During our 9 years of cruising, we have seen dozens of opening bridges replaced with 65′ high bridges – nice for all of us & especially sailboats. Particularly in the south, it is remarkable how fast they build replacement bridges. In as little as 2 years, they’ll build a new high-rise bridge complete with approaches as well as removing the old bridge (unless they keep part of it as a fishing pier).
While dredging is great, there are times it is a challenge to get past the dredges … or in this case … their goods. This is a tug, a barge with pipeline AND hundreds of feet of trailing pipeline moving to their next job. This photo shows only 1/2 of the pipe – it was TWICE this long including 2 small work boats attempting to “steer” it around the bends of the river. Right after we stopped to let them go by, we heard on the VHF radio a police boat responding to “pull over” the tug as they were accused of hitting a boat docked at a marina a mile before … oops.
Almost more important than regular dredging is keeping channel markers & charts accurate & up-to-date. While all of the agencies involved usually do a good job, there are a few spots which are so frustrating. One particular half-mile stretch of the ICW in SC was just dredged at a huge cost. Not only has it already partially filled-in making passage at low tide difficult, there is an adjacent, parallel naturally-deep path with plenty of water – why not just move the channel markers to where there is naturally-deep water?
This is an another example of the need for proper placement of channel markers. This shoal on a curve has been growing for years, but if you simply follow the red channel markers (leave them on your starboard/right – circled in yellow) you can go aground as this boat did (he’s high & dry). On the other hand, this is a curve in the channel – you must follow the curve & take it wide. Still, this shoal protrudes much too far & needs to be dredged back and/or marked better.
Speaking of expensive miscalculations, we cruised by the Golden Ray cargo ship which also grounded on the inside turn of a channel & capsized last September in St. Simons Sound, Brunswick, Georgia. They are still formulating plans to cut it apart, remove it along with the 4,000 automobiles contained within & all of the pollution – it may take up to 2 years & the blame-game, environmental damage & legal battles will likely go on for decades. Ironically, Georgia is in the midst of being the first state in the nation to pass strict anchoring regulations & nightly fees for cruisers because some politicians think we’re polluting their waters!