After years of looking, the Port of Grays Harbor has its new pilot boat, the Vega, to replace the 60-year-old Chehalis.
The search for a vessel that can handle the unique conditions on Grays Harbor took the Port’s team across the country and beyond.
“We started with the idea of looking at used boats just because of the cost,” said Port director of environmental and engineering services Randy Lewis. “We checked with other ports and pilot associations to see what they were running and what the costs were.”
The cost of a new custom built boat would have run $5 million to $8 million, “way beyond what we wanted to do,” said Lewis. He said the Port team began its due diligence, studying standard designs by manufacturers being used in the northeast, Alaska and areas in Canada that had “somewhat similar conditions” to those faced on Grays Harbor, and researching brokers to find the right fit at the right cost.
Then the Vega came available. The 17-year-old, 64-foot vessel, built by Hike Metal of Ontario, Canada, had what the Port was looking for, at a significantly lower cost, about $400,000. Lewis said even a used boat suitable for the task could have run $2 million to $3 million.