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post #1 of 7 Old 03-02-2002 Thread Starter
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Marine VHF

I''m new to sailing. Planning to sail our Spindrift-19 (Precision-18) in the NC and SC intercoastal waterway on summer vacation, Holden Beach, NC to Little River, SC to be exact. One area we need to travel (Sunset Beach, NC) has a small drawbridge. I hear about people saying to hail the bridge operator to open up. Is there a standard VHF channel for this purpose and a ''correct'' way to make this request? Do they charge you? Also, if we plan to moor or dock somewhere, who with, and how do we make those arrangements? What should I expect to pay?
Regards, Phil
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-04-2002
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Marine VHF

Yes, Drawbridges charge you, the good news is that it''s done through a painless payroll deduction plan call "income tax" and the rest of the country (even land lubbers) pitches in.

Most bridges near me monitor channel 9 and 16, when in sight of the bridge just say something like "Drawbridge SR3 (in this case, state road 3) this is the eastbound sailing vessel ''Anonymous'' requesting an opening" and most of the time they''ll radio back something like "Captain, I have you in sight, once the traffic clears I''ll give you an opening, SR3 standing by"

Things to remember, if you know there''s a bridge just ahead, but you don''t see it yet and you hear someone else request an opening, radio them and let them know your position, or you may be stuck waiting for the next open. As you approach an area with a bridge, begin to try to group up (slow down or speed up) so that more boats can get through on a single open.

Most bridges have signs marked what channel they listen to, if you''re not sure, pull out your binocs and take a look. It does vary from region to region.

On docking. There are marinas all over the place happy to take your money. Find a guide to the ICW (some are online) that lists marinas. You''ll pay anywhere from $1 a foot to $1.50 a foot per night (in that area). Some have minimums, such as 30 feet, that you''ll have to pay even if you only need 18 feet. Some places take reservations ahead of time, some are first-come first-serve.

Here''s one URL that will give you a feel:
http://www.sailmiami.com/Marinas/south_carolina.htm

Good luck
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-04-2002
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Marine VHF

All the opening bridges I have come across monitor channel 13. That being said, they will often open in response to 3 air horn blasts. Also, many bridges open on a schedule with no radio call or air horn necessary. You might want to check a crusing guide for your area or consult someone with local knowledge.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-05-2002
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Marine VHF

Be sure to take a photo of the bridge at Sunset beach, I don''t think they have replaced it; it is a very rare floating bridge. i''m guessing they have restricted openings, especially during the summer. check your chart. I would agree with montoring Ch 13 on VHF.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-06-2002
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Marine VHF

Someone feel free to correct me if I''m wrong...but Florida and South Carolina bridges monitor channel 9. The rest of the U.S. monitors 13. I''m sure about Florida, as that is where my boat is at the moment, and I''m pretty sure S.C. switched over a few years ago to channel 9. So you should be OK in N.C. with channel 13, and if you need to hail in S.C. you might need to go to 9.
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-10-2002
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Marine VHF

My daughter is a bridge tender. They monitor 13.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-17-2002
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Marine VHF


Dear Phil,

Things are different all over.

Some bridge tenders monitor 13, some 9, some 16. Been up and down the ICW many times at that point and always got an answer on 16. Some rude people blast their horns after the initial hail. (Used to live in Little River, SC, and delivered new Beneteaus out of there.) Up north 13 gets, sometimes, a quicker answer, but still they could be slow. Only used the horn twice - in Buffalo when I was freezing to death and had waited for a response in the snow and freezing rain for almost an hour. The bridge tender actually came in to the Buffalo yacht club later and bought us a beer cause he had been slow. Then again, in Florida, had to wait almost 2 hours with no explanation, no response, no answer on any channel and the tide seriously going out on me with a 6 foot draft. For that, no resolve. For Sunset at this time of year, they will be watching the traffic, believe me. You should have no problem at all.

Most of the time there is a sign beforehand with the hailing channel and/or the schedule of the bridge.

But if not, remember this, please - if no sign, hail on any of the three channels, monitor them all and, above all, always be nice. And never, ever, ever forget, no matter how much trouble you have had and how much frustration you feel, do not forget to thank the bridge tender for opening. Believe me, they will remember you on the way back. I was once stuck at a certain bridge on the way north behind a yankee (dare I say) powerboat pacing back and forth across the channel, that had totally ticked off the bridgetender on the way down. Switched to another channel and she apologized for us waiting as long as we had (about 15 minutes at the most) because she was not going to open it for an hour or so more for these people until we happened to come along.

Pays to be nice.

Be nice. Or, if scheduled, get there on time. (Of course, if coming up just behind time, beg and beg, and sometimes you will get the best of the bridgetender.)

Best wishes for a wonderful trip,
Mary
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