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St. Clair and Detroit River Navigation Safety Regulations (SOR/84-335)

Regulations are current to 2020-05-17 and last amended on 2007-07-01. Previous Versions

St. Clair and Detroit River Navigation Safety Regulations



Registration 1984-04-19

Regulations Respecting Navigation Safety on the Waters of the Great Lakes from Lake Huron to Lake Erie

P.C. 1984-1383 1984-04-18

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to section 635 of the Canada Shipping Act, is pleased hereby to revoke the St. Clair and Detroit River Vessel Speed Regulations, C.R.C., c. 1469, and, pursuant to sections 635 and 730Footnote * of the said Act, to make the annexed Regulations respecting navigation safety on the waters of the Great Lakes from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, effective on April 30, 1984.

Short Title

 These Regulations may be cited as the St. Clair and Detroit River Navigation Safety Regulations.


 In these Regulations,

Captain of the Port

Captain of the Port means the Captain of the Port for the United States Coast Guard at Detroit, Michigan; (capitaine de port)

District Commander

District Commander means the District Commander for the Ninth United States Coast Guard District; (commandant du district)

floating plant

floating plant includes any type of manned barge, scow or similar watercraft that is used for river or harbour improvements, salvage, scientific work, cargo handling, exploration or exploitation of mineral resources, or other similar operations; (installation flottante)

Harbour Master

Harbour Master means the harbour master appointed for the Windsor harbour; (maître de port)


knot means one nautical mile per hour over the ground; (noeud)


length, in respect of a ship, means the overall length of the ship; (longueur)


mile means the international nautical mile of 1 852 metres; (mille)

Regional Director General

Regional Director General means the Regional Director General for the Central Region, Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Transport; (directeur général régional)


SARNIA TRAFFIC means the Canadian Coast Guard traffic centre at Sarnia, Ontario. (SARNIA TRAFFIC)

  • SOR/94-130, s. 1


  •  (1) Subject to subsections (2), (3) and (4), these Regulations apply to

    • (a) all ships in the Canadian waters, and

    • (b) all Canadian ships in the United States’ waters of the lakes and rivers between buoys “1” of the East and West Outer Channels at the Lake Erie entrance to the Detroit River and Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “11” and including the Rouge River and Short Cut Canal from Detroit Edison Cell Light “1” to the head of navigation.

  • (2) Sections 5 to 7 apply to every ship that is required by the Ship Station (Radio) Regulations, 1999 to be fitted with a VHF radiotelephone.

  • (3) Section 12 applies to

    • (a) power-driven ships of 55 metres or more in length;

    • (b) ships of 20 metres or more in length propelled wholly by sails and not being propelled by mechanical means;

    • (c) vessels engaged in towing another vessel astern, alongside or by pushing ahead; and

    • (d) floating plants.

  • (4) Sections 10, 11 and 12 do not apply to a ship that is

    • (a) owned by or in the service of the government of Canada or the United States and that is engaged in icebreaking, search and rescue or servicing aids to navigation; or

    • (b) engaged in river or harbour improvements, where other ships have been warned of those operations and where that ship is operated in a safe and prudent manner.

  • SOR/94-130, s. 2
  • SOR/2000-264, s. 3


 In the event of any inconsistency between these Regulations and the laws of the United States, the laws of the United States prevail to the extent of the inconsistency in respect of a Canadian ship while it is in United States’ waters.

Listening Watch

 Every ship shall maintain a continuous listening watch on

  • (a) channel 11 between Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “11” and Lake St. Clair Light; and

  • (b) channel 12 between Lake St. Clair Light and Detroit River Light.

Traffic Reports

 Every ship shall, at the locations or the time specified in an item of Column I of the schedule when the ship is proceeding in any direction specified in Column II of that item, make a traffic report to SARNIA TRAFFIC on the channel on which it is required to maintain a continuous listening watch, indicating its

  • (a) identity;

  • (b) location;

  • (c) intended course of action; and

  • (d) estimated time of arrival at the next location referred to in Column I of the schedule.

Additional Traffic Reports

  •  (1) Subject to subsection (2), every ship shall report to SARNIA TRAFFIC

    • (a) when departing from any dock, mooring or anchorage in waters referred to in subsection 3(1), unless the ship is moving within the Rouge River and Short Cut Canal or is a ferry making regular voyages;

    • (b) before manoeuvring to come about;

    • (c) when entering waters referred to in subsection 3(1) and shall give

      • (i) estimated time of arrival at its dock, mooring or anchorage, if intending to stop within the area,

      • (ii) draft and local agent if the ship is not registered in Canada or the United States;

    • (d) where the ship has an accident or a malfunction of its machinery or equipment that may impair its safe navigation;

    • (e) where there is an obstruction or other hazard in the channel; and

    • (f) in the case of a towing ship, where the towing ship is having difficulty controlling its tow.

  • (2) The reports required by paragraphs (1)(e) and (f) are not required if the information has been promulgated by a Notice to Shipping or by a Notice to Mariners.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 1


 The reports required by sections 6 and 7 are not required when a ship’s radiotelephone installation is not in working condition.

Navigation Rules

 No person shall navigate or operate any ship in a manner that is dangerous to any person, that ship, or any other vessel, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature and condition of the waters being navigated and the use that is or might reasonably be expected to be made of those waters.

 In the Detroit River,

  • (a) the West Outer Channel is restricted to downbound ships;

  • (b) the Amherstburg Channel east of Bois Blanc Island is restricted to upbound ships except where the Regional Director General has authorized a ship to proceed downbound;

  • (c) the Livingstone Channel west of Bois Blanc Island is restricted to downbound ships; and

  • (d) between Bar Point Pier Light “D33” and Fighting Island South Light, no ship shall overtake another ship if those ships will meet another ship proceeding in the opposite direction while the overtaking is taking place.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 2
  • SOR/94-130, s. 3(F)

 A ship shall not overtake another ship

  • (a) except a ship engaged in towing, in the

    • (i) Detroit River between the west end of Belle Isle and Peach Island Light, and

    • (ii) St. Clair River between St. Clair Flats Canal Light “2” and Russell Island Light “33”; and

  • (b) in the Rouge River.

 The waters between the St. Clair/Black River Junction Light and Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “1” constitute an area of alternating one-way traffic and

  • (a) no ship may in that area

    • (i) overtake another ship,

    • (ii) meet another ship, or

    • (iii) come about;

  • (b) no moored ship may get underway until it is able to proceed through those waters without passing or being passed by another ship; and

  • (c) a downbound ship that has reached Lake Huron Cut Light “7” has the right-of-way over an upbound ship that has not yet reached the St. Clair/Black River Junction Light, and an upbound ship awaiting the transit of a downbound ship shall wait its turn below the St. Clair/Black River Junction Light.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 3
  • SOR/88-102, s. 1

 [Revoked, SOR/94-130, s. 4]

 No ship shall embark, disembark or exchange a pilot between the St. Clair/Black River Junction Light and Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “1” unless, because of the weather, it is unsafe to carry out that activity at the normal pilotage ground above Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “1”.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 4
  • SOR/88-102, s. 2

 Every ship shall, by using navigation safety calls, communicate its intentions to any other ship in the vicinity and ensure that the movements of the ships are coordinated and there is an agreement between the ships before proceeding to overtake or meet it.

Anchorage Rules

 In the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, no ship shall anchor in such a manner that it may swing into the channel or across steering courses.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 5(F)
  • SOR/94-130, s. 5 (F)
  • SOR/98-123, s. 7(F)
  •  (1) A floating plant engaged in dredging, construction or wrecking may only be operated, anchored or moored if the person having conduct of the floating plant obtains authorization from the Regional Director General, the District Commander, the Captain of the Port or the Harbour Master having jurisdiction in waters in which the floating plant will operate, anchor or moor.

  • (2) The authorization referred to in subsection (1) shall be given if the floating plant conforms to such conditions as are necessary to ensure the safety of navigation.

  • SOR/86-541, s. 6
  • SOR/94-130, s. 6

Speed Rules

 Except when required for the safety of the ship or any other ship, no ship of 20 m or more in length may proceed at a speed greater than

  • (a) 10.4 knots between

    • (i) Fort Gratiot and St. Clair Flats Canal Light “2”, and

    • (ii) Peach Island Light and Detroit River Light;

  • (b) 3.5 knots in the Rouge River; or

  • (c) five knots in the navigable channel south of Peach Island.

Towing Ships

  •  (1) A towing ship shall not drop or anchor its tows in such a manner that they may swing into a channel or across steering courses.

  • (2) A towing ship engaged in arranging its tow shall not obstruct the navigation of other ships.

  • SOR/86-965, s. 2(F)

Temporary Instructions and Prohibitions

  •  (1) Notwithstanding anything in these Regulations, where, because of channel obstructions, a casualty, the weather, ice conditions, water levels or other unforeseen or temporary circumstances, compliance with these Regulations would be impossible, impracticable or unsafe or would cause a risk of pollution, the Regional Director General, in the case of Canadian waters, or the District Commander or the Captain of the Port, in the case of United States’ waters, may temporarily instruct ships to proceed in a certain manner or by a certain route, or to anchor in a certain place, or prohibit ships from proceeding or anchoring except as specified in lieu of or in addition to any provisions of these Regulations.

  • (2) A temporary instruction or prohibition issued by the Regional Director General pursuant to subsection (1) comes into force on its promulgation in a Notice to Shipping or a Notice to Mariners and shall remain in force until its modification or rescission is promulgated in a subsequent Notice to Shipping or Notice to Mariners or until the time specified in the original promulgation.


 The Regional Director General and the Harbour Master shall exchange with the District Commander and Captain of the Port, forthwith, any information they receive or send that may affect the administration of these Regulations and the respective jurisdictions of those persons.

  • SOR/86-965, s. 3(F)

SCHEDULE(Section 6)Traffic Reports


Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and Detroit River

ItemColumn IColumn II
130 minutes north of Lake Huron Cut Lighted Horn Buoy “11”downbound
2Lake Huron Cut Light “7”downbound
3Lake Huron Cut Lighted Buoy “I”upbound
4St. Clair/Black River Junction Lightdownbound and upbound
5Stag Island Upper Lightupbound
6Marine City Salt Dock Lightdownbound and upbound
7Grande Pointe Light “23”downbound
8St. Clair Flats Canal Light “2”upbound
9Lake St. Clair Lightdownbound and upbound
10Belle Isle Lightdownbound
11Grassy Island Lightdownbound and upbound
12Detroit River Lightdownbound and upbound


Rouge River and Short Cut Canal

ItemColumn IColumn II
120 minutes before entering or leaving the Rouge River or Short Cut Canaldownbound and upbound
2Immediately before entering or leaving the Rouge River or Short Cut Canaldownbound and upbound
  • SOR/86-541, s. 7
  • SOR/88-102, s. 3
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