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jimmalkin 05-18-2008 09:27 PM

C&D Canal RR Bridge -Be Aware
All - Last Friday night, we entered the E end of the Canal at 1915 and called the Canal Controller on 13 and announced that the sailing vessel Taronga had entered the E end and was transiting Westbound. We received no reply although did hear the Controller speaking to commercial traffic. At 1950 the C&D Railroad Bridge issued a call on 13 that the bridge would be coming down in 30 minutes. I called the Bridge and notified him that we were 1.5 miles from the bridge and would pass under in 16 minutes. I received no reply. I have 2 VHF's and used them both.

As we approached the bridge it looked slightly down in the dusk, but there had been no siren or horn and no flashing lights to indicate a lowering bridge. We passed under the bridge and simultaneously got an unidentified transmission on 13 - "that's a good way to loose your mast." At that point a siren went off - AFTER we had passed under AND after the gentleman, whom I assume to be the bridge operator, offered his comment.

1 - we were at the bridge 16 minutes following the announcement of closing in 30 minutes.
2 - apparently the bridge was in the process of coming down 16 minutes after the announcement.
3 - there had been no siren or indication of lowering (via light or sound) until we had passed under.

The pilot books say that yachts are not required to check in. I don't know if this was an operator issue or simply a lack of concern about non-commercial traffic, but it was potentially a very dangerous situation that may happen again.

I pulled into Summit North Marina, just after the bridge, and asked the security guard if there is usually a siren or horn on bridge lowering. I also asked him to confirm reception from my radios. He confirmed that there is a siren prior to the bridge coming down and that both of my radios were transmitting.

I will be sending a note to the C&D Authority. Just the kind of thing you need after 24 hours of dodging the tugs and large vessels plying the waters of the NJ Coast and the Delaware Bay.

teshannon 05-19-2008 05:13 AM

That's a scary story about the bridge. I would be interested in knowing what if any response you get. As to the Canal Controller, my guide asks that you not contact them so I'm not surprised you did not get a response. It would be nice however to know what's coming your way, particularly at night. Good luck with the return trip.

sailingdog 05-19-2008 09:40 AM

Sounds like a good place to setup a video camera... these guys sound like a hazard to all sailboats.

jimmalkin 05-19-2008 10:14 AM

Just spoke to C&D Authority who is going to gather information and call me back; "the RR bridge is the RR's responsibility..." I was told that there are two video cameras aimed E and W 100 feet from the bridge that have monitors in the RR Bridge controller's office. Also was told that the Authority and the RR bridge should have responded to my transmission. The gentleman was very accommodating, especially after learning that the VHF's were transmitting but there was a definite current of NMP "not my problem." I'll advise how this turns out as a mast/bridge collision could kill someone with the falling spar.

sailingdog 05-19-2008 10:18 AM

keep us posted Jim. :)

teshannon 05-19-2008 10:32 AM

Thanks. Was he saying the Canal Controller should have responded also?

Sapperwhite 05-19-2008 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by teshannon (Post 316495)
Thanks. Was he saying the Canal Controller should have responded also?

Like you said earlier, I think the Canal Control only responds to commercial or military traffic.

I for one am not a big fan of the C&D. I had a close call with a tug and barge at night. Those damn street lights along the edge of the canal sure are good at masking and confusing nav lights.

jimmalkin 05-19-2008 11:15 AM

Tom - I contacted the Phila office of the Army Corps of Engineers and was directed to Jim Tomlin of their group who works at the C&D Canal. He stated that yachts are not required to contact the Authority when transiting the Canal but that they should have responded to my initial hail on 13.

labatt 05-19-2008 12:17 PM

I think it's about par for the course for railroad bridges. We've had the same issue with numerous railroad bridges, including the one in Manasquan - hail a million times and get no response. I'll be very interested to find out how this whole thing works out.

brak 05-19-2008 12:20 PM

Many railroad bridges are unmanned - the operator is located in remote center, and has a couple of video cameras and a radio feed.

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