vessel to correct boarding ground position and follow directions given by pilot launch.
  8. Note that pilots embark and disembark from high-speed launches. All communication with Pilot Launch to be on VHF Ch 09.

Important Point To Remember

PilotBoarding.gif Make a good lee for the pilot launch with the wind and sea well abaft the beam on the weather side, and a speed of about ten (10) knots for Port Phillip and seven (7) knots for Westernport.

Listen for other orders from the launch.

Pilot Boarding Grounds

The pilot boarding ground for Port Phillip lies five (5) miles south-west from the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse (refer Charts AUS143 and AUS144).


At Western Port, the boarding ground is 3.5 miles due south of West Head (weather permitting). In bad weather, vessels up to 9.75 metres draft may use an alternative position two (2) miles East of the jetty in Flinders Bight, (refer Chart AUS156).


Check communications procedures before approaching.

Pilot V.H.F. Procedure

The Control Station at Queenscliff is manned 24 hours by Master Pilots. VHF watch is maintained on Channels 16 and 12.

At Westernport, Channels 16 and 14 are monitored.

Contact should be made at earliest opportunity and at least three (3) hours prior to arrival at boarding ground. Initial contact should be made on Channel 16 by calling 'Port Phillip Sea Pilots'. Please give position, course and speed and ETA at Pilot Boarding Ground.

Following the initial contact a listening watch should then be kept on Channel 12 for any further instructions regarding boarding.

The pilot launch will make direct contact when abeam of Point Lonsdale or West Head outward bound. Final boarding orders will be made from the launch on Channel 09.

Requirements For Embarkation and Disembarkation Of Pilots
  1. The pilot ladder (see poster below) constructed and rigged in accordance with IMO requirements and IMPA recommendations, (see Chapter V, Regulation 23 of SOLAS for pilot ladders). The ladder should be clean, properly fitted with spreaders, well clear of all discharges and outlets, and all outboard fittings which might foul the pilot launch. The distance that the bottom of the ladder is to be above the water will be advised by the pilot launch. The distance from the waterline to the point of access must not exceed nine (9) metres.
  2. Where a combination ladder arrangement is required, the accommodation ladder must be secured to the ship’s side, leading aft, and must include a lower horizontal platform no lower than 5 metres above the sea.   
  3. Two (2) clean manila manropes of not less than 28mm. diameter and not more than 32mm. diameter are to securely made fast to the ship, and must not be made fast to the ladder at any point. The manropes must not be longer than the ladder.
  4. Where the ladder is rigged over a bulwark, two (2) stanchions are to be securely fitted in the top of the bulwark, one on each side of the ladder, and steps are to be provided from the top of the ladder to the deck.
  5. A heaving line is to be provided for mail and the pilot's bag.
  6. By night a bright light is to be provided, shaded to show downward and forward but clearly illuminate the ladder and ship's side.
  7. Tripping lines and boat ropes are not to be used.
  8. An officer should be in attendance at the ladder, with life-saving appliances ready for immediate use. The officer must also have a Portable Radio for immediate communication with the bridge.
  9. For more detail, please see the attached shipping industry guidance brochure here.

Pilot Boarding Arrangements Poster.jpg