There are two main types of bridges along the ICW, fixed bridges and opening bridges. The fixed bridges are built 65 feet off the water, but tides, wind, and rainfall affect the actual clearance.
In this case, the water level was up a bit, but we still had 64 feet of clearance - plenty of room for our 62 foot mast. But we discovered an important rule.
As we approached a fixed bridge, we used the binoculars to check the water height boards, which told us how the water variables affected the bridge clearance.
DO NOT LOOK UP. Geoff saw our VHF antenna at the top of the mast bobble as we passed under one of the bridges. I was otherwise occupied. Intentionally.
The other type of bridge on the ICW is the opening bridge. The most common is the bascule bridge, which consists of one or more spans hinged at one end while the other end rises vertically. This was our approach to the single bascule bridge at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
The opening bridges offered a whole new exercise in math and patience. I quite enjoyed playing with the mileages and bridge restrictions to plot our day’s progress. But the restrictions varied from one bridge to the next.
- opens on request
- opens on request, except for am/pm traffic rush hours
- opens every hour on the hour
- opens every half hour, top and bottom
- opens every half hour, quarter to and quarter after
- opens every fifteen minutes
Our favourite restriction was for railroad bridges – “open unless train coming”. How very good to know. Especially for the train.