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Old 08-10-2013, 07:59   #1
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64' 4" Mast and the ICW

My wife and I are hoping to sail to The Bahama's next Sept from Toronto.
We have a 1996 Tartan 4600 which is perfect. It has. Center Board drawing 4' 9" when raised. The possible problem is our 64' 4" mast. My wife does not want to sail at night.
I would like some advice especially from sailors with 64' + masts.

Bill
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:22   #2
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Bill.

The official overhead clearance along the Intracoastal Waterway is 65 feet above mean high water. However, the Julia Tuttle Bridge in Miami (mile marker 1087.2), with a fixed clearance of 56 feet, is an exception.
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:23   #3
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

In 35,000 sea miles together the only time I frightened my wife was sneaking a mast with 6 inches of clearance under a ICW bridge. I had to steer around the center light which would not have been possible if I had not had the current in my face and that I did it at low springs. The VHF antenna was bent double!

The Tuttle between Miami and Lauderdale is only 56 ft.

Good luck
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:49   #4
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

This guy had an interesting approach to the issue of low bridges & tall masts, but I'm not sure that I would want to rely on his method to get me through the ICW.

That aside, I have found that no single chart has given me all the information that I wanted on the ICW in my area (South Florida). I find that the Top Spot charts have a lot of useful waypoints pre-plotted. I find that the laminated coastal chart kits from West Marine have much better information about the bridges themselves. There are a lot of bascule bridges (draw bridges) that need to be opened to let a sailboat pass.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:15   #5
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

The Julia Tuttle Bridge is easily avoided by a short daylight hop outside from Lauderdale to Miami- Government Cut.

But, there is also a fixed bridge at the southwest end of the Alligator/Pungo Canal in North Carolina. I went through a few weeks ago in a 10-15 knot N wind (usually drives the water up) and the tide board was showing 63.5 feet. There is no tide in this part of the ICW, it is all wind driven.

There is another way around this obsticale. Heading south after you enter the Albermarle Sound, turn east into the Roanoke Sound and pass Manteo and Wanchese to the east. You have to stay in the channels as it is shallow on either side and you still have a fixed bridge to contend with, but it is 65'. Then sail down the Pamlico Sound past Oriental and into Adams Creek to Beaufort.

Cruising the ICW with a 64.5' mast height will always be a challenge. You will have to play the wind and the tide and always check the tideboards before going under any 65' bridge.

David
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:34   #6
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

We live in a condo overlooking the ICW just north of Seabreeze bridge Daytona Beach and every morning take an exercise walk up to the middle highest point. The tide gauge on the channel guide below consistently reads 62 regardless it seems of tide height changes, so presumably there is more actual clearance in the dead center?? Our air draught is recorded as 50ft with masthead aerials included so it is largely academic for us but I just wonder why the height gauge never shows more than 62ft it seems unless that is a figure reflecting the minimum anywhere under that arch at that time if you miss top dead centre?
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:34   #7
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

Also check with the Local Notices to Mariners or certain websites (hint, hint) for info on lowered clearances due to construction, etc... For example, the bridge at Snows Cut (Carolina Beach NC) will have a periodic reduction to 59 feet until January 2014 (shouldn't affect you since you're not leaving until next year, but check for other issues). And the bridge that David noted above is really only about 64'. But your boat might be "tender" enough to easily do the heel trick that pbiJim shows above.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:41   #8
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

Oh, and the Blue Heron Bridge in Lake Worth...you need to use the east side to get the 65' even though you'll feel like you're on the wrong side of the road going south. The west side has only 63'. Don't forget to always check the tide boards!
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:58   #9
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

I did the ICW from North Carolina (Wrightsville Beach) south to Ft Lauderdale with a mast of just under 65 ft. (actually the VHF antenna was more like 3 ft over that). The VHF antenna bnags on a few girders, but actually most of the time even it cleared. Know your bridges. Watch for currents near the bridges... once you get close you may be going through whether you want to or not.
At Wrightsville beach we entered the waterway, the first fixed bridge is at Crab Cut.... we were pretty up tight about the bridge height situation. As we entered the cut very slowly the current grabbed us and suddenly we were moving like 4-5 knots toward the bridge. At the last minute I put the boat in reverse to slow us to a near stop, that didnt work... the boat turned sideways and we went under the bridge sideways! the only thing that touched the bridge was the VHF antenna.....

Actually..... we went outside occassionally, so I guess we didnt do all the bridges. But you can rely if they say they are 65 feet ... they are... have good binoc's, for waterway markers and for bridge tide gauges.
Oh... and buy the waterway guide... best thing avail for the ICW.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:09   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Bill. The official overhead clearance along the Intracoastal Waterway is 65 feet above mean high water. However, the Julia Tuttle Bridge in Miami (mile marker 1087.2), with a fixed clearance of 56 feet, is an exception.
I always wondered if the engineers mistype it in their drawings......
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:20   #11
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

Quote:
Originally Posted by IrishmistIII View Post
My wife and I are hoping to sail to The Bahama's next Sept from Toronto.
We have a 1996 Tartan 4600 which is perfect. It has. Center Board drawing 4' 9" when raised. The possible problem is our 64' 4" mast. My wife does not want to sail at night.
I would like some advice especially from sailors with 64' + masts.

Bill
We did most of the ICW with a 64 ft and a bit mast.W thought we were only 62ft as that's what the spec said and found out the hard way and then measured. Lost our vhf aerial to a bridge in the Dismal Swamp. We'd passed under a couple of 65ft bridges with no problem so suspect we hit something hanging down below this particular bridge. After that we went very slowly and timed things for low tide.

Think we went outside from Beaufort SC to Charleston as the tidal range there isn't that great.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:31   #12
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

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I always wondered if the engineers mistype it in their drawings......
Ha! could be, I had a dyslexic Engineer work for me for a while. It took extra careful work checking his stuff....
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:00   #13
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

The ICW bridges in the Daytona Beach, FL area all consistently read 63-64'. I wrote the CG a letter to clarify what the deal was. They said these bridge gauges read low steel, meaning the lowest point. However, they do not tell you how much additional clearance there is in the center at the highest point. I, like you have a 64.5' mast. It is very frustrating because for these bridges, there is no accurate data to get exact height at center. For this reason, I am careful to only go through at low tide and read the gauges. I record the gauge reading when I pass under and note in the log if my antenna touches or not. So far, I have made it through without contact, but it is a nail biter every time.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:36   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IrishmistIII View Post
My wife and I are hoping to sail to The Bahama's next Sept from Toronto. We have a 1996 Tartan 4600 which is perfect. It has. Center Board drawing 4' 9" when raised. The possible problem is our 64' 4" mast. My wife does not want to sail at night. I would like some advice especially from sailors with 64' + masts. Bill
The depth boards between Jax and Fort Pierce lie. We had 64.5' bridge clearance plus masthead fruit and on some bridges showing 68' we pinged the VHF antenna and on others showing 65 we didn't touch.
Daytona was particularly nerve wracking at night.
Good luck
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Old 08-10-2013, 15:09   #15
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Re: 64' 4" Mast and the ICW

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Originally Posted by Capt.Alex View Post
The ICW bridges in the Daytona Beach, FL area all consistently read 63-64'. I wrote the CG a letter to clarify what the deal was. They said these bridge gauges read low steel, meaning the lowest point. However, they do not tell you how much additional clearance there is in the center at the highest point. I, like you have a 64.5' mast. It is very frustrating because for these bridges, there is no accurate data to get exact height at center. For this reason, I am careful to only go through at low tide and read the gauges. I record the gauge reading when I pass under and note in the log if my antenna touches or not. So far, I have made it through without contact, but it is a nail biter every time.
When we first arrived here and were living on our then trawler motor vessel, I called 'Main Street bridge in Daytona on the VHF because we needed 22ft clearance and the gauge said 22ft, so I asked them to lift for us, The Bridge control lady refused saying we had plenty of clearance so I went very slowly and nervously through with the bridge lady saying 'see you had plenty of clearance. Friends later said next time say' OK we assume that you have adequate insurance to cover us for any damage or injury if you are wrong' which usually gets their attention and they will raise it.... Of course had we been a sailboat as we are again now, there would have been no argument and they would have had to lift. Sailboats have the advantage of being seen from farther away and the pointy bit sticking up clearly says we need the lift

THE iCW is making me very claustrophobic, both vertically and horizontally, I am feeling a bit 'trapped' and longing for the open waters of the ocean like we were used to for years and years over on the other side of the pond with just the ships to fret over
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