First Bridge Up the Delta



This is the one of the first bridges you go under as you head up the delta beyond Benicia. This is a triple  bridge, two are for vehicle traffic and the other for rail. The vehicle bridges have a clearance of 141’, the rail bridge you need to call about to ensure that you plan your passage at low tide to get as much clearance as possible …. if you are a sailboat of our size and height. When you approach a bridge it is very difficult to put the over-height distance into perspective. Here is what it is like as you approach a bridge




Passport 47

Getting Close

S: I don’t know …. do you think we’ll actually make it under that?”

T: Supposedly…

S: What’s our overall height, from waterline to the top of the mast?

T: I think we’re 63”

S: … and the train bridge clearance at low tide is …..70’ ? That’s a small margin for error….



Passport 47

Are we going to make it?

Getting closer, holding breath. Decreasing the RPM’s to make a passage under the bridge.









Passport 47


Staring up, hearts thudding, breath held….

Getting closer, closer….

Really? We are going to clear that?

Here we go….








Mast still standing and just clearing bridge …. by about 1 foot we think.

Great sighs of relief!






On the way back to San Francisco Bay we felt more confident about our return under this bridge, but shouldn’t have….You are at the mercy of the accurate tide predictions and the hydraulic bridge operators. We did our due diligence checking tide and timing our return. Our previous experience told us that even though it didn’t look like we would make it under the bridge, we did. So as we approached this bridge on our return to the bay, even though it looked like we would not make, we doubted what we were seeing. Josh and I stood on the bow anyways, necks craned back watching intently. Ted slowed the boat right down, but when we were within 5 meters, Josh and I started yelling “OMG Back up, back up!!!!! Back the @#**!@ UUUUPPPP!!!!” Ted responded quicky, but backing up a 38 000 lb  boat that already has forward momentum with current behind it…is no easy task. Ted slammed the engine into reverse and amped up the RPM’s making the difference between a trip continuing or a disasterous end. The bridge operators must have heard my yelling and hung over from their perch and yelled down “Okay honey we are going to lift the bridge for you!”  We took Adesso in a slow circle as they raised the train bridge, our heart rates we just about back to normal as we went safely under the bridge.

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