Halifax (44°39'N., 63°35'W.) - Halifax Harbor, one of the finest natural harbors in the world, is entered between Chebucto Head (44°30'N., 63°31'W.) and Devils Island, about 5.5 miles NNE. Devils Island, 4.6m high and treeless, is almost joined to Hartlen Point, about 0.4 mile NNE, at LW by a shingle spit. Chebucto Head, 30.5m high, is composed of whitish rock.
The harbor currently accommodates oil tankers greater than 100,000 tons capacity and has long served as a naval base. Several naval surface and submarine exercise areas are situated in the approaches to Halifax Harbor. In 1992, 1,711 vessels used this port, including 1,242 international movements, totalling more than 31.9 million grt. The port handled 13.9 million tons of cargo in 1992.
The coast in the vicinity of Halifax is of moderate elevation, the hills near the shore are seldom more than 61m high. To the E of the harbor, as far as Jeddore Head, almost all the headlands are composed of cliffs of reddish sand, clay, and boulders; while to the W, as far as Mars Head, white granite predominates. The color of the cliffs are a good guide as to whether a vessel is E or W of the entrance.
Although the dangers in the approaches necessitate great caution during fogs, which are prevalent and accompany all winds from seaward, the harbor is easier to access than any
other large harbor on this coast. Halifax Harbor is a terminus and port of call for shipping all year, as ice is never a problem.
The city of Halifax, the capital of the Province of Nova Scotia, is situated on the W side of the harbor, about 8 miles NNW of Chebucto Head. The city of Dartmouth is situated across the harbor from Halifax. The Narrows, about 1 mile above Halifax, connects Halifax Harbor to Bedford Basin, an excellent landlocked basin.
Halifax has abundant rainfall, moderate but damp winters, cool summers, and frequent fog. Sudden and unusual changes of weather are a consistent feature of the climate. In early autumn, Nova Scotia occasionally gets the after effects of a hurricane.
The prevailing winds during the year are from the SW to NW.
Fog is common in the late spring and summer so, although the range lights are conspicuous and sensitive, they may not be seen in conditions of low visibility because of their distance. Consideration should be given to making an early afternoon arrival/departure and taking local advise to minimize this risk.
In extremely severe winters ice may form in the inner part of the harbor, but does not extend S of Georges Island (44°38'N., 63°34'W.). Even in these years the ice is rapidly broken up by strong S wind and swell.
The tidal rise at Halifax is 2.1m at MHWS, and 1.7m at MHWN.
The ordinary rate of the tidal currents does not exceed 0.5 knot, but the rate and vertical movement are influenced by the wind. A set to the W has been experienced at all stages of the tide between Lichfield Shoal and Mars Rock. In the harbor, the direction generally rotates with the tide, but in The Narrows and other passages, the current is reversing. The greatest rates occur in The Narrows, but even there they seldom exceed 1 knot. Winds of over 10 knots cause large variations from the usual pattern. In the approaches to Halifax Harbor the general flow is to the SW, but a NE set may be expected about 30 per cent of the time. The rate averages 0.25 knot and seldom exceeds 0.5 knot.
It has been reported (1998) that currents of up to 3 to 4 knots have been observed in the harbor.
Halifax has modern wharves with up-to-date facilities, such as rail connections, storage (warm and cold) sheds, grain conveyors, and facilities for handling containers and ro-ro traffic. Tankers up to 110,000 tons, with a draft of 15.2m, regularly use the port.
Wharves extend along the waterfront of Halifax, beginning with Pier C, the container terminal, near the mouth of the harbor to the Richmond Terminals in The Narrows.
Two suspension bridges span Halifax Harbor. The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge spans Halifax Harbor from Halifax to Dartmouth, in the vicinity of the naval dockyard. Three red lights are shown vertically from the N bridge abutment. The A. Murray MacKay Bridge crosses The Narrows. There is a vertical clearance of 49m at the center of both spans; however, a moving work platform suspended beneath the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge may reduce the clearance to 46.9m.
Protective rock berms, with an elevation of about 1.8m, surround the N abutment of the Macdonald Bridge and the two NE abutments of the MacKay Bridge. The E and W sides of
the berms are marked by flashing lights on masts.
Red aircraft obstruction lights are shown from the N and S towers of both bridges; these are at an elevation of 104m on the Macdonald Bridge and 96m on the MacKay Bridge.
A regular ferry service operates between Halifax and Dartmouth.
Overhead power lines cross The Narrows, close E of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge, with a clearance of 52m.
There are shipyard repairs at both Halifax and Dartmouth; repairs of all kinds can be executed.
Halifax has two floating docks, Panamax, the larger, and Scotiaock. There is also a graving dock, 173m long, 24m wide, with a depth over the sill of 9.1m and a mechanical lift dock
with a capacity of 7,000 tons. The Dartmouth Shipyard has three patent slips.
Chebucto Head (44°30'N., 63°31'W.), the W entrance point of Halifax Harbor, is marked about 0.4 mile NNW by Chebucto Head Light, shown from a white octagonal tower, 14m
high, on the summit of the headland; a radar tower, used for VTS surveillance, lies close W of the light. A racon transponder is situated at Chebucto Head Light. A tower is conspicuous about 0.4 mile SSW of Chebucto Head.
Bell Rock, with a depth of 2.1m, lies about 1 mile S of Chebucto Head. A lighted bell buoy is moored about 0.2 mile SE of the rock. Duncan Reef, on which there is a rock, 0.6m high,
extends about 0.3 mile offshore, about 0.5 mile S of Chebucto Head. A lighted buoy is moored about 0.4 mile E of the reef.
Sambro Island, Sambro Ledges, and Outer Bank have been previously described in paragraph 3.2 in Sambro Harbor Approach.
Camperdown Hill coast radar station is situated about 1.5 miles NW of Chebucto Head.
Sandwich Point (44°35'N., 63°33'W.) lies about 1.3 miles NNE of Tribune Head.
A lighted bell buoy is moored about 2.5 miles N of Chebucto Head, and marks the W edge of Bear Cove Shoal, with a least depth of 14.7m.
Sandwich Point Range Lights, about 0.3 mile SW of the point, in line bearing 336.5°, lead W of Bear Cove Shoal.
Portuguese Shoal, rock, with a least depth of 8.4m, lies about 2.5 miles NNE of Chebucto Head. A 9.1m shoal, rock, and a 10m patch, lie about 0.3 mile SW and 0.1 mile S, respectively, of Portuguese Shoal.
Head Rock Shoal (Rock Head Shoal), with a least depth of 7.2m, lies about 0.7 mile NE of Portuguese Shoal.
Lichfield Shoal, rock, with a depth of 4m, lies about 1.8 miles S of Sandwich Point and is marked on its E side by a lighted whistle buoy. Rocky patches, with depths of 17.1, 14.3,
and 16.7m, lie about 0.5, 0.8, and 0.9 mile SSE, respectively, of Lichfield Shoal.
Neverfail Shoal, with a least depth of 8.2m, lies about 2 miles SSE of Sandwich Point and is marked by a lighted buoy.
Mars Rock, with a depth of 3.7m, lies about 0.5 mile SSE of Sandwich Point and lies on the E part of a bank, with depths of less than 18.3m, on which there are several shoal patches with depths of from 5.5 to 9.1m, which extends about 0.9 mile SSE from the same point. Holy Stone (Hollystone), 2m high, lies on the W part of this bank, nearly 0.1 mile offshore, and about 0.3 mile S of Sandwich Point.
Big Thrumcap (44°35'N., 63°30'W.), 14m high, lies close SW of the red clay cliff at the S extremity of McNabs Island. Little Thrumcap Hook comprises several small islets on a shingle beach located about 1.5 miles E of Sandwich Point. Thrumcap Shoal, with depths of less than 5m, surrounds a shingle beach, located about 0.7 mile SSE of Big Thrumcap. A lighted bell buoy is moored close S of the S extremity of Thrumcap Shoal.
Mariners should avoid fishing nets in the vicinity of Thrumcap Shoal and Head Rock Shoal.
Eastern Passage is the narrow channel separating Lawlor Island and McNabs Island from the mainland to the E. It has a least depth of 2.1m in the fairway, but due to continual silting, the charted depths are subject to change. The passage is accessible from the S only to small craft through a buoyed channel about 61m wide, formed by a gap in the obstruction between Lawlor Island and the mainland.
The main channel into Halifax Harbor lies W of McNabs Island (44°36'N., 63°31'W.). Maugher Beach extends over 0.5
mile W from the W side of McNabs Island. Maugher Beach Light is shown from a white octagonal tower, 16.5m high, situated on the W end of Maugher Beach. A fog signal is sounded from the light.
Halifax Harbor Middle Range Lights, in line bearing 356°, are located on McNabs Island, about 0.8 mile farther N. Both lights are shown from white daymarks with red stripes.
Lighthouse Bank, with a least depth of 4.7m, extends about 0.8 mile SSE from the W end of Maugher Beach. A bank, with depths of less than 5.5m, extends about 0.2 mile NW and SW, and 0.12 mile W from the outer end of Maugher Beach.
Outer Middle Ground, with a depth of 10.7m, lies about 0.4 mile SW of the outer end of Maugher Beach and is marked W by a lighted buoy. Middle Ground, with a least depth of 8.5m at its N end, lies about 1.5 miles N of Sandwich Point and is marked close NNW by a lighted buoy. There is a 10.1m rocky shoal and an 11m shoal about 90m and 275m SSE, respectively, of Middle Ground.
A wreck, with a depth of 21.6m, lies in the main fairway between Outer Middle Ground and Middle Ground.
York Redoubt (44°36'N., 63°33'W.), about 0.8 mile NW of Sandwich Point, stands on a hill, 54m high, and is conspicuous. A Roman Catholic Church, with two towers, lies close N
of the redoubt.
Point Pleasant (44°37'N., 63°34'W.) is the S extremity of the Halifax Peninsula and the N entrance point of the Northwest Arm. There is a conspicuous monument about 0.1 mile NE of the point.
Pleasant Shoal is an extensive shoal extending about 0.6 mile E and 0.5 mile SE from Point Pleasant. It has a least depth of 0.6m extending nearly 0.4 mile seaward of the point. Hen and Chickens, which dry 0.9m, lie on the W part of the shoal, about 0.1 mile SE of Point Pleasant. A lighted bell buoy marks the E extremity of the shoal.
Ives Point (44°37'N., 63°33'W.), the NW extremity of Mc- Nabs Island, is a steep clay bank with a shingle beach. Submerged mounds of rocks and boulders extend N from the point. A bank, with depths of less than 9.1m, extends over 0.4 mile NW of Ives Point. Ives Knoll, a rock drying 0.3m and marked by a dolphin, lies on the NW part of the bank, about 0.3 mile NW of the points. A lighted bell buoy and a lighted buoy are moored on the W and N edge of the bank, respectively.
Georges Island, 12.2m high, lies about 1.3 miles NW of Ives Point. A bank, with depths of less than 5.5m, about 90m in width, surrounds the island. The front light of the Halifax Harbor Inner Range Lights is shown from a white octagonal tower on the W side of Georges Island. The rear light is exhibited from a triangular tower, 17m high, situated in the city of Dartmouth. These lights, in line bearing 339°, lead E of Pleasant Shoal, Middle Ground and Outer Middle Ground, and W of Lighthouse Bank.
A radar tower, 17m high, looking like a golf ball on a tee, is situated on St. Georges Island.
The flame tower at the Imperial Oil refinery, situated about 0.8 mile E of Georges Island, is said to be visible for distances of up to 30 miles. Another flame tower is situated about 2
miles E of Ives Point.
Bedford Basin (44°41'N., 63°38'W.), entered from the NW end of The Narrows, lies at the head of Halifax Harbor and is landlocked. The shores of the basin are indented by a number of coves and bays.
Wrights Cove lies between Wrights Point (44°41.6'N., 63°37.0'W.) and Rent Point. The latter is bordered by an explosives dumping ground. The cove is enclosed SW by Navy Island.
An area strewn with live ammunition lies off Rent Point; diving and anchorage is prohibited.
A naval exercise area extends nearly 0.5 mile from the shore between Rent Point and the W side of Roach Cove, 1.2 miles NW. A naval underwater demolition training area is situated in Roach Cove.
There are two radio towers standing nearly 0.5 mile SW of Sherwood Point (44°41'N., 63°39'W.). Three red obstruction lights, vertically displayed, are shown from each tower.
A television transmitting tower, 334m high, with red and white horizontal bands, lies about 1.8 miles S of Sherwood Point. Four red obstruction lights, vertically displayed, are
shown from the tower.
There is a hydro tower, at an elevation of 95m, on Turple Head, and a second tower, at an elevation of 112m, near the Halifax end of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge. Both towers
display red aircraft obstruction lights.
There are three conspicuous chimneys, 152m high, painted with red and white horizontal bands, are situated at the power plant near the E entrance to Tufts Cove. They display red aircraft obstruction lights.
Pilotage is compulsory. Pilots board, as follows:
1. Outer boarding position—about 2.2 miles SE of Chebucto Head.
2. Inner boarding position—about 1.5 miles NE of Chebucto Head.
In heavy weather, it is not always possible for the pilot vessel to be at the above positions, but will proceed as far seaward aspossible to embark or disembark a pilot. Pilot boats are equipped with radar and maintain a radiotelephone watch on VHF channels 12 and 14.
To avoid a delay in obtaining a pilot, masters of vessels bound for Halifax must request a pilot from the Atlantic Pilotage Authority at least 12 hours before arrival at the pilot boarding station. The ETA must be confirmed or corrected 3 hours prior to arrival at the pilot station. Vessels departing or moving within the pilotage area must contact the Atlantic Pilotage Authority 5 hours before the departure. The ETD must be confirmed 1 hour prior to the time the ship is to move or depart. Local time should be used. If GMT is used, it must be expressly stated.
Vessels of 50,000 grt and over shall apply for clearance to the VTM Center not less than 24 hours before the vessel is due to enter the Halifax VTM Zone.
In addition to the contact methods described in Pub. 140, Sailing Directions (Planning Guide) North Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, North Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic
Pilotage Authority may also be contacted on VHF channel 23, call sign “Halifax Pilot Dispatch.”
Vessels maneuvering or otherwise underway in Halifax Harbor, and also while at an alongside berth or at anchor, are subject to the Halifax Port Corporation By-Law A-1(Operating
Regulations). A copy of these may be obtained from the Port Corporation.
The regulations require that no vessel shall move in the harbor at a rate of speed that may endanger life or property. Northwest Arm is designated a No Wake Corridor and mariners are required to adjust their speed accordingly. Vessels should proceed at a speed which does not create a wash when N of Ives Knoll (44°38'N., 63°33'W.).
In Halifax Harbor, a specific speed limit of 8 knots has been established. The Halifax Harbor limit lies nearly midway between Pleasant Shoal and Middle Ground.
The Port Corporation has wide powers over vessels in its harbors and may order vessels to move, to use tugs, to berth, or anchor in locations which it designates. Certain restrictions on berthing and anchoring are set forth, along with the requirements for vessels to inform the Corporation in advance of their intention to berth or anchor in the harbor.
Vessels are regulated with respect to cargo-handling operations and the equipment and lighting employed in these operations. Instructions for signalling, action in the event of accidents, cargo or gear lost overboard, and safety requirements are included.
There are specific vessel regulations for the carriage and handling of explosives and dangerous goods, as well as rules to be observed in the prevention of fire.
Direct ship to shore communication with the harbormaster is available 24 hours on VHF channel 65A.
Controlled Access Zones.—Canadian Naval facilities in Halifax Harbor are now designated as Controlled Access Zones. See Pub. 140, Sailing Directions (Planning Guide)
North Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, North Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea for additional information.
Procedures for vessels transiting The Narrows.—For the purposes of the following procedures, the area referred to as The Narrows is defined, as follows:
1. The navigable water lying between a line through position 44°39'47.5''N, 63°34'11.5''W in a 221° direction and extended to the opposite shore (Calling-in-Point No. 9, Ferry track); and
2. A line through position 44°41'21.5''N, 63°37'01''W in a 197° direction and extended to the opposite shore (Callingin- Point No. 10, Bedford Institute of Oceanography).
These procedures will apply to all vessels of 20m or more in length.
These procedures are to be followed when two vessels proceed toward The Narrows from opposite directions:
1. Halifax Traffic will inform each vessel of the location, and destination of the other vessel.
2. Except to prevent imminent danger to life or property, a vessel of more than 150m will not transit The Narrows at the same time as another vessel the length of which is also greater than 150m. Vessels will agree to their precedence of transit by means of bridge to bridge contact on VHF channel 12. The northbound vessel will initiate this contact prior to passing George’s Island and the southbound vessel immediately on leaving a berth in Bedford Basin. Unless otherwise agreed to by the vessels, the northbound vessel will have precedence and maintain course and speed.
3. Where one of the transiting vessels is greater than 150m, the vessels will agree to their transit procedures by means of bridge to bridge contact on VHF channel 12. The northbound vessel will initiate this contact prior to passing George’s Island and the southbound vessel immediately on leaving a berth in Bedford Basin.
4. In restricted visibility or in winds sufficiently strong to affect maneuverability a vessel of length 150m or more underway and with an intent to transit The Narrows may request through Halifax Traffic that all other transiting traffic throug The Narrows be restricted.
5. In cases where the vessels concerned are less than 150m in length, transit procedures will be agreed to by all vessels through bridge to bridge contact on VHF channel 12.
A vessel requesting a clearance from Halifax Traffic to depart a berth within The Narrows is subject to the requirements of vessels in transit and may have such clearance withheld
until traffic in transit is past and clear.
The master of a vessel or his delegate or the pilot who has reason to believe that the vessel has or might become uncontrollable from any cause and is at risk to collision with a bridge pier in The Narrows will make the following broadcast on VHF channel 12 as soon as possible:
PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN
MACDONALD (MACKAY) BRIDGE, MACDONALD
THIS IS (name of ship)
STOP TRAFFIC, STOP TRAFFIC, STOP TRAFFIC
(name of ship) OUT
Commanding Officers of Department of National Defense vessels will comply with these procedures as far as practicable.
These procedures shall not relieve the vessel, its master, owner, person in charge, or having the conduct thereof from any obligation contained in the Canadian Regulations enacted pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act.
Traffic Separation Scheme.—For vessels entering or departing from Halifax Harbor, there is a voluntary separation scheme in the S, SW, and SE approaches to the harbor.
Vessel Traffic Service.—Halifax VTS Zone, with radar surveillance for the control of shipping, extends over the whole of Halifax Harbor and its approaches within Canadian territorial waters, and is distinct from the Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone (ECAREG). The outer limits of the zone extends from Collies Head and Pennant Point.
Participation is mandatory, as follows:
1. All vessels of 20m or more in length.
2. Vessels engaged in towing or pushing where the combined length of the ship and any vessel or object towed or pushed by the ship is 45m or more in length.
3. Vessels engaged in towing or pushing where the length of the vessel or object being towed or pushed by the ship is 20m or more in length.
4. Air cushion vehicles of 8m or more in length.
A traffic clearance is required before entering a zone or departing a berth or mooring. Clearance is obtained by making reports 15 minutes before entering the zone, arriving at a
calling-in-point, arriving at a berth, and departing a berth.
The Canadian Coast Guard has a Vessel Traffic Management Center at Chebucto Head, equipped with VHF communications, to administer the system.
The mandatory reporting points for inbound and outbound vessels are shown on the appropriate charts. All vessels transiting the regulated area should be provided with a VHF set in accordance with the required standards.
The VTS Service is divided into two sectors. Sector 1 generally lies seaward of the line joining Chebucto Head and Hartlen Point. Sector 2 generally lies NW of this same line.
The Vessel Traffic Management Center, call sign "Halifax Traffic," can be contacted, as follows:
1. Sector 1—VHF channel 14.
2. Sector 2—VHF channel 12.
For vessels not yet fitted with the required equipment, portable VHF sets of limited range will be made available on a rental basis for vessels in pilotage.
There are seven numbered anchorage berths, best seen on the chart, between McNabs Island and Dartmouth. Anchorage No. 1, SE of Georges Island, is the quarantine anchorage.
There is a prohibited anchorage area including the whole of the main entrance to Halifax Harbor and Eastern Passage. The N limit is in the vicinity of the Terminals Breakwater Light, at the S extremity of Pier C container pier; the S limit is adjacen to Sandwich Point.
There is also good anchorage in Bedford Basin, S of a line drawn between Seaview Point and Sherwood Point. A Navy berth at a moored barge lies 0.25 mile NNW of Sherwood
Point. A submarine cable runs WNW from the barge to the shore. Anchoring is prohibited in the vicinity of the barge.
Anchorage Area A and Anchorage Area B, located E of Chebucto Head, should not be used during periods of strong onshore winds.
In thick weather, the E approach to Halifax Harbor is rendered comparatively easy by the absence of off-lying dangers after Shut-in Island (44°37'N., 63°17'W.) has been passed,
and by soundings on the coastal bank which deepen fairly regularly to 55m at a distance of 4 to 6 miles offshore.
Approaching from the W in thick weather, the soundings on Outer Bank, off Sambro Ledges, may be found of great assistance.
There is a traffic separation scheme for vessels entering or departing from Halifax Harbor.
From the vicinity of Lighted Whistle Buoy H4 (44°32'N., 63°30'W.), three lighted ranges lead into Halifax Harbor, as follows:
1. Sandwich Point Range Lights, about 0.3 mile SW of Sandwich Point, in line bearing 336.5°, lead W of Bear Cove Shoal and between Neverfail Shoal and Lichfield Shoal.
2. Halifax Harbor Middle Range Lights, in the NW part of McNabs Island, in line bearing 356°, lead between Neverfail Shoal and Lichfield Shoal, and E of Mars Rock.
3. Halifax Harbor Inner Range Lights, with the front light on the W side of Georges Island, in line bearing 339° with the rear light in Dartmouth, lead E of Pleasant Shoal, Middle Ground, and Outer Middle Ground and W of Lighthouse Shoal and Ives Knoll.
Georges Island may be passed on either side.
A degaussing range, surrounded by a prohibited anchorage area, is situated 0.25 mile NW of Seaview Point.