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Old 09-14-2006
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Bridge clearance on ICW

I understand the bridges on the ICW are supposed to allow a 65' clearance, but have been told that isn't always the case. Is there anyone with any experience lately about what to expect?

I was on a boat recently with almost 64' mast height. We had read that the bridge above Belhaven NC on the Alligator River (not sure of mile marker) was possibly below that clearance, depending on the tide. That was enough for us not to go through there. Does anyone have any experience on ICW for the clearance?

And also, has anyone ever hit a bridge? What were the consequences? I guess if you lost just a windvane you'd be relieved, but its not something I ever want to experience if I can avoid it.
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Old 09-14-2006
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LOL "...has anyone ever hit a bridge?" I was living in Pensacola years ago when a barge hit the bridge going over to Pensacola Beach during the night. The bridge was out for months, and people were commuting by boat - and literally within 12 hours there were tee shirts for sale that said, "I was there when the ship hit the span!" Probably not a good thing from anybody's standpoint to hit a bridge...

I looked at Skipper Bob's "Anchorages along the ICW" for info on the bridge at Bellhaven. He doesn't have any notation about the bridge height being too low, but the chart does show the Wilkerson Bridge (Alligator River at Pungo River) to have a 64' clearance. (I thought all the high rise bridges at least a 63', not 65'?)
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Old 09-14-2006
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I have been through all those bridges with a 64' stick and never even scraped. (Most recently in April). You DO have to pay attention to unusually high water in the rivers and bays generated by tropical storms/hurricanes and then the clearance will drop. Ernesto raised the water by a couple of feet for 4-5 days after the storm as all that fresh water tried to make its way back to sea. Other than that...in normal conditions you should have no problems as the bridge boards and markers are notoriously innaccurate. Just count on 64' all the way down to Miami's Julia Tuttle bridege UNLESS there are extreme high water conditions.

I do know a guy with a 67' mast who tried to make it from Norfolk to Beaufort inside...didn't make it! He was lucky only to take off all the instruments and did some damage to the mast head as he was going dead slow at the time...could have been a lot worse. He figured the tide would help him get through despite the warnings but it only runs about 6 inches there!
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Old 09-14-2006
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Many of the bridges (or most) are 65+... but that is NOT always true. The ICW on the west side of Florida and around is 55 feet. The enterance past Sanibel that was a draw bridge has now been changed to a 70' fixed, but the next bridge up in Cape Coral is 55 feet.

Better check your maps closely depending on where you are going.
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Old 09-14-2006
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C-Dad...I said to MIAMI....the left coast draft and height restictions are vastly different.
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Old 09-14-2006
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Cam,

I was not referring to you, but commenting on assumption that ICW means 65 foot clearance. It does not. I will also tell you from experience it also does not mean 7.5' depth.

By the way, I have heard you can make it under a low bridge if you go really, really fast!! HAHA! Had a sailboat try that on the enterance into Mantanzas Pass. Bent the stick all the way back. Not pretty. I would be absolutely amazed if someone was not really hurt!
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Old 09-14-2006
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Guide to Help

PT:
Crewed on a northbound boat from NC to Norfolk.
The gang has already mentioned the key points..........many but not all bridges have Clearance height (calculated by using the water level) marks on pilings, etc near the bridge ..........some are brightly painted others suffer from wear & tear.

It can be nerve racking if it's close (like us)..........the water is moving, there are often lights & bridge supports hanging down below the max height........so we had to dodge then as we aimed for the highest section of each span.....................after that it was just timing & communicating (if necessary) with manned bridges

I used a cruising handbook = The Intracoastal Waterway - Norfolk to Miami by Jan & Bill Moeller. It worked real well & was very accurate. It tracks the whole route by milemarkers. Also includes info on marinas, fuel, sights, etc.
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Old 09-14-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
...By the way, I have heard you can make it under a low bridge if you go really, really fast!!
Gotta love it! I'll try that one
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C-Dad...oops sorry...wrong assumption!
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Old 09-16-2006
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we came down to the mouth of the cape fear river with a 54' mast on a Jeanneau ds40 - only problem is tuttle bridge in miami which is 56' -did not want to even try it -
if you are truely 64' then your i might be more concerned with the draft as some locations on the icw are getting a bit shallow -- if you do try it make sure your BOATUS coverage for unlimited towing in paid up.
chuck and soulmates
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