“In a way, it can be feast or famine sometimes when you’re ship watching,” he said. “We have 38 weekly vessel calls, all coming and going based on their schedules.”
Because Garden City Terminal is so large — nearly 10,000 feet of docking space with nine berths — ships rarely have to wait for a spot, Morris said, instead coming in as quickly as Savannah’s River Pilots can get out to them to bring them upriver.
Having gone out on one of the pilot boats, I know that’s pretty quick.
But it’s not like rush hour. There is no set pattern.
That said, Morris pointed out that an increasing number of ships are coming to the East Coast via the Suez Canal.
“For the most part, these ships are larger and will be tidally constrained,” he said. “The bigger the ship, the more water it needs.”
The Savannah River channel currently has 42 feet of water at mean low tide, while many of the newer, larger container vessels draft 44-45 feet when loaded and must wait for high tide to come upriver.
“Currently, more than half the ships that call on Garden City Terminal are tidally restricted,” Morris said, adding that the plan to deepen the harbor to 47 feet at low tide will allow for the larger vessels now preferred by the major shipping lines.
For now, though, you’re likely to see more ships coming in on a high tide.