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Old 01-03-2012, 15:57   #1
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Bridge Opening on Intercoastal

New boat owner. Will be sailing North on Intercoastal from Tampa Bay. We have a documented boat, What is proper way to get bridge to open? How do I find out what channel they monitor? Thanks
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:13   #2
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

Here is a link to bridge opening information/procedure.
Dealing with bridges - SailNet Community
Lots of good advice all through this thread.
My experience is that, for the most part, the bridge tenders are pros that will do what they can to expedite transit, especially if the conditions are extreme. i.e., you are downbound in a strong current, gusty winds, etc. They sometimes are operating with strict scheduling "orders" and can't always operate "on demand" unless you are carrying HAZMAT, a tug pulling 1000' of dredge pipe or are a LNG tanker.
If you get no response after several hails, try calling the local Coast Guard Station via VHF that covers the area, explain who and where you are, what you need, and ask them to ping the bridge via land line and tell them you are standing by on Channel 16/13/9 for the bridge response. That, by itself, sometimes gets you the response from the bridge or they may be able to give you a reason for the lack of response. (tender is greasing the bilge nuts, fetching 100' of shore line, etc.)
That has worked well for me in the past.
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:27   #3
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

Pretty much all of them on the east coast of FL open at specific times. Most of the time it is unecessary to call them if they can see you..... an ICW guide is invaluable for timing your runs between bridges....
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:48   #4
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

In Florida it is VHF Channel 09. Request an opening like this:

"Bridge of Lions, Bridge of Lions, this is the northbound sailboat Minke requesting an opening."

The bridge should answer you on the same channel.

The schedules are printed in my chartbooks and other guides, and are available online. You need the schedule, as they generally will not open unless at the specific time. If you're headed north up the East Coast it changes to Channel 13 in North Carolina.
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Old 01-03-2012, 16:50   #5
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

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Most of the time it is unecessary to call them if they can see you.
That is incorrect and dangerous. Always establish contact with the bridge tender, whether or not you are there at the right time, and whether or not you are the fifth boat in line. They are not mind readers. They don't know if you are there for the bridge, just waiting for someone else, planning on turning around, or whatever. Call and let them know exactly what you want to do.
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Old 01-03-2012, 17:20   #6
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

Active Captain is a good online resource for your journey. activecaptain dot com.

Gives the bridge opening times, proper name, and local "nickname" for the bridges.

Also, for what it's worth, it's a pleasant day sail from Tampa Bay to Anclote Key anchorage on the outside. Low anxiety and only trick is the entrance channel on the south side of the island to make the protected anchorage.

North side of the channel is shoaling when I was there, so staying on the south side of the channel is prudent. Short channel, through in no time.

How far north are you going?
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Old 01-03-2012, 17:53   #7
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

Kettlewell has it RIGHT !! always establish radio contact with the bridge tender or you mite have to wait !! Bob and Connie
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Old 01-03-2012, 18:18   #8
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

Thank You Kettlewell. You have to respect all bridge tenders or they will make your life hell. They are good people if you treat them like that.
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Old 01-03-2012, 19:39   #9
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

The Coast Pilot for the area has all the information you're looking for, for every bridge.

United States Coast Pilot®
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:50   #10
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Re: bridge opening on Intercoastal

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
That is incorrect and dangerous. Always establish contact with the bridge tender, whether or not you are there at the right time, and whether or not you are the fifth boat in line. They are not mind readers. They don't know if you are there for the bridge, just waiting for someone else, planning on turning around, or whatever. Call and let them know exactly what you want to do.
Yeah, you're probably right about that. If I'm the only boat, I usually call unless I've been circling around and he's waved at me. If there's other boats I usually dont. Often they dont answer.. maybe 15% of the time in my experience... probably on their cell or texting!!! ha.
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