East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

New Jersey Bridges
The Route 13/Lovelandtown Bridge across Point Pleasant Canal at ICW mile 3.9, in Point Pleasant Canal, NJ, will be maintained in the closed-to-navigation position beginning 8 a.m. on January 3, 2005, through 5 p.m. on March 31, 2005. The bridge is undergoing extensive mechanical rehabilitation. Openings of the bridge will be provided between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday with at least 24 hours advance notice. Call 215-899-9341, 215-416-1235 or 215-239-7659.

Beginning December 13, 2004 until February 18, 2005, the south channel of the Shark River in the vicinity new Route 35 (mile 0.9) bridge in Belmar will be closed to all marine traffic, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Presidential Inauguration Security Zone
It’s probably not a good idea to plan to go boating around D.C. during the Presidential Inauguration activities.

The Coast Guard will be establishing a temporary security zone on the Potomac River from January 14 through January 25, 2005. It includes all waters of the Potomac River, surface to bottom, from the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge to the Francis Scott Key Bridge (including the Georgetown Channel Tidal Basin), and the Anacostia River downstream from the Highway 50 Bridge to the confluence with the Potomac River.

If you want to transit the security zone in your boat, you must first obtain authorization from the Captain of the Port of Baltimore (or his designated representative) at 410-576-2693. If you receive permission, you must comply with the instructions provided and proceed at the minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course. Coast Guard vessels enforcing this security zone can be contacted on VHF Channel 16.

Jensen Beach Bridge, Mile 981.4
A few days ago we passed again under the new high–rise Jensen Beach Bridge. Last fall, 2003, Chez Nous had been the first sailboat to pass under this brand new bridge after the final setting of the center span.

The old bascule bridge is permanently open and is in the process of being demolished. It will be completely gone by April of 2005. Another friendly bridge tender’s voice is missing from the VHF; another obstacle across the ICW is removed; there is one less time restriction. Progress on the waterways!

Indian River Bridge at Sewalls Point, Mile 984.9
In the past, just after making the half hour timed opening at the Jensen Beach Bridge, all tall boats raced the 3.5 miles to try to get to the Indian River Bridge for the next timed half hour opening.

This bridge was at Ground Zero for the fall 2004 hurricanes, Frances and Jeanne, and has since experienced a variety of problems resulting in interruptions to its schedule. We knew this, and were not surprised to hear the pleasant familiar voice saying that she could not open as we approached. We and three other sailboats would have to wait till the electrician could get there from West Palm (on a Sunday). No problem. We put the hook down and planned to stay for the night since we could not make our planned anchorage in the daylight if we had a long wait. It was not a long wait, and the anchor was up 15 minutes later when the bridge opened and we were on our way.
The Indian River Bridge is scheduled to be replaced by a new high-rise bridge soon. We noticed the beginning of construction on the west side at the low level causeway.

Hobe Sound Bridge, Mile 996
Just last spring, the Coast Guard announced that this bridge would open on a schedule of hour, 20 minutes after and 40 minutes after, from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m. daily. We are unaware of any announcement to the contrary. It opened “on request” for us. We keep one VHF radio tuned to the bridge channel (09 in FL) when we are on the ICW and heard this bridge opening on request for many other vessels all during the day.

Northern Right Whale Migration – Encounter Regulations and Requirements
From USCG Local Notice to Mariners, District 5, Number 0501: During this time of year the severely endangered Northern Right Whale may be encountered within 20-30 nm of shore as they migrate between the Gulf of Maine and the Florida Straits. Right whales are slow moving animals that are prone to collisions with vessels. Vessel operators are reminded to use caution around Right Whales. Intentional close approach to Right Whales is prohibited and is in violation of federal law. A minimum distance of 500 yards must be maintained from a sighting. Assume that a whale sighted within 30 nm of the coast is a Right Whale. For latest advisories and sightings, monitor USCG Broadcast Notice to Mariners and NOAA weather radio. Commercial vessels over 300 gross tons are reminded to comply with the requirements of the mandatory ship reporting system

I think I saw one off the coast of southern Georgia in November. It seemed almost as big as my boat. We spent some time in St Augustine between Thanksgiving and Christmas and heard several reports of sightings off the North Florida coast. These came from all manner of mariners, from pleasure boaters, sportfishermen and the commercial fleet. One young Right Whale became entangled in fishing line and made the national news. Fortunately the line was removed through huge effort and the whale went about its merry way to the Florida Straits. It is estimated that there are only 300 Northern Right Whales left in the world. We are encouraged to find that so many people are interested and helping to save these magnificent creatures from extinction.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale