To schedule/arrange for a Canaveral Pilot to attend your vessel call the Port Canaveral Harbor Master at (321) 302-2756. Arriving vessels should contact the Canaveral Pilots on VHF 12 one hour before arrival at the pilot station to confirm their ETA.  The pilot boarding area is 1 to 2 nautical miles southeast of buoys 3 and 4.

Please note:  Arriving vessels that cannot meet their scheduled ETA must notify the Canaveral Port Authority Harbormaster at least one hour before their scheduled ETA to avoid delay charges. Departing vessels that cannot meet their scheduled ETD must notify the Canaveral Port Authority Harbormaster at least one hour before the scheduled ETD to avoid delay charges.

Vessels calling at Army, Military Sealift Command, Navy, or Space Force berths should contact the Pilots directly at 321-783-4645 or by email or VHF.  The Pilot Office is not manned 24/7.  If unable to raise the Pilots on VHF, hail the Harbormaster or use the 24-Hour Monitored Phone Line/Voicemail at 321-783-4645.

Arrivals Require a 24-Hour Notice  •  Departures Require a 2-Hour Notice


There are no officially designated anchorage areas offshore of Port Canaveral. However, vessels arriving from offshore may find a safe anchorage in the general vicinity of one mile south of Approach Channel Lighted Buoy 3. Deep draft vessels generally anchor in deeper water further offshore from this area. A vessel anchoring shall ensure that its anchored position will not impede the safe progress of other vessels transiting to and from the Approach Channel or obstruct the lighted ranges (leading lights) marking the centerline.


The maximum allowable draft for vessels calling at Port Canaveral is 40″ 00″.  A vessel with a draft that does not exceed 38′ 00″ may transit the channels and basins at any time and stage of the tide. Vessels that have a draft in excess of 38″ 00″ are considered “tide jobs” and will be advised by the Harbormaster and Canaveral Pilots of the time of boarding with consideration given to the stage of the tide. These vessels are generally scheduled to begin an inbound transit two hours prior to high tide.  A minimum under keel clearance of one meter is required during the transit of the channels and basins.  A list of maximum drafts for each Canaveral Port Authority berth is available at the port website at  The Canaveral Port Authority requires vessels to maintain a minimum under keel clearance of six inches when alongside the berth.


The working frequency for the Canaveral Pilots Association is channel 12 VHF. Vessels may attempt to contact the Pilots on channels 16 and 12. Vessels with a Pilot onboard will at appropriate intervals give a security call on channels 12, 13, and 16. Pilots will work tugs assisting in maneuvering vessels on channels 12 and 18A. All fishing vessels and other vessels without pilots aboard should monitor channel 12 while in the port area.


Pilots board inbound vessels one mile southeast of Approach Channel Lighted Buoys 3 & 4. Deep draft vessels and large Cruise Ships are boarded from one and a half to two miles southeast of Approach Channel Lighted Buoys 3 & 4.  Pilots disembark outbound vessels in the vicinity of Approach Channel Lighted Buoys 7 & 8 to buoys 5 & 6, and may disembark large or deep draft vessels after Approach Channel Lighted Buoys 3 & 4 are passed outbound.  Pilot boarding speed is 6 to 8 knots.


Vessels calling at Port Canaveral will be required to use two tugs of sufficient bollard pull for docking and undocking.  A working bow thruster of sufficient horsepower may be used in lieu of one of the required tugs.  A vessel with a draft of over 36’ 00” or high-windage cargo vessels will be required to use at least two tugs and for vessels over 38’ 00” draft at least one of the tugs must be a tractor or ASD tug.  A third tug may be used to ensure sufficient available bollard pull.  Cruise ships with bow thrusters, stern thrusters and/or azipod propulsion, small vessels, and other vessels recognized as having superior handling characteristics, may be exempted from tug requirements at the pilot’s discretion. Vessels deemed to have below average handling characteristics, those with non functioning equipment, or those operating in any condition where the pilot requires additional safety margin may have additional requirements and restrictions imposed at the pilot’s discretion. As of October 2021, Port Canaveral has two tractor tugs permanently stationed at the port.  It is expected that these two tugs will be sufficient for most traffic calling at the port.  For any situations where a third tug may be required such as Captain of the Port orders, dead ship tows, unusual vessel characteristics, or other extenuating circumstances, arrangements will need to be made with the tug service providers to make an additional tug available.


Very large passenger vessels transit the harbor on a regularly scheduled basis and experience has shown that inadequately moored vessels and/or vessels that do not continually tend their lines are subject to surge. It is the responsibility of the berthed vessel to comply with the Canaveral Port Authority rules for mooring. During periods of high winds when passenger vessels must maintain adequate speed for control, additional precautions may be necessary and should be taken to alleviate vessel surge.