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Old 20-12-2009, 16:11   #1
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Bridges Opening on Set Schedules - Still Need to Call Ahead?

Something I've been wondering...obviously it's necessary to call for a bridge opening for bridges opening on demand, but if a bridge has a set opening schedule, say, every hour, or four times daily, is it customary to call ahead to make contact with the bridge tender? Or just show up a little prior to the opening time?

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Old 20-12-2009, 16:50   #2
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I always just showed up. I then would call on vhf, say a friendly hello, and double check the opening time was what I thought it was.
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Old 20-12-2009, 17:08   #3
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I was on a boat that made that mistake a few years ago, so I got to learn from his. He showed up about 5 minutes before a scheduled opening on the hour and held station about 200 Feet short of the bridge. When about 3 minutes after the hour it had not yet opened he called the tender who propmly informed him that he had not requested an opening and would now have to wait until the next scheduled opening! Lesson: Always contact the bridge tender.
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Old 20-12-2009, 17:22   #4
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Yeah that sounds like some of the bridge tenders in NC. I have arrived 2 min late and they would not delay the opening that long for me to get there even when asked. If your not there exactly on time forget it!

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Old 20-12-2009, 17:33   #5
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Very helpful responses, thanks!

BTW, Captain Bill, we are marina neighbors...our Catalina 30, Logos, is just down the dock from you in slip 20.

Cheers!
Emily
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Old 20-12-2009, 17:38   #6
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That actually happened in Florida, but I know what you mean about the NC bridge tenders. I was once coming up the Neuse river and needed the swing bridge at the entrance to the Trent river to open. It opens only on the half hour in the summer. I was coming under the highway 55 bridge on the Neuse at 1 minute before 5 so I called and requested an opening. I've been through this bridge many times and know it takes a good 3-3.5 minutes from the time they start the flashers and lower the safety gates until it is open enough to get my cat through. The guy refused to open the bridge, Said I wasn't close enough. I chopped my throttles and stopped 150 feet off the bridge at exactly 5:02 GPS time. If that guy would have started the opening process at exactly 5:00 I would have still had to wait to get through the bridge.
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Old 20-12-2009, 17:41   #7
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It's good to know were neighbors, I look for you next time we're down there.
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Old 20-12-2009, 19:02   #8
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I was on a boat that made that mistake a few years ago, so I got to learn from his. He showed up about 5 minutes before a scheduled opening on the hour and held station about 200 Feet short of the bridge. When about 3 minutes after the hour it had not yet opened he called the tender who propmly informed him that he had not requested an opening and would now have to wait until the next scheduled opening! Lesson: Always contact the bridge tender.

Yup! I've seen/heard this almost happen as well.. at my bridge

In this case the bridge tender hailed the vessel and asked if it was waiting for an opening. When the vessel responded, Yes. The bridge operator responded saying..." Skipper, I'm not a mind reader, you gotta let me know, I don't raise this bridge for the clock"

I once sailed from the cape fear river, to the St Johns River and missed the bridge in Jacksonville by 2 minutes once......
" No Skipper, we cannot open for you, and by the way...this was the last opening (6pm) for the day....we'll see you in the morning"

Luckily they allow you to tie up for free in downtown Jax.
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Old 20-12-2009, 19:09   #9
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I remember the days when you could run the ICW and all bridges were on demand. The good ol days lol.

Maybe I should not admit that it dates me

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Old 20-12-2009, 19:18   #10
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All the above sceniros have happened to us as well, including an On Demand being changed to timed openings only, and the On Demand shows in the current issue of the Waterway Guide. Always good to call
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Old 20-12-2009, 19:35   #11
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I have to say that not all bridge tenders are jerks. I had a bridge tender near Ponce De Leon inlet in Fl, once hold a bridge open for about two minutes so that I did not have to wait an hour. I thought I was going to be late as I was a ways from the bridge when the last of the group that had been waiting there went through. The tender called me on the radio and told me if I would go to full speed she would hold the bridge open. I did and she held it for about two minutes until we could get through. Some of these people are really great. It kind of makes up for the bad ones. The scheduled opening is still on demand. They won't open it if you don't request it, as my buddy found out. I guess it's now "scheduled on demand".
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Old 20-12-2009, 21:25   #12
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Whats with all these angry East Coast bridge operators?

The ones here up in the SF Bay Delta are the coolest bunch of people. They invite a short little conversation. I think they just sit up there all day watching TV. A boat that needs an opening breaks up the boredom.
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Old 20-12-2009, 21:39   #13
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Whats with all these angry East Coast bridge operators?

The ones here up in the SF Bay Delta are the coolest bunch of people. They invite a short little conversation. I think they just sit up there all day watching TV. A boat that needs an opening breaks up the boredom.
I have done almost 2000 miles of intracoastal from New Jersey to the Keys. I never had a bad experience. I had some better than others, though. And I have heard some stories of bad ones.

The bridges that open on a schedule are done that way for the convenience of the road traffic, not the boat traffic. You have to remember, there are a lot of boats out there just putzing around. They may be going as far as the bridge, and then just sitting there to watch it open, and then go back the way they came. The bridge operator does not know which ones want to go through. So they depend on you to let them know. If no one wants to go through, why should they inconvenience the road traffic and cause wear and tear on the bridge by raising it?

So, always let the operator know you are looking for passage. Tell them your name, type of vessel, current location and direction and speed of travel.

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Old 20-12-2009, 21:46   #14
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Capt Bill,

I agree! I certainly didn't mean to infer that any of them were jerks. I have had mostly good experiences in my 27 years of sailing. I find more jerks behind the wheel of a boat...:-)

I had just arrived at my home port after 2 weeks cruising, and got to the bridge 45 minutes before it's scheduled opening..this past summer....the winds had picked up pretty good, there was a 3 to 4 foot chop in the bay and the current was running.
I was tired..hungry and thirsty...
I called on the 1/2 hr..just to alert the tender that I wanted an opening but was going to stand off a bit for safety.....roger...roger...

a few minutes before the hour, as I was making my approach, another vessel 15 minutes away...started calling in...telling him that they wanted an opening and they would make it on time....and could he hold the bridge.......He saw them and how far out they were and replied that he couldn't hold it......that I had been out there in rough conditions for 45 minutes and he wasn't going to make me wait.....She kept protesting...back and forth.....back and forth...

..finally, I got on the radio, and told the tender that if he was willing to hold for them, I would be fine....he did....They followed me in...all the way to my marina, pulled into a slip....and never waved, never called on the radio..nothing....not a word of thanks to the tender or me.......oh to be so special!..
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