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(Enlarge) After workers swing open the center span of the Amtrak Bridge in Havre de Grace Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Scott's yacht makes it way through the opening. (Photo by Nicole Munchel | Record staff)

Kevin Scott is not a superhero, but he can get an old, iron bridge to swing open.

The Havre de Grace resident is one of a handful of people who request to have the Amtrak bridge over the Susquehanna River open so their boat with a mast taller than 50 feet can get through.

The result is that those on either side of the Harford-Cecil border can occasionally catch a glimpse of the bridge’s center part swinging open and a vessel sailing through.

Scott and his wife, Donna, had Amtrak open the bridge for them Tuesday so they could move their 41-foot Morgan Out Island yacht from the Havre de Grace Marina, just north of the bridge, to the yacht basin at Millard Tydings Memorial Park.

“Every couple of years, I will pull it out while I do some maintenance,” Kevin Scott explained about his 1971 boat, which he bought about 10 years ago.

“It’s pretty much a restoration project,” he said.

Since 2000, he has moved the boat three or four times to the marina for the winter and back to the yacht basin, poised for a launch into the Chesapeake Bay, in the spring.

The mast on the Scotts’ boat is only about two feet taller than the bridge’s clearance over the Susquehanna of about 52 feet at low tide.

“It depends on the tide. Some can get under the bridge when the tide is lower,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, I am higher than even the lowest tide.”

Although he said it is not too much of a hassle, having the bridge opened does call for adherence to strict rules by Amtrak.

Karina Romero, media relations manager for the railroad company, said the bridge opens an average of five to eight times each year.

“Due to the amount of rail traffic that travels across the Susquehanna River Bridge daily, opening it for marine traffic requires considerable coordination among several Amtrak departments as well as the Havre de Grace Marina,” she said in an e-mail. “Requests must be received at least 24 hours in advance.”

On the warm, breezy early afternoon Tuesday, the Scotts’ sailboat sat on the north side of the bridge an hour before the scheduled opening at 12:15 p.m.

Amtrak requires the vessel to be at the bridge about an hour early, and schedules the openings around its existing train schedule so trains aren’t stopped.

Northbound trains continued to cross the river roughly every 15 minutes, until a group of about 25 orange-vested workers finally made their way from the Cecil County shore to the center span, walking single-file along the rails.

They split into two groups on each side of the center span and swung it open just enough for the Morgan Out Island to zip across; the whole process took less than 10 minutes.

While Scott did not know he would have to make such a request when he bought the boat, “it really was not that big of a surprise to know that a bridge would have to open here or there,” he said. “It’s just one of those things when you’re on the water.”

Scott, who grew up in Perryville, has sailed together with his wife and their children, Sarah, 14, and Elliott, 12, to places like Still Pond and Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore. In 2008, he went on a 25-day trip from Cape Charles, Va., to the islands of Bermuda and St. Thomas.

He eventually plans to go on an even bigger adventure: sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. That voyage could take closer to two months.

Until then, the bridge across Susquehanna will keep swinging open to let a few of the area’s sailors continue their explorations.


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