Captain Jones Advises on the AICW/Alligator River Swing Bridge Approach and Passage (Statute Mile 84)
Posted by Larry Dorminy | Posted on 11-03-2010
Before the removal of most swing, bascule and lift bridges, any voyage on the ICW was an adventure in bridge passages. The many types of bridges and conversations with the tenders were often memorable events. The Alligator River Bridge, at the northern entrance to the Alligator River, is particularly memorable because of its great length, making it very formidable on first approach. Captain Jones shares his thoughts on the process.
AICW Passage South Across Albemarle Sound into Alligator River:
It was a beautiful day and we made good progress across the Albemarle which was uncharacteristically docile. Coming into the Alligator River, we almost made a mistake by missing the approach mark. However, we caught ourselves in time and corrected our course. The Alligator River Bridge opened for us promptly. I never remember which way a swing bridge swings and am reluctant to approach too closely should it swing toward me. I like to clear a bridge even before it is fully open to facilitate its prompt closing and thereby minimize the inconvenience to motorists, who vastly outnumber us and don’t like to be inconvenienced by pesky sailboats who take forever to get through the bridge while drivers tap their foot in impatience, late for an appointment. I’ve found, too, that when mine is the only boat passing through, the bridge tender knows how long he (or she) can wait before starting the opening sequence. I confess to getting nervous as I approach the bridge, wondering if I have to slow down, but almost invariably, the second I chicken out and hit the throttle, the bridge will start to open, and I quickly throttle up again and sail through without delay. I find it helps to watch when the gates go down to stop traffic, then I know the opening sequence has begun and I can safely maintain my 5 or 6 knots. The bridge will be open by the time I get there.
Captain Ted Jones