Swing and Lift BridgesLift Bridge

Operating lift and swing bridges is another good opportunity to practise considerate boating.

Before you operate a bridge that restricts foot or vehicular traffic, have a good look to see if another boat is approaching. If there is, then operate the bridge in such a way that it is kept open for the minimum amount of time.

In any event, be ready to keep the bridge open for the other boat and wave them through either before or after your own boat depending on the timing of their arrival.

Some bridges are particularly difficult or heavy to operate and if you are the second boat to arrive at the bridge be ready to despatch your own crew to help.


If you are operating a bridge and you keep the bridge open for a following boat then the other boat will get ahead of you. Don't be concerned by this. It is not a race. Let them go on and if experience is anything to go by, they will get to the next bridge before you and do the same for you.

If you are the one who has been allowed to get ahead then as you pass and thank the other boater, ask them if they would prefer to overtake you after the bridge. Or if you know that the next restriction is another lift or swing bridge then tell them that if they remain in sight of you then you will operate the bridge for them in return.

If you are the one who has been allowed to get ahead and your next stop is a lock, waterpoint or similar "queuing" restriction then wave the other boat ahead of you to allow them to use the lock first. You never know, they might decline your offer and allow you to go first.


Don't assume the approaching boat is also going through the bridge. If you leave the bridge open and hop back onto your boat from the off-side and the other boat turns into a marina or simply moors up then the bridge could be left in an inconsiderate or even dangerous state.

Even if the other boat is going through, they might not be as fit as you and may be unable the get off on the off-side. They might also think that the bridge should be left open having found it open on arrival.

Don't be tempted to leave lift bridges open by wedging them open with a branch or the like. If your boat, or another boat starts to go under and the bridge falls there could be an expensive repair to deal with or even personal injury!