Bridges: Operating Near a Bridge and What Sailboats Should Know
- Most states have laws requiring that you pass under bridges at a slow speed. You should always reduce your speed and proceed with caution near any bridge or man-made structure that decreases visibility and passage.
- Many bridges are high enough to allow normal boat passage. However, some bridges provide only low clearance during normal conditions or periods of high water.
- Many drawbridges open and close when a boat arrives. To request passage, contact the bridge operator using sound signals or a VHF marine radio.
- Be aware that debris can collect around pilings of bridges and create dangerous obstructions.
Sailboats and Bridges
Sailboat operators should always check clearance of the boat's mast before passing under bridges. This can be very difficult to determine from the operator's position on the boat. On charted waters, the chart will indicate bridge clearance at a particular water level. Current water level and tide must be factored in to determine present clearance.