Sailing Conditions and Water Level


Maximum tidal range at Bécancour is about 0.3 m.


Current flows are generally swifter in the ship channel. Average flow is 1 metre/second in the central portion of the river. Closer to the dock, flow increases to a rate ranging between 1 and 1.7 metres/second.


In the Bécancour area, predominant wind directions over the course of the year are southwesterly (25%), northerly (19%) and northeasterly (17%). Maximum velocities are experienced in April and minimum velocities in August. Average velocity is 13.8 km/h, while westerlies can reach an average of 18.3 km/h.


Ice begins to form along the shoreline around mid-December and can reach a thickness of 80 cm. However, the Bécancour port facilities, remain open year round with the occasional use of icebreakers.


Use of tugs on arrival or departure is left to the discretion of the ship's Master. The port authority may recommend the use of tugs to a ship using its facilities. Any ship which refuses to comply with such recommendation will be denied access to port facilities.


Pilotage is mandatory. Maritime traffic is subject to the Pilotage Act. Ships must use the services of a pilot upstream of Les Escoumins. They must send 24 hours advance notice to the Montreal pilot station of their estimated time of arrival (ETA) at Les Escoumins if their point of origin is east of the Strait of Belle-Île or the Cabot Strait. A second notice must be given 12 hours before ETA and final confirmation 6 hours before arrival. In the case of vessels arriving from points west of the Strait of Belle-Île, the Cabot Strait or the Canso Strait, only the 12 hours and 6 hours advance notices are required. The pilot-boat service at Les Escoumins pilot station, maintains a 24-hour listening watch on VHF 156.45, channel 9. Additional information on pilotage service may be obtained by contacting the Director of Operations, Laurentian Pilotage Authority.Pilotage is mandatory. The maritime traffic is regulated by the Pilotage Act. Ships must use pilotage service from Les Escoumins. They must send to the Montreal pilotage station, an advance notice of arrival at Les Escoumins, 24 hours prior to their forecasted arrival time, if they come from a place situated East of the Belle-Îsle Strait or the Cabot Strait and provide a second advance notice of arrival 12 hours prior to their forecasted arrival and then confirm 6 hours prior to their arrival.  If the ship comes from a place situated Ouest to the Belle-Îsle Strait, Cabot Strait or Canso Strait, only the advance notice 12 hours prior to the forecasted arrival time and another 6 hours prior to the forecasted arrival time are required. The pilot-boat service at the pilotage station of Les Escoumins ensures a radio monitoring on the VHF 156.45, chanel 9. Information on pilotage service can be obtained by contacting the operations manager at the Administration de pilotage des Laurentides.

Regulation system

The St. Lawrence River Vessel Traffic System (VTS) extends from south of Sept-Îles to the upstream limits of Montreal Harbour. All vessels over 100 gross tons and more than 20 metres in length are required to be fitted with VHF radiotelephone equipment and maintain a continuous listening watch on designated frequencies which are manned at all times at the VTS centres located at Les Escoumins (156.45, Channel 9), Quebec (156.55, channel 11 and 156.6, channel 12), and Montreal (156.5, Channel 10), and reserved exclusively for marine traffic safety information and traffic surveillance messages. The master of a vessel must obtain clearance from the appropriate regulating centre before entering waters under the jurisdiction of the Marine Traffic Regulating Authority. A full description of this system is available from the regional VTS manager, Canadian Coast Guard.