Ya See Folks… There’s This Bridge…

It is a simple construct. Anchored at both ends, two pylons providing support, relatively short span, and at high water… the gap between the water and the bridge deck is stated to be 58 feet. Now folks… that’s plenty of air for most powerboats, tugs and the like. And really, for the most part, cruising sailboats have no problem clearing the space under the bridge deck… most cruising sailboats…

We’ve been under the bridge now about three times. It spans a narrow waterway called the Port Townsend Ship Canal which separates the mainland at Port Hadlock from Indian Island, home of the Indian Island Naval Reserve, which is a major US Navy munitions handling facility. But this story is not about Indian Island. It is about the Canal, a fifty foot catamaran, an old wooden boat named of all things, Joker, and a Bridge with a height of 58 feet above high water. I think you can just sense where this little tale is going…

Where the Canal is now, once was a broad sand flat and a backshore marsh. Imagine that. Probably was full of the usual flora and fauna that have a tendency to fill up backshore marshes. It was dredged to accommodate commercial marine traffic and the delivery of goods thither and yon without having to go around Indian Island / Marrowstone Island, that are hooked together by an isthmus at the southern end. A bridge (of all things) was built to accommodate what needed to be accommodated at the Naval Reserve. At mean low tide there is a controlled depth of 15 feet or so with a few spots a bit shallower where some sediment has had the temerity to land and stay.

The bodies of water on each side of the canal are fairly large and now that the canal is where once was sand and bog… every time the tide changes a current of up to 4 knots charges through the canal. The last time I went through the canal it was going in my direction. I was cruising through the water at six knots, but my speed over the ground was 10 knots. It does pay to look at tide charts when passing through the canal to pick a reasonable time to do it.

Get on with it!

So there we were… minding our own business, doing boatish things, and this older wooden boat comes chugging around the bend towing a large catamaran behind, with a 1/2 inch floating tow line. Interesting… 1/2 inch being the size usually relegated to towing dinghies…

So you can see… that where the forestay used to be attached to the broken crossbar that used to adjoin the hulls together… Well, it has been ripped away from the crossbar, and while doing so, broke the poor little bit of aluminum extrusion in half. The effort decimated the attachments to the hull. Sorely busticated sez I. The ragged mast part pointing skyward in silent and devastating repose… used to be attached to a tabernacle that you can see between the forward windows. The little roof structure that the mast barely missed… There was a guy sitting in there minding his business, steering the boat. He is so fortunate that the mast landed to the side of where he was sitting…
And… crashed backwards and landed right next to him while he was sitting there steering the boat. As the mast crashed backwards, ending up dragging in the water, it must have been very exciting and very loud. Shockingly loud. Not to mention that with the mast dragging off center… the boat would have instantly become a very interesting beast to steer in the narrow canal.
The mast is most likely in the 65 to 68 foot range… just a bit too tall to fit under the 58 foot gap between the water and the bridge. Quite a bit of damage during a 12.4 mile tow. It might have been better to go around Marrowstone Island. That would have made the trip a whopping 14.4 miles… a mere two miles further than going through the canal… and it would have saved the mast, radar, bow crosspiece, tabernacle that the mast sat on, the piloting station house and various other cracked, bent, dented gear. It would have been so much better to have been able to tell a story of ferocious winds… steep breaking seas, skittering down the face of a huge rogue wave, pitch polling end for end, and just barely surviving… instead of a bonehead tow job gone awry.

Such things one can witness when just sittin on a dock on the bay…

One thought on “Ya See Folks… There’s This Bridge…

  1. That beautiful catamaran, I weep. Kai poses in handsome glory, gaining dignity and gravitas with more white amid the black. My Diego stinks less. Jo Ann


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