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Hint: you need big balls
April 16, 2012 5:40 PM   Subscribe

How do you get 80 ft of mast under a 65 ft bridge?
posted by unSane (48 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This should be the proper link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CInYj5P4evA
posted by dunkadunc at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


"And a big set of balls."
posted by bicyclefish at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would have gone less successfully for engineers I've known, as they would have inadvertently left their calculators in radians and thus fucked up the angle of tilt needed.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


What'd he use to deploy the ballast?
posted by notyou at 5:47 PM on April 16, 2012


But an absolutely fabulous video! Is this standard operating procedure for... anything??
posted by grog at 5:47 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hereby wish to apologize to Mr. Alderson for opining in tenth grade math that I thought geometry lacked practical applications.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:50 PM on April 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just switch to metric, and it wouldn't be a problem.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:50 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want to see how he tilted that boat initially.
posted by francesca too at 5:51 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really, people should check the original youtube post of the video if just for the explanation:

How to get an 80' rig through the 65' bridges of the Intracoastal Waterway using two tons of water. The balls get swung out with an initial turn to port or stbd. The tendency then is for the roll to continue by itself, but is controlled by letting the bags out slowly with a line made off to each bag and running through necessary tackle to a cockpit winch.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:56 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would have been better if the soundtrack was something by Liszt.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:56 PM on April 16, 2012 [69 favorites]


First thought: tip the boat!
On watching video: man what!
posted by curious nu at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2012


Wait, I know the answer: You say "Get that mast under that bridge, soldier!"
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:00 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was nicely handled. Hopefully calculations of shroud loads and mast compression were in hand! Though the rig is no doubt designed to handle the force that would result in a full knock-down.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2012


Did anybody else watch the video and expect to see MIA filing her nails on the upended half of the boat while the boat's captain drags a knife through the wake?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:03 PM on April 16, 2012 [27 favorites]


80 pounds of awesome in a 65-pound sack.
posted by bpm140 at 6:04 PM on April 16, 2012


Obviously a stiff mast like that needs a sturdy set of balls to match.
posted by roboton666 at 6:06 PM on April 16, 2012


if the soundtrack was something by Liszt.

You, sir, are a genius.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:07 PM on April 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, except for forgetting the t in It.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:07 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it a little more, I'd be most concerned about the engine- that it was designed to run continuously at that angle of heel. You'd also want to be sure you knew which side the cooling water intake was on to avoid pulling it out of the water.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 6:12 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, except for forgetting the t in It.

You are partially correct. I would also be better if I had a soundtrack by Liszt, at least some of the time.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pythagoreaus strikes again.
posted by 4ster at 6:19 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apologies: Pythagoras
posted by 4ster at 6:20 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Archimedes would be proud.
posted by gingerest at 6:21 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd have been more impressed if it was done under full sail.
posted by unliteral at 6:27 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


What is the soundtrack, by the bye? I might need it to orchestrate myself when performing seemingly absurd feats of awesome.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:30 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


All you lubbers have no idea, going under a bridge where you *know* you have 20 ft clearance, there's a point where you look up, ah, check that chart just once more matey. Amazing video, gave me chills.
posted by sammyo at 6:42 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The side winch was the best part.

Also: Wait for the tide to go out/late summer drought.
posted by DU at 6:44 PM on April 16, 2012


Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin Opera - Waltz
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:44 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Done routinely to get under some of the smaller bridges on the creeks that feed the Severn River in Annapolis, albeit in 8-foot Lasers. The order goes like this: "All y'all grab the boom and sit on that rail until the boat tips over. Okay, swim under the King George Street Bridge. Ok, y'all can get back in now."
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:46 PM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh my god. Yeah, going under a bridge when there's like 20 feet of clearance terrifies me sometimes. That video ... I was expecting to see sparks from something scraping against the underside of the bridge. That's brilliant and awesome and holy fuck insane.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:07 PM on April 16, 2012


Video was tortuously long. I watched 15 seconds of approach and had to cut to the part where it actually goes under the bridge. The part where the weights are pulled up is more interesting than the approach.
posted by hrstruggle at 7:11 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The balls get swung out with an initial turn to port or stud.

So, dress left or dress right?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


love this; thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:16 PM on April 16, 2012


Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin Opera - Waltz.

Great. Now I'm off to cantilever half a building off another building.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:37 PM on April 16, 2012


Oh, I know this one! All you have to do is let some air out of the tires.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:56 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nah, there's an easier way - you just dredge the bottom of the river under the bridge.
posted by dg at 8:18 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So is it only small boats that have collapsible masts?
posted by maryr at 8:54 PM on April 16, 2012


I once knew a man who did something crazier than this with a boat under a bridge. I was at sailing camp on the West River of the Chesapeake Bay almost a decade ago and he was the more experienced of the instructors. He was a short but large man with thick leathery skin and hard blue eyes with a way of asking for things in such a way as they'd get done and teaching skills in such a way as they were learned. The moment he walked onto a boat no one called him Jack any more, he was Skipper, and it was just so natural to call him that. So, one day towards the end of our trip around the bay at a campfire, he tells us this story of how he learned not to sail.

His plan was to sail across the Delaware Bay to Ocean City where he would meet his wife who would drive the more circuitous route. The story begins with him getting a late start because of something foolish I don't remember, but he figured that the wind was good enough that if he hurried he would still be able to make good time. So he drove his 20 foot sailboat to the ramp closest to his house and, after quickly checking everything, backed it down the ramp. However, he overlooked his brand new rudder, which was down, and it abruptly shattered as he lowered his boat into the water. I can't imagine how that sound must have felt, but when he reconnoitered he figured he could still get a nice cruise out of the day and attach his outboard motor where the rudder used to be.

It took a while to collect the remains of his rudder and to run to get the motor, so he was a bit hurried as he attached the thing to his boat, but he got everything together and headed out. Just after he was underway, he realized that, while still mourning his rudder, he had not properly screwed in the outboard motor and that it was shaking itself loose. He had also left the tools necessary to properly attach it in his truck and so he figured that the best he could do was get a good strong grip on it and manhandle the boat across the bay. This worked pretty well and he got just a bit more than halfway to the other side in this fashion. However, just as he was figuring he had gotten the hang of how to keep the motor on the boat and was beginning to enjoy his cruise, a wave caught him unawares causing him to overcompensate with the motor, leaving it to fall right overboard. He still had his handle on it and so reflexively he manhandled it right back onto the boat. Still running. Across his lap. At which point he dropped it and it went right back into the bay.

Now he was in trouble. Thankfully the propeller didn't hit his femoral artery, but it cut deep and he was losing a lot of blood. He was also right in the middle of the bay, with no rudder, no motor, and no way to call for help. This was bad. The only thing that was really left for him to do was to propel himself with his mainsail without the rudder, which is doable but very non-trivial. He managed to get to the other shore this way and it was getting into the late afternoon, well after his wife knew to expect him, but he figured that he was on a roll, that abandoning the boat on the Delaware shore could be risky to it especially as he would need emergency medical attention, and that he was indeed almost there. So he soldiered on down the coast to Ocean City.

Somehow he made it, and it was just starting to get dark. Now the way into Ocean City by sea is under the same bridge that most people take to get into Ocean City by land, and a portion of it is a drawbridge for exactly this reason. Now our hapless Skipper had to wait in line with everyone else as he struggled to keep the boat under control without moving forward and without a rudder while missing a sizable amount of his legs. Once it was finally his turn to go under the bridge, he miscalculated the approach, which didn't necessarily have a solution, and ended up drifting into the gears of the drawbridge apparatus. The moment his mast hit the gears, it lodged itself in there and immediately guided gallons of thick green black motor oil right down the sail to coat it, and much of the boat, in the slick slippery stuff. Now he was in trouble and there really wasn't much he could do other then yell back at the angry bridge operator in the booth, who was also largely impotent to help, until he pulled out the most important piece of safety equipment one can have on a boat.

He went to his small cabin and grabbed a case of beer and a line, and he held them up to the growing pile of boats behind him waiting to get home for the night. Pretty soon a dinghy with a couple of thirsty guys wordlessly came forward, took both one end of the line and the beer, and dragged the poor boat out the other side of the drawbridge before dropping it just as quickly. Poor Jack then still managed to get his boat through the bay, oil on the sails and all, to the marina where he had reserved a slip and marched up to the booth to figure out which one was his. Apparently, when he walked up to the desk, the tall scrawny kid who was left there for the evening had the gall to tell him that they had given away his slip for the evening, as he was hours late, and that they had no more left of the right size. However Jack, now exhausted, covered in blood and oil, and in serious need of medical attention wasn't taking no for an answer. So he grabbed the poor kid by collar, pulled him down to eye level and made sure he understood that a slip would be found. It turns out there was still a slip available, of the largest size, the kind meant for big luxury yachts. So Jack then piloted his boat over to the slip drawing awed silence from the black tie cocktail party going on in the slip next door. You can imagine the sight, a big burly bearded man black and red with blood and oil guiding his vessel into the slip with a mainsail dripping black with the same oil past tuxedos and gowns, then wordlessly tying up his boat and going about his business. With his boat safe, Jack then found a payphone to call his wife and the EMS.

Apparently his scars were placed just unfortunately enough that he couldn't show them to this group of minors in his care, but his wife happily vouched for their existence and severity. She also clearly had not forgotten the worry of him not arriving and then that call and then the surgery, or the expensiveness of the rudder and outboard motor. However Jack told us that he learned a lot that day, about the foolishness of half measures, the value of persistence, and the importance of paying attention to whatever it is that you are doing.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:42 PM on April 16, 2012 [146 favorites]


unliteral: "I'd have been more impressed if it was done under full sail."

Sailboats arn't designed for bridges, even when there is plenty of clearance. If you know what you're doing you can sail under a bridge anyway, but it is a fundamentally unnatural thing for a sail powered vessel to do, and very easy to catastrophically fuck up. Wind is heavily dependent on nearby structures, and bridges fuck up the wind in strong and unpredictable ways while you are also right in the middle of disrupted currents near pylons your ship will wrap around and often in a shipping channel with boats that couldn't stop if they wanted to. Even the most diehard purest sailors use their engines around bridges if they have them, and not having an engine on a vessel you intend to do things like cross bridges with is kind of like a not having brakes on a fixie.

Also, wow those balls out to starboard weren't the biggest ones swinging on that vessel. That ship was pointed exactly where it needed to be with just the right amount of list, using just the right tools and it was done with no hesitation, exactly how it would need to be done to be pulled off right.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:43 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sailboats arn't designed for bridges, even when there is plenty of clearance.
Yeah, I wasn't being serious. My bother-in-law has a sailing boat that has about a metre clearance at the centre of the bridge at Hindmarsh Island (depending on the tide). I know to stop talking when we approach the bridge because he really needs to concentrate. I've passed this clip on to him because I know he'll fully appreciate how well this was done.
posted by unliteral at 10:36 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The question reminded me of the boat rolling under a bridge.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 2:31 AM on April 17, 2012


It's worth noting that a sailboat of this size has several thousand pounds of ballast in the keel, which extends significantly below the water line, providing enough of a counter-weight to maintain stability and keep the sailboat from flipping over and capsizing.

...or at least that's what I keep telling myself as I'm hugging the deck on a boat that's heeled over by a mere ten degrees in a stiff breeze.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:45 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Very creative; I love it.
posted by caddis at 6:37 AM on April 17, 2012


Nah, there's an easier way - you just dredge the bottom of the river under the bridge.

Isn't water level the same regardless of the depth of water?
posted by ichomp at 10:47 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Really? Why didn't I think of that?
posted by dg at 3:05 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my mind, Blasdelb's story starred Ron Swanson.
posted by hifimofo at 4:23 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


...a sailboat of this size has several thousand pounds of ballast in the keel...

Unlike a modern cruise ship, which can tip over on its side. (See: Costa Concordia disaster.)
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:38 PM on April 18, 2012


I feel like Ron Swanson would not have boned so many different things in one afternoon of sailing.
posted by thejoshu at 9:46 PM on April 19, 2012


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