How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening? - SailNet Community

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Old 08-05-2013
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How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

I would appreciate any tips on how to wait for a bridge opening.

Let's say you just missed a bridge opening in a narrow channel and needed to wait 20 minutes for the next one. The wind is at a right angle to the current, making just sitting still difficult at best, and motor boat traffic is going by in both directions.

What meathods do you use to "stand by"?
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

Some of the bridges have space enough where I've actually thrown in the lunch hook to wait and had a cup of coffee. It's not like there's boat traffic when the bridge is closed. You can usually just idle, putting the boat in gear every now and then to maintain position. It's really not a big concern.

Some bridges in high traffic spots with heavy current can be contacted when you're still a long way off, some require you make early contact. With GPS technology you can tell EXACTLY, to the minute when you will be there so they are waiting to open up. If on the hour and half-hour, you can also vary your speed to arrive at the right time. It makes no sense to speed up to a bridge and then have to wait a long time.
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

If you are up-stream/current of the bridge, sail away from it for a good ways, tack to a hove-too attitude and let the yacht drift back down with the current. You can tell how long it takes to cover the distance from your tacking point to the vicinity of the bridge (leaving yourself a safe margin of course) tack back and repeat the exercise, sailing away far enough that your next lap will bring you back to the bridge at about the time of opening. The process is the same on the down-stream/current side although there, of course, you'll heave too in the vicinity of the bridge and drift away from, rather than toward, the bridge. For what its worth, you'll want to roll up you head sail, tighten up the main and motor through the bridge when the time comes.

FWIW...
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

Tie up, tie off, anchor (lunch hook) or head back away from the bridge for ten minutes then come back down. If all else fails, drift down under the bridge and let it hold you by the mast. [kidding!]

Your options really will depend on the exact details of the situation.
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

For bridges that have scheduled openings ... use your chartplotter !!!!!

.... set the bridge as a temporary waypoint and activate 'go to' for that waypoint. Adjust your speed, up or down, so that you arrive AT near the bridge AT or very slightly before (~ a minute before) the designated ETA time matched to the opening time.
That will insure the least amount of 'wait time' AT the bridge; your boat will be mostly moving towards the bridge and thus you will have better control of the boat due to its forward motion, instead of being 'played' by the current and winds with a *stopped* boat.

Nutherwords, time your approach and your speed to the bridge so that you dont have to 'stop'.

;-)))
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

In a narrow channel with lots of traffic i would slowly motor in circles (or big ovals really) until the bridge opens. If you know it will be a while, you can make the circles really big as previously suggested.
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Last edited by RainDog; 08-05-2013 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

I hadn't done it very much at all until last year coming down the USA Intra Coastal Waterway.

Every bridge was different, every current, depth, wind, width different and every bridge was the first time I had seen it and every operator does things ONLY in his/her OWN way!

Some bridges take 2 minutes to actually open from when they first start to move, some take up to 5 minutes.
Some operators at, say, 9am, wait for a break in the traffic, drop the gates and start the bridge. Some don't give a stuff about the traffic so its straight up. Some are still having coffee at 9:05.
Some dont open untill you are close enough to satisfy THEM.
Some want you through before he span is fully open, some will scream bloody murder if you are in the fairway 200 meteres before the bridge before their green light comes on.

So how does one "Stand By"? Well, you use every trick in your fast expanding book of tricks, all while you are learning new swear words.

The only really great bridge on the ICW is at Alligator River where its "on demand" when you ring on the VHF the guy just says: "yep I can see you, just come on up" and he opens it perfectly in exactly the right time and drops it right behind you without you ever having to slow down or speed up. He must own a sailing boat!

Some other the others are raving ratbags.

In Florida where the bridges are close together there was a group that theres no way you could do the group unless you could go just a fraction faster than any sailboat and the F'ing glee of the jerk slamming one shut after you have burned smoke to get there....

But now I am in the Caribbean and I am calm again............calm.......... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.



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Last edited by MarkofSeaLife; 08-05-2013 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

get to bridge....reverse....factor prop walk....drift backward....neutral....forward to regain steerage...drift....reverse as we get close to bridge...factor prop walk....drift backwards...repeat repeat repeat

(I have 4 bridges every time I go in and out on the New River in fort lauderdale)

As much as possible try to use current to your advantage. The hard part is when you're carrying current and its ripping. Then you have to use reverse to head to current and balance. Sometimes the wake of passing boats can churn you out of the zone and then the rudder placement with the current will get you sideways. Then the fun begins
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Last edited by night0wl; 08-05-2013 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 08-05-2013
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Re: How do you "stand by" for a bridge opening?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Every bridge was different, every current, depth, wind, width different and every bridge was the first time I had seen it and every operator does things ONLY in his/her OWN way!
...
Some other the others are raving ratbags.
The operators in these parts seem to be of a similar disposition. Grumpy and love to criticize. I even had one guy ignore all my calls on the VHF the first time I went through, then cuss me out the second time for not calling.

The main bridge we have to "stand by" for more than a minute or two is a railroad bridge. If a train is coming any time in the next 15 minutes, they are not opening the bridge for you until the train passes.
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Actual answer to the original question:
Under those circumstances, especially the narrow channel, I would turn around and motor slowly for about 8 to 15 minutes and then turn back, timing arrival for the next bridge opening.
Make sure to re contact the bridge to verify you want an opening.
We keep a cheat sheet in the cockpit that gives various timings for different distances and speeds to better facilitate good arrival timings. Removes my poor math skills from the calculations.
I also keep 2 radios on. One is on 16 and the other is left on the drawbridge channel. Sometimes a third on 13 to monitor commercial traffic.
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