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Old 02-08-2011, 13:01   #1
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Drawbridge Experience

I was in the Miami river heading outbound to the bay, the last bridge between me an the bay opens on the hour and half hour except between 16:30 and 18:00 when it wont open at all due to high traffic. There was a sailing catamaran waiting and myself, the bridge opened at 16:00 and the cat guns both engines and shoots through, I opened my throttle all the way and against the incoming tide and headwind was making about 4kts. As I cleared the fenders the bridge began to close, no whistle, no warning just started to close. I throttled down, reversed and threw the tiller to one side, I got sideways in the canal my mast was less than 10 yards from the bridge, the incoming tide and wind is all that saved me. I radioed the bridge tender and asked if he didn't see me, he replied "you weren't fast enough, you'll have to wait for the next opening"
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:06   #2
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

Did you talk to the bridge tender before he slammed it shut? It's always helpful to stay on Ch 9 and tell them you're coming through. Maybe he didn't see you.
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:07   #3
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

There is a guy here in NJ who runs chartes on a hunter ( 35ft maybe) and i know for a fact the bridge tender waits for him. Ive seen him running behind and he is just coming out of his marina and the tender will wait for him, sometimes up to five minutes.
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:07   #4
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

Bummer....

How long do bridges typically stay open?
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:10   #5
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

Also, one time i was cut off by a powerboat which made me have to turn 360 degrees to avoid collision, when I made it halfway it was apparent it was not going to end well so I aborted. Seconds later I hear screaming over the VHF that I tried to sneak in and that he had my name and was going to report me. When I replied I was cut off he claimed he didnt see anyone except me trying to make it. Nothing came of it but I was ticked off. Then sometimes in the off season no one responds so you spend time circling or waiting then they come back to you.
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:12   #6
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

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Bummer....

How long do bridges typically stay open?
Here in NJ if you arent in the lineup you wont make it. They typically wait till boats make it then shut. If there is 10 boats they will wait but as soon as the last one clears its another half hour till opening during summer ops.
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Old 02-08-2011, 13:17   #7
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Re: worst bridge tender ever

Couple of weeks ago was heading south on the Napa River. The Mare Island Causeway lift bridge opened up promptly for a sailboat under power which was several minutes ahead of me. I gunned the engine for an additional knot and with a slightly helpful current made 8 knots over the bottom. The bridge tender held the bridge open for me! The highway isn't a major artery, but there were about 20 vehicles on either side of the lift bridge.

Going north earlier in the day, the bridge lifted a few minutes after I signaled with horn, but the bridge tender didn't acknowledge with a response. So I signaled twice.
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Old 02-08-2011, 17:37   #8
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

Never, ever approach an opening bridge without establishing communications with the bridge tender and being very certain he or she knows your intentions. Never, ever assume they can see you and know what you are trying to do. I don't care if I'm the fifth boat in line waiting to go through the bridge, I communicate this fact to the bridge tender, make sure he confirms, and then I tell him when I am clear of the bridge. I have seen bridges close prematurely numerous times on the ICW--the bridge tender is not a mind reader and can't assume you are going through if you don't say so. They often can't see the channel very well, or sometimes much at all. There are often marinas and side channels around the bridge that you could be heading into or boats could be popping out of. The tender has to assume that those that want to go through will say so.
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Old 02-08-2011, 18:32   #9
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

X2 for what Kettlewell said.

Always communicate with the tender and don't forget a friendly wave as you go through.

The tenders in South Florida are without a doubt very professional and accommodating. They've held bridges and occasionally opened a few minutes late when we were running behind schedule...

We regularly transit two drawbridges from our dock and I have plans to send holiday gift baskets to the bridges come the holidays!!!

I've only had one tender who was a total asshat (Juno Beach @ Donald Ross Bridge) GRRRRR don't get me started on this particular jerk...

If you didn't communicate with the bridge on channel 9 then it's your fault... if you did and the tender closed when you were transiting I would file a complaint...
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Old 02-08-2011, 18:40   #10
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

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I've only had one tender who was a total asshat (Juno Beach @ Donald Ross Bridge) GRRRRR don't get me started on this particular jerk...

..
Actually the worse bridge on that stretch is Indiantown Road Bridge. The day guy on that bridge is not happy in his work to paraphrase the Japanese camp commander in `The Bridge on the River Kwai. I`ve had a few disagreements with him over the years.
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Old 02-08-2011, 18:45   #11
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

I watched the Bridge tender of the Skidaway Bridge drop it on a Catalina that had not called. I think that guy is gone.
The busy bridges simply ask you to que up close enough to all get through in a timely manner. If you cannot hold station in close then you should rethink bridges.
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Old 02-08-2011, 18:50   #12
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

Most bridge tenders are power mad and evil. Really.
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Old 02-08-2011, 18:58   #13
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

Quote:
How long do bridges typically stay open?
You are a boat passing through. The cars waiting are mostly local. They make phone calls and whine about the bridge being open too long. There is always political pressure to close the bridge in times of high vehicle traffic soonest. Calling ahead, BEING NICE, and asking what the allowance might be could get you the most you'll get. Being friendly on the radio and offering a Thank You may be remembered. I know of one bridge where the bridge tender is also the lock master you need to deal with in a very short few minutes. Pissing him off at the bridge would be a problem.

Making a serious effort to "git there on time" should be obvious too. Being a jerk never helps. If you can get behind a commercial vessel it helps. Those captains can hold a bridge far longer than you could ever hope to. They are mostly local too.

Listen to the radio and get a feel for what is going on. Don't be clueless and pester the bridge tender after 10 other boats already have.
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Old 02-08-2011, 19:00   #14
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

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Most bridge tenders are power mad and evil. Really.
I hope you are joking. I've done the ICW or good chunks of it around 15-20 times (lost count) from Norfolk to Miami, always in sailboats, and have therefore had to go through lots of opening bridges and it is really hard to remember any problems. The worst times were probably some slow openers in places with a lot of current, like leaving Boca Raton or around Venice on the West Coast. They can be a bit hairy, but the bridge tender has to wait for things happening up on the roadway too--he can't just do the bidding of every sailboat that comes along regardless of how inconvenient or dangerous it is to someone else. I do hear some grumbling from folks who seem to think the operations of the Waterway should all conform to their convenience. If that is your attitude I suspect you will be disappointed.
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Old 02-08-2011, 19:45   #15
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Re: Draw Bridge Experience

Maybe the bridge tender was having a particularly shitty day dealing with beligerent boaters and closing the bridge on you made him feel a little better. Console yourself with that and get on with your pleasure cruise. A tempest in a tea pot. Get over it. You should have been in contact prior to having to take drastic action. Your own fault. Not to be rude, but I have specific knowledge and experience in dealing with the boating public and commercial navigation on a large scale. Pleasure boaters can be a royal pain in the ass, thinking they own the waterways and have some kind of divine edict for preferential treatment. Sorry, it ain't so. Grow up. As long as I'm on this rant.....Many years ago a fellow was waved away and had to wait for a towboat with fifteen barges to get through a lock on the upper Mississippi River. When he got into the lock chamber, he asked the Lockman, "Do you know who I am? I'm ----- ------ and I have a company worth millions of dollars". The Lockman looked him straight in the eye and said, "Well, my name's ------ ------. I have fifty cents in my pocket and i'm just as good as you,".
Just wanted to add a different perspective to this conversation.
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