Sailboat tipping was fascinating to see. We left the Port Mayaca lock traveling eastbound. The next “obstacle” was the Mayaca Railroad Bridge which has a 49′ clearance. The Misty Moose, at 19′, didn’t have a problem going right under the bridge with nothing to worry about.
As we traveled just a bit further toward the Indiantown Marina, we came up on this sailboat heading westbound that was too tall to fit under the bridge. I had read about tipping a sailboat to go under a bridge but had never seen it until this day. What happens is that the folks on the sailboat hire a man that helps them to “tip” their boat just enough so that it can go under the bridge without them having to unstep the mast.
The man they hire comes up the river with his motorboat filled with plastic barrels and a water pump. He places the barrels carefully on the rail and then the barrels are filled with water from the river until the sailboat tips over far enough to clear the bridge. The sailboat captain then drives his boat, the barrels, the “barrel man” with his boat under the bridge. When they are on the other side, the barrels are emptied and put back in the motor boat. The sailboat goes on its way and the “barrel man” goes back home until someone else calls him with a need to be tipped. Pretty neat! I have no idea what is charged for this service but it seems to me that it would be an easier way to get under the bridge than to unstep the mast.
We didn’t stay long enough to watch the whole process which left me to wonder if it was scary going under bridge with the boat tipped that way. Hmmmmm…another thing to muse about! 😉