Pilot Requirements for Yachts

Both New York and New Jersey Law require certain foreign flag yachts to take a state-licensed Sandy Hook Pilot when entering or departing the Port and transiting applicable state waters. The various state requirements are provided below for your information. Please direct any questions concerning these requirements to our Operations Manager at 718-448-3900 Ext. 213 during normal business hours. Please note that, in addition to entering from sea via Ambrose, yachts entering or departing the Port of New York/New Jersey via the East River and Long Island Sound must also take a state pilot. The Sandy Hook Pilots embark and disembark vessels transiting the East River near Execution Rocks at the western terminus of Long Island Sound.

Ordering a Pilot

Orders for arriving vessels, including yachts, must be placed no less the 24 hours prior to arrival at pilot station. Orders can be placed by telephoning our dispatch office 24 hours a day at 718-448-3900 Ext. 225 / 226. Ordered cannot be accepted by email or other electronic means. Payment options for yachts, including use of a credit card, are best arranged in advance through our billing office during normal business hours. Changes to arrival times must be received no later than 6 hours before scheduled arrival time.

New York Yacht Requirements

These requirements apply to all yachts transiting any portion of New York State waters even if their ultimate destination is in New Jersey.  For example: transiting Upper New York Bay to a marina on the New Jersey side of the Hudson.


As of June 2020

  • All foreign flag yachts 150 feet in overall length and over, entering or departing the ports and waters of New York State, shall be required to take a state pilot.
  • Vessels that fail to comply with the NY State Navigation Law are subject to statutory penalties.
  • Any foreign flag vessel, including yachts as specified above, failing to take a pilot shall also be reported to the USCG/Captain of the Port of New York or USCG/Captain of the Port of Long Island.


State of New Jersey Statute

12:8-35 Vessels required to take a maritime pilot; exceptions

Every United States vessel and every foreign vessel shall take a State-licensed maritime pilot when entering or leaving pilotage waters and shall take a licensed maritime pilot or docking pilot, as provided herein, when otherwise underway in pilotage waters. This requirement shall not apply to:

  • A vessel documented under the United States flag and operating in a coastwise trade; or
  • A public vessel of the United States or a vessel otherwise exempt from state pilotage regulation by United States law; or
  • A yacht of less than 200 feet in length.

If a regulated vessel underway on State pilotage waters fails to take a maritime pilot, the owner, master, agent or charterer shall pay the pilotage fees as if one had been employed and be subject to penalties under the commission’s regulations.


State of New York Navigation Law

Section 88.

Every foreign vessel and every American vessel under register entering and departing from the Port of New York by the way of Sandy Hook or by the way of Sands Point or Execution Rocks, shall take a Sandy Hook Pilot licensed under the authority of this article or of the laws of the state of New Jersey or a person heretofore licensed as a Hell Gate pilot. Whenever the services of such a pilot are refused, the master, owners or consignees, shall pay pilotage as if one had been employed. Such pilotage shall be paid to the pilot first speaking or offering his services as pilot to such vessel. The pilotage authorized to be collected whenever a pilot shall be refused by a vessel shall be sued for and recovered in the name of the pilot tendering such service. Such pilotage, when recovered, shall belong to and may be retained by such pilot for his own benefit and use.