When the Wilderness Adventurer headed to Hoodsport as the first stop of the Un-Cruise Adventures Washington Coastal cruise, I had hoped to have a chance to see the Hood Canal Bridge from a boat’s point of view. It’s a pretty interesting bridge.
Most draw bridges lift upward to let boats pass through. A few turn sideways to make an opening. In a rather unique fashion, the Hood Canal bridge does neither. It withdraws part of the bridge into itself, underneath the other layer.
I found a brief video on the state DOT site, which is definitely worth the 15 seconds or so it takes to watch it. Unfortunately they have no embed code so the best I could do is this link:
It shows the bridge raising up and the road sliding under.
When boats go through, the first cars in line stop on the bridge. I’ve never been close enough to the front of the line to get out and see if you could see anything when the bridge opens though. Just close enough to see the boat approach on one side of the bridge and disappear behind the waiting cars and then emerge on the other. You wouldn’t get to see the bridge move from the boat since it opens before the boat gets there, but could still see what the bridge looks like from water level while passing through. It’s usually around a 20 minute wait for the cars. When hurrying to any of the ferry docks on the other side waiting for the bridge can mean missing your intended ferry and taking a later boat.
When a navy submarine transits the canal, no bridge travelers see it go through. Police guard both ends and stop all cars before they get to the bridge. Even if you are stopped near enough to the bridge to walk to it, nobody is allowed on it or close enough to it to see anything. For some reason the submarines always go through on the surface instead of silently slipping through in the depths of the water where nobody would ever know they were there. Waiting for a sub to go through takes a long time. The time I got stopped for one it took at least an hour.
Funny how when a bridge is open it is closed and when it is closed it is open. At least from the point of view of anyone traveling in a car.
While on the Wilderness Adventurer we saw a sub on the surface in the distance, probably headed to the canal since they have a base there. From a distance is all anyone sees it though. It had an escort of navy boats that keep curious onlookers away.
Unfortunately we passed through the Hood Canal Bridge in the middle of the night in both directions on the Wilderness Adventurer, so only the captain (or whomever was at the helm) and possibly night shift crew had an opportunity to see anything, if indeed they could see it in the dark.
The Hood Canal Bridge opened in 1961 as the world’s first floating bridge over salt water, to some controversy as to whether the design could hold up to the tides and storms sure to batter the 3rd longest bridge on the planet.
Proving their worries, the western pontoons sank in a severe 1979 storm. It took until 1982 to rebuild, a sturdier bridge this time with newer technology and stronger anchors. The state had to open an old ferry run that had closed when the bridge first opened to keep traffic flowing for the several years it took to rebuild. From 2003 to 2009 the eastern half got rebuilt so now the entire bridge has better technology and sturdier anchorage than the original. Its actual name is the William A. Bugge Bridge, but if anyone called it that nobody would have a clue which bridge they meant. Other than picturing the bridge crawling with bugs named William, the name is not likely to stick in anyone’s brain.