A relatively hard day. A definitely tiring day. Have I said before that boating is hard tiring work? Today was only 42 nm but it took nearly 7 hours. Didn’t do an actual count but had to pass under at least 20-25 bridges today and 1/2- 2/3 had less clearance than the 21.5’ I need. That means they need to lift for me. They are for the most part “timed” for a specific non specified speed. Some bridges open on the half hour and on the hour while others open on the 1/4 and 3/4 hours and there was one that open every twenty minutes and the lowest one, a 10’ clearance if I remember, opened on demand. But you have to call the bridge operator and request an opening or it may not happen. So the exercise is to check the charts for the next bridge for which you will need an opening, then calculate how far away it is from your current position, check the charts to see it’s opening schedule and then you can calculate what your average speed needs to be in order to arrive at bridge opening time.
Problem is you can’t count on boat traffic that might slow you down. The ICW is quite narrow and the channel can be even more narrow. A boat in fron of you out ‘for a Sunday drive’ with oncoming traffic may mean you can’t pass. You are stuck. Then there are the slow No Wake zones past marinas, slow manatee zones, bridges you can clear but the zone before and after is “idle speed”. For probably a half dozen openings I had a ‘pack’ of sailboats about mile behind and strung out another half mile. So I’d arrive ‘on time’ for an opening but the sailboats would be late and the bridge operator seeing 4 boats coming a mile away would decide to wait on opening till the first arrived. So now if the next bridge is 1/2 hour away, you’ve only got 25 minutes to get there. That would be fine if the next bridge operator was also a soft touch but odds are it is a bridge operator Mussolini trained. It is a real PITA to miss an opening and have to hold position in front of a bridge for a half hour. Likewise it’s a pain to hurry and arrive 10 minutes early and have to hold in place for 10 minutes. Best to have your between bridge plan calculated accurately and executed well. When trying to make time, it’s a little stressful as is holding your position in the wind and current. It nice now that the worst is behind as there are fewer bridge crossings from the mainland to the barrier islands as populations diminish.