The two bridges spanning the Backwater Channel connecting the port facilities, and Hamworthy, with Poole, are operated by Poole Borough Council, though the navigation of the waterway is the responsibility of Poole Harbour Commision.
The MVS Poole Unit regularly provides patrols of the Backwater Channel on behalf of the Harbour Master and operate in close liason with the Bridge Operator to provide support, assistance, advice and guidance to vessels in the vicinity of the bridges. These duties range between improving communication between the Bridge Operator and craft that have no VHF Radio, providing detailed advice on bridge lift sequences, times and procedures to users, assiting craft in difficulty where possible (our patrol boats are often called upon to tow boats in this area having mechanical failures to a safe berth). Also, those members patrolling complete a daily log of 'incidents' for the Harbour Master. Depending on the nature of the incident these may be followed up further by PHC staff, and in some rarer cases formal reports are required that may be used to secure successful prosecutions. Though mainly, we're there to provide support, assistance and usually a friendly smile and wave!
The Bridge Operator can be contacted on VHF Channel 12 using the call sign "Poole Bridge"
General bridge lifting information can be obtained on the Borough of Poole website here
A PDF of the lifting schedule can be downloaded here
In brief, the bridges will operate a scheduled lift at 30minutes past the hour between the hours of 05.30 and 23.30, on weekends and bank holidays. During the week there are no lifts at 8.30 13.30 17.30 and 20.30.
Between 5.30 and 14.30 the bridge sequence favours outbound vessels, with the Twin Sails bridge lifting first, followed by the Poole (Old Town) Bridge. The Twin Sails will then lift again, if required, to accomodate inbound vessels. Between 15.30 and 23.30. Though do note that this sequence order can be changed at the discretion of the Bridge Operator to take account of marine traffic, tides, weather and other factors. It is advised that vessels be on station for the first lift of the sequence in case the usual order is reversed and to maintain a listening watch on VHF Channel 12
Significance Of Signals
A flashing red signal shall indicate a serious emergency and shall convey the prohibition that vessels shall not proceed beyond the signal.
A green signal shall indicate that vessels may proceed beyond the signal.
A red-with-yellow signal shall indicate that vessels may proceed with caution beyond the signal.
Various Bridge Related Links
Watch Your Wash! - PHC publication about affects of boat wash, particularly in the Backwater Channel. Includes details of speed limits relating to 'speed through the water' not the more commonly used 'speed over ground' by Satellite navigations systems, in other words, if you are travelling at 6knots, according to your chart plotter, or sat nav, and you are going against a 2 knot current, your actual speed is 8knots! Also includes mention of a prosecution by PHC resulting in fines/costs of over £5000
Poole Bridges Byelaws - includes definition of vessels that Harbour Traffic Signals apply to, basically any craft from kayak upwards. It is also worth noting that the definition of bridge relates to the entire span of the bridge, not just the centre opening leaves. a 'level 3' fine plus costs can be the result of a succesful prosecution. CCTV and VHF recording is constant and recordings can be used to secure convinctions.