Continuing on the theme created in the "Gone Around" discussion....While underway last weekend I thought of this topic. (For those of you that read the CAN DRAC blog you will see why). I found that either the trip under a bridge is extremely non-eventful or it is full of exciting, stressful or disturbing stories.

I have a story that stands out in my mind. It was last season when we were traveling back to the NY harbor from the Long Island Sound. The President was in town so they had to close off the normal passage down the East River. So we had to take the alternate route and have a bridge opened for us. We called ahead and the operator was very professional and pleasant. He opened the bridge on demand. We were unsure of the height he had raised the bridge to and reached out to him again over the VHF to verify that we had enough clearance. The comments he said next have still not been forgotten...."[chuckle, chuckle].... yes Cap' you've got over 80' of clearance". Oh boy did we feel stupid! No matter how much clearance you have it always looks and feels like you are going to perhaps go my story ends as 'Not'.

I look forward to hearing all about your funny or stressful bridge encounters! Have you ‘Gone Atop’ or ‘Not’?

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I did have a bridge in Florida start to close on me, that certainly got my heart racing, but I made it through without mishap.

After clearing a bridge on the VIrginia Cut (I forget which one) last year, I watched as a southbound boat approached the bridge, and saw the skipper go below. What he didn't know, was the bridge was closing. Again, a narrow escape.

One not so lucky, this year, happened on the east side of Roanoke Island in NC. It's an alternate route for the ICW, but isn't part of the ICW. This gentleman was not only sailing through, he had his chute up as well. The first bridge has 66' of clearance, but when they built it, they left up the other bridge that is only 45'. As he explained later, he thought all fixed bridges on the ICW had enough clearance for his boat. What he didn't realize was, he wasn't on the ICW. Needless to say, he finished his trip as a power boat.

Never take any bridge for granted, whether fixed or opening. If in any doubt, verify by any means but the top of your mast (G)

Aboard S/V Aria
I find it amusing when the Bridge clearance going over to Sanibel Island is 26 ft. and My Compac 19 cleared 25 ft. and 28 ft. with the vhf Antana, at the 26 ft. waterline I have never touched the VHF antana because the draw bridge is arched and apperantly the high mark is at the low end of the arch.
I always look around when going under and all boat traffic is stopped waiting for me to hit the bridge.
I just smile and receive a lot of claps as I pass under.
The new bridge that opened 6 mo. ago has a 70 ft. clearance and no longer receive the claps.
I helped deliver a 1979 37' Hunter 2 years ago form Baltimore to Tuckerton Creek. We ran a tape up the mast with the main sheet and came up with 54' including the antenna. The water boards at the Cape May Canal indicated 54' so we proceeded. We were off by inches since the antenna wacked every girder on both bridges!
Across Tuckerton Creek there is a power line(26KV(?)). My 2005 GPS indicated 50' clearance but the latest NOAAA chart off the web stated 60'. The owner had bought a property & slip not being aware of the powerline!! We stopped at a local store on the creek to gain some local knowledge.
A gentleman remebered the utility working on the crossing 2 years before. We estimated the height baed on a nearby 2 story house. It looked like 60'. We proceeded very slowy with the land based gentleman doing an eyeball for us. It WAS 60"!! It is very hard to judge it standing on the boat.
we discovered that the bridge heights on the intercoastal waterway in south florida are off by 1'. we have 65' with our antenna, etc. we went under the bridge, with what we thought would be enough clearance BUT along with the bridge height being incorrect, and a boat going under the fixed bridge at the same time - we hit the top of the bridge. we held our breath as twhat we thought was he mast continued to hit as we went thru and a large object fell to the deck. once we were able to get to a location where we were able to take stock of the damage we realized that the mast was not damaged - just the wind vane and the antenna - that meant we had no depth finder, boat speed, wind speed etc. the depth finder was the only issue because we had to go back under the bridge to get to our marina!! needless to say we waited until the tide was at it's absolute lowest before we went under again - and our hearts stopped as you can imagine!
lesson learned always give fixed bridges a height leeway.........
Oh no...Ouch! I am glad to hear that there wasn't too much damage. Thanks for sharing, if we're ever down that way, we'll keep that in mind. I am sure this is a lesson not forgotten.

Is everything fixed and back to normal now? I hope so!


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