With the benefits of technology, navigating through narrow channels and maneuvering across a patch of stormy weather isn't nearly as daunting as it once was centuries ago. We also are fortunate to have maps detailing some of the most minute details of the waters we traverse, making for safer and more surefooted journeys. Nevertheless, some man-made challenges, like bridges, remain tricky to pass by at times, sometimes because of a combination of factors like tall waves and inclement weather. Other times, we are caught unaware that a bridge ever existed and have to do the best we can with the sudden obstruction.
Here are two useful tips to remember when it's time to pass under a bridge:
Know the height of the boat: Specifically, it's crucial to know what the height of the boat is with all of the antennas retracted. A good method for estimating how much space your boat needs for bridges in general is using a measuring tape or a marked broom or brush handle while passing under a bridge to measure the amount of space needed to safely clear it. Make sure to leave enough room in case you ever have to make a pass when the water is rough.
Learn the language: Contacting a bridge to confirm the accuracy of clearance boards is a great idea. But the intricacies of bridge slang, such as "low steel," can be simple enough for some to discern intuitively. But for others, the Coast Guard has published a glossary of bridge terms that would be helpful to know if you find yourself trying to make a pass during a stormy or emergency situation.