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the Bridge the increase of vehicle congestion, especially around Seattle, there’s currently a compromise that places times and limits on openings during peak traffic. Size does matter and the big vessels (over 1,000 gross tons) still receive a timely opening upon request. Big or small, each boat captain must possess patience and respect, essential qualities in navigating these urban waterways. Listed below are crucial knowledge and equipment that will also help you get to where you want to go without injury or damage.


How to be patient and respectful Total height of your vessel Clearance height of the bridge Factors of water level such as tides and lake levels 5. How to communicate for opening the bridge

EQUIPMENT TO HAVE ON HAND: 1. Current charts or equivalent such as United States Coastal Pilot 2. Current tide tables if venturing towards or from salt water 3. Working horn or sound device including a spare or backup 4. VHF radio capable of being tuned to channel 13 5. Ample amounts of patience and respect

HYPOTHETICAL BRIDGES TOUR: SOUTH LAKE WASHINGTON TO SHILSHOLE BAY MARINA Let’s first plan our move for a hypothetical Super-Guppy (Guppy), a vessel equipped with a mast that lowers. The height with mast in the up-position is known to be 41’ 6” and


when lowered, the height is 28’ 2”. Leaving from South Lake Washington, we wish to arrive in her new slip at Shilshole Bay Marina. The timing needs to happen October 1, per moorage agreements. Studying the charts, there appear to be many choices: Choice #1 is what side of Mercer Island shall we travel – the shorter distance requires lowering the mast, the longer distance has plenty of clearance. Where would you find that information? Charts have vast amounts of information; essentially novels displayed graphically. You know the I-90 Bridge has boat traffic traveling under the west and east ends, but you don’t know if Guppy slips under. Reviewing the chart, at each end area you’ll find East Fixed Span… VERT CL (Vertical Clearance) 29’ and West Fixed Span… VERT CL 29’. OK, with mast down you’re good to go that direction. Choice #2 is to travel the longer, counterclockwise distance past Newport Shores and not have to lower mast by going under the I-90 East Channel Bridge with VERT CL 72’. Before finalizing to keep that mast up, further study the other bridges along the route. Continuing your planning northwards, the SR 520 bridge looms and again, you can find multiple ends to pass under; the East Fixed Span… VERT CL 57’ and the West Fixed Span… 44’. This shows you pass under at either place, mast up or down. After the 520 bridge, the course turns to the west and the next bridge along the path is the Montlake Bridge with a VERT CL 32’ (48’ at center). Noting these heights, either you’re near the center or the mast must be tilted down. Since your crew today is limited and the lowering of mast process is new to them, the Guppy is leaning towards leaving the mast up and transiting towards the middle

Railroad Bridge #4, as seen from the Ballard Locks.

intact. My mast survived; my pride had more damage. Other boaters have had different outcomes. There are many bridges in Washington, with more than a dozen moveable bridges in the Puget Sound area. Our federal laws state that marine traffic has right of way over vehicular traffic. With


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