Toms Tips About Bridges and Other Boats

By Tom Neale, 6/5/2012

1. When you’re waiting for a bridge opening NEVER assume that the bridge will open when it’s supposed to.

2. Sometimes vehicular traffic won’t stop (and they’re usually violating the law when they don’t), sometimes an emergency vehicle (fire, ambulance) has to race across, sometimes the bridge breaks and sometimes the bridge operator isn’t doing his job properly.

3. Some bridge tenders want all pleasure boats to group up dangerously close to the bridge before they’ll start the opening. This is probably because some boaters take so long to get through once an opening has occurred and cars and trucks are up there honking. But this also is often dangerous. If it is not prudent to do this, tell the bridge tender your intentions and that you’re operating your boat in the most prudent manner, explaining if necessary and if there’s time and space on the VHF channel.

4. If the bridge tender insists that you do something unsafe, report him, in writing, to the USCG Bridge Officer having jurisdiction.

5. ALWAYS give right of way to encumbered vessels such as tugs. And understand that what works for you as to maneuvering probably won’t work for him. Also understand that often they can’t stop or even slow down without losing control. Stand by on VHF 13 (and the designated bridge tender channel if different than 13) so that you can hear the traffic between the tug, bridge and other boats and communicate as needed.



Go to for other information

Boating and water sports involve risk. Any comments herein should be followed at your own risk. You assume all responsibility for risk or injury to yourself or others. Any person or entity that uses this information in any way, as a condition of that use, agrees to waive and does waive and also hold authors harmless from any and all claims which may arise from or be related to that use.