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Old 04-14-2014, 10:09 PM   #81
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It's a 3' antenna on top of the mast. Yes, the mast holds all of my navigation equipment and the cargo boom.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:23 PM   #82
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We've got this large mast with the antenna on top, creating a 28' air draft.

The mast holds the cargo boom and is a pain to drop. There is a large bolt that must be removed along with 4 guy-wires, then it's a two-person job to hinge it back.

With the mast dropped I get to 16' air draft. After that, if we dropping the bimini we can get to 13'.

Is it reasonable for a bridge tender to expect me to go through all this? We can do it but just asking what may be expected.

BTW, some GREAT information on this thread. Thanks to all.
No vessel owner or operator shall—

(a) Signal a drawbridge to open if the vertical clearance is sufficient to allow the vessel, after all lowerable nonstructural vessel appurtenances that are not essential to navigation have been lowered, to safely pass under the drawbridge in the closed position


Now this is where it gets complicated and subject to interpretation. In my opinion, an antenna is lowerable but the mast isn't. Now, certainly we know it can be lowered, but can it be lowered and raised safely while on the water? If so then does one need to unbolt radar arches and lower them?

However, individual tenders do interpret this differently. Often this is just their lack of understanding. For instance one sail boat might step a mast easily while another requires a crane.

I personally haven't been involved where tenders insist on a mast being lowered, but I've read of those rare occasions. Certainly do not volunteer or offer that it's possible for you to lower it.

I will be interested in knowing what others have encountered.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:26 PM   #83
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It's a 3' antenna on top of the mast. Yes, the mast holds all of my navigation equipment and the cargo boom.
I consider that permanently affixed. Obviously anything can be lowered. Get a crane, unbolt the flybridge and it can be removed. Where I've seen the tenders get upset is antennas and even there in South Florida they often don't insist but just try to wait to let you go through on an opening with others if others are approaching.
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Old 04-14-2014, 11:57 PM   #84
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I've only had favorable encounters with bridge tenders. Sorry, no horror stories.



Except maybe a 45-minute delay at the D-street bridge in Petaluma. The bridge tender (city employee) eventually showed up. (I rafted up with a docked tugboat. Fellow boaters anchored or idled about.)

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Old 04-15-2014, 08:05 AM   #85
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Uh Mark, neither of those bridges are on the South FL ICW... or within 2500 miles of it! Neither carries anywhere remotely near the kind of car traffic, let alone passing boat traffic.

If you have to open them, you'll find as you venture a little farther afield up the Delta, that some of the swing bridges and the Highway 12 bridges across the Sacto in Rio Vista and Moke will be a little more particular as to how quickly they open for you.
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Old 04-15-2014, 08:24 AM   #86
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It's a 3' antenna on top of the mast. Yes, the mast holds all of my navigation equipment and the cargo boom.
No, you won't have to lower your mast, nor climb up there to lower an antenna mounted to it. 28ft is an awkward height; there are quite a few 25-27 footers. The Hatt can get down to 23 antennas lowered and I loved those 25+ footers.
The morning guy at the Andrews Avenue bridge on the New River (not on the ICW) in downtown FLL always gave me a little good natured grief that he thought I could get under when he was showing 23. I told him I wasn't that brave nor did I think he wanted to buy me a new radar. Somehow he remembered that, out of the thousands of boats that pass through there, and every time we came through for the next few years, maybe 4-6 times a year, he'd ask me if my radar got any skinnier since the last time. I have to say the whole crew on the New River bridges is the best of the best, dealing with incredible car and boat traffic and a waterway that gets very tight and twisty.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:16 AM   #87
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What are the actual regulations? And what is the "safety factor"? If my air draft is 13' 6" and the tide board reads 14', is it permitted to request an opening?
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:36 AM   #88
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The Blackburn swing bridge on the GICW tender gave me a hard time about opening. The bridge has a 9' clearance. My air draft is 13' with a fixed mast. The "lady" bridge tender insisted that I could get under. I refused to try. After circling around for several minutes while arguing, she said, "I'm taking your picture and writing you up".

I said, "go ahead. I am going to the USCG station for measurement, and make you look stupid". I didn't hear anymore from it. After that she promptly opened several other times without comment.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:10 AM   #89
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What are the actual regulations? And what is the "safety factor"? If my air draft is 13' 6" and the tide board reads 14', is it permitted to request an opening?
They can't demand for you to proceed through the bridge. You're the only one in command. They can submit a citation which carries a $10,000 fine in Florida - probably similar in other states. But you get a chance to address the allegations and safety margin with wakes and wind will do it unless it's a gross overstatement.

In reality, this is a question for your insurance company. From my understanding, you are not covered if you decided to proceed under a bridge and hit it from above. I also learned that if there is a NTM about a partial opening and you proceed through and hit the bridge in any way because of the partial opening, you are not covered. It didn't happen to us but it did happen to another boat owner I talked to.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:21 AM   #90
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They can't demand for you to proceed through the bridge. You're the only one in command. ............
I may be in command of my boat but the bridge tender is in command of the bridge.

Personally, I've never had a problem with a bridge tender except for being slower to open than I would have liked, but I have heard some pretty animated and agitated conversations between bridge tenders and boat captains on the radio. The bridge tender wins every time.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:25 AM   #91
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What are the actual regulations? And what is the "safety factor"? If my air draft is 13' 6" and the tide board reads 14', is it permitted to request an opening?
The only regulation is that you can't request an opening if you can make it through without one. However, yours is a judgement call and I'd call it too close for comfort. One nice wake along the way, slight error in the tide board, less load on your boat than when 13'6" determined all make it too close. I'd simply say if asked that I was just a little too tall. On the other hand if you had full fuel, full water, heavy load and passengers and you had crew to watch closely plus you had no current and the ability to edge close and back off if necessary, then you might want to check.

We intend to only go under one very close bridge in our lives and that will be the Chicago Canal at 19'2" which doesn't open and to which there is no alternative. Otherwise safety rules.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:31 AM   #92
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One bridge in Florida did say to me..."if you're not sure cap, we like to give a 2 foot safety margin"

One issue is the "additional XX feet in the center"...they can't make you go by that...some have optical measuring to see if you will clear...most of the ones I asked in Ga and Fla said they were prohibited from giving that info (though some do)...so I say I'm not comfortable and they open.

The Figure 8 Island Bridge tender thought I could make it and he came down to his catwalk and helped me eyeball it...he was right on with his guestimate and when I cleared we both agreed on what I missed by.

I wouldn't swear by ALL tideboards but may are accurate enough to within a foot or so. Even the bridgetenders that argued with me about clearance have opened when I said I was uncomfortable.

Bridges that haven't answered being called usually call me right after I call the USCG on 16 and ask if that bridge is manned and in operation....obviously I do give a reasonable delay time and several calls first.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:39 AM   #93
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I may be in command of my boat but the bridge tender is in command of the bridge.
They can't refuse to open the bridge because they think you can pass through. They can only cite you for a fine.

We need 20' of height to clear a bridge with our antennas down. I've had many conversations with bridge tenders showing 21-22' on height boards in windy/wake conditions where they gladly understood and opened the bridge without question.

One additional point. In Florida, all height boards on all bridges mark "low steel" which is usually on the sides of the opening. Many bridges are arched and provide 3-4 feet of additional clearance in the center. Even just over the last month I've passed under a few bridges showing 18-19' on the height board with no problem. But you can also refuse to pass under a bridge based on the height board reading alone. If there's ever an issue/argument, take a picture of the height board with time/date showing. They cannot demand that you pass under the bridge perfectly centered.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:42 AM   #94
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I go under two drawbridges whenever I leave my river for the ICW. They are together for the same road. One is listed at 14', the other at 16'. Why, I don't know, you have to pass under both. There are no tide boards because they are not directly on the ICW and if you call the bridge tender your answer will be 14' and 16' regardless of the state of the tide (there's about a 6' range).

Since I can't get a straight answer, I put my bimini and antenna down unless it's close to low tide.

I've always wondered, is that clearance in the middle of the arched bridge or at the sides?
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:10 AM   #95
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It's ALWAYS supposed to mark "low steel" or minimum navigational clearance....but I wouldn't bet my mast on it.
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:28 PM   #96
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We've never encountered a real issue with a bridge tender personally. Most of those we've seen have been started by a boat owner being rude to the tender so the tender decides to show him who is in charge. The last one I heard the boat owner was yelling over the opening being late and not getting an answer, then cursed the tender. The tender explained nicely that he was away from his station due to an older lady whose car was stopped and that had he not gone to help her the bridge would never have opened. Then he added, "Now I'll open it when the first courteous captain arrives and requests me do so." We were approaching but waited to ask just so we could watch it play out. The tender saw us and asked if we were needing it opened. We said we were in no hurry, just when he had time. He said, "Well, for you I'll make time." Then he spoke to the other boat and told him he could follow us through but he did mean follow as we were to be allowed to proceed first.

I think South Florida tenders are use to a lot of traffic and very cooperative. The ones that seem grouchier and more demanding seem to me to be on the lesser traveled paths and more in North Carolina especially (and I'm not speaking negatively of NC as I was born there and lived there until 2012). Some of it is just the Outer Banks crustiness I think. They'll do anything for fishing vessels, just not as loving of "yachts."

One in particular that we'd been through before was giving a sail boat a very hard time. My wife called him and said "I have some delicious chocolate cake here for you if you'll be nice for a few minutes. We'll pull to the dock on the other side and run it up to you, but only if you're nice for the next ten minutes." He laughed and spoke to the sail boat and said, "Com'on through. I'm not goin make you take that thing down cause this pretty lady's bribing me with cake so you com'on and have a nice day."

Now she talked to the tender when we took the cake. Asked him what was wrong. He told her that earlier in the day a sailboat had come through sail up, gotten turned around under the bridge, gone to the side, finally corrected after a bit and got through after over ten minutes. That he lacked the experience to adjust to the fact that the bridge structure blocked all wind and what little was under there was more circling than blowing in any direction. So all the tender really wanted was for the sailboat to have it's motor running just in case. He wasn't trying to get them to take the sail down. Just motorsail if necessary.

When I was young, we went fishing with a guide from Duck, NC in the Currituck sound. His house was the 4th house after the road ran out. He was in his mid 70's but his motor was in the shop so he poled all day. Accent was almost British. Drove my father crazy first for no motor and then as he'd make noise and commotion and call the fish up. We loaded the boat and had the time of our lives with him.

All I'm saying is that some of the tenders are just a different breed. They've been there for decades and almost like to them they own the bridge and you're their guest if they choose to let you in. But they're mostly nice in just their own way.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:52 PM   #97
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...
When I was young, we went fishing with a guide from Duck, NC in the Currituck sound. His house was the 4th house after the road ran out. He was in his mid 70's but his motor was in the shop so he poled all day. Accent was almost British. Drove my father crazy first for no motor and then as he'd make noise and commotion and call the fish up. We loaded the boat and had the time of our lives with him.
...
I read/heard a reports decades ago about the accents on the Outer Banks of NC. Until recently, the area was very isolated and the language and accent of the people who had lived on the islands for generations was very similar to Shakespearean English. I think the NC mountains were similar in some ways.

Course with easier access, TV, radio, etc, these old regional accents are disappearing as a result.

I have lived in a few places, even worked for a UK company once upon a time and have a pretty good ear for understanding accents. Having said that, on one of my first trips to NC, I heard a guy talking who I could not understand. He was from a rural part of NC and he was more difficult to understand than the coworker I had from Liverpool...

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Old 04-15-2014, 02:13 PM   #98
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They can't refuse to open the bridge because they think you can pass through. They can only cite you for a fine.

We need 20' of height to clear a bridge with our antennas down. I've had many conversations with bridge tenders showing 21-22' on height boards in windy/wake conditions where they gladly understood and opened the bridge without question.

One additional point. In Florida, all height boards on all bridges mark "low steel" which is usually on the sides of the opening. Many bridges are arched and provide 3-4 feet of additional clearance in the center. Even just over the last month I've passed under a few bridges showing 18-19' on the height board with no problem. But you can also refuse to pass under a bridge based on the height board reading alone. If there's ever an issue/argument, take a picture of the height board with time/date showing. They cannot demand that you pass under the bridge perfectly centered.
The relevant arched bridges all show clearance at center on the charts.
Did they dispense with the signs that used to be on the bridge indicating how many feet are additional at center?
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:24 PM   #99
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I go under two drawbridges whenever I leave my river for the ICW. They are together for the same road. One is listed at 14', the other at 16'. Why, I don't know, you have to pass under both. There are no tide boards because they are not directly on the ICW and if you call the bridge tender your answer will be 14' and 16' regardless of the state of the tide (there's about a 6' range).

Since I can't get a straight answer, I put my bimini and antenna down unless it's close to low tide.

I've always wondered, is that clearance in the middle of the arched bridge or at the sides?
Ron I am pretty sure I know which bridges on the Ashley you are talking about (Route 17?). There's another higher bridge right after them, that is charted as 18 ft but noted on the chart to be 50ft at center. Your bridges are charted as 14ft. You oughta go through at slack tide sometime and put a tape to 'em.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:30 PM   #100
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Ron I am pretty sure I know which bridges on the Ashley you are talking about (Route 17?). There's another higher bridge right after them, that is charted as 18 ft but noted on the chart to be 50ft at center. Your bridges are charted as 14ft. You oughta go through at slack tide sometime and put a tape to 'em.
Those are the bridges. The next one causes large sailboats a lot of grief because it's not 65' high. It doesn't bother me though.

I thought of putting a pole on my boat and going through at high tide to see if it hits but that's been six years and I haven't gotten around to it yet. And of course, some high tides are higher than others.
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