Accidents Will happen

I was Eastbound in Galveston Bay, lining up on the combination Causeway-railroad bridge span, headed for Houston. The weather was almost perfect, a light wind off my stern, a little outbound tide. In other words, there was no good reason we ended up in this predicament…..

It isn’t clear here, but we are stuck on top off some pilings, and are wedged in the bridge opening. The bridge was closed for two hours as we struggled to get the barges free.

A view from the bow looking towards the boat. We broke some wires while pulling on the tow, which is why it looks cock-eyed.

As we approached the bridge, my deckhand, who was on the bow with a radio, told me that I was 5 feet on the bad side of the starboard side of the opening, I started correcting, and was told that I was in the clear. The opening is narrow, so I turned slightly back to starboard to avoid hitting the port side. However, my deckhand yelled into the radio, “You’re going the wrong way. We’re gonna hit!’

Now, What he saw was that i was approaching the port side and he should have said ‘turn hard to starboard’, which I was already doing. But I did not know which way he meant for me to turn, as we had empties, and they sat so high, my view was limited. I tried calling him, but he was still keying his mike, talking about me hitting the pilings, so I pulled the engines out of gear and threw them into reverse , but it was too late, and we rode up onto the cluster of pilings.


The barge has a lip where a one-inch plate of steel overlaps another, and the lip had caught on the piling. Three boats had to help us get moving again.

Back underway, no damage to the barges or the bridge. The piling was messed up a bit, but it is a temporary anyway, I just made it more so.


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