Ayuthia, an 80-year-old traditional wooden sailing vessel, made the first official passage through the brand new Lagoon Pond drawbridge Saturday morning.

Lagoon Pond drawbridge is raised for first time Saturday morning. — Steve Myrick

With gray fog hanging over Vineyard Haven, Ayuthia waited patiently in the Lagoon for the drawbridge to open, which it did considerably quicker than its predecessor, built in 1935.

Traffic barriers are not yet installed on the lanes of the bridge, which spans the channel between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. State police were on hand to stop vehicles when the bridge opened at 11 a.m.

Tom Grew, master of the 46-foot gaff-rigged ketch, stood on the starboard side of Ayuthia as the boat motored from the Lagoon to outer Vineyard Haven Harbor. Vineyard Haven harbor master Jay Wilbur was at the helm

Tom Grew and his gaff-rigged ketch Ayuthia had first honors for passing beneath drawbridge. — Steve Myrick

The new channel is about 50 feet closer to the Vineyard Haven side than the old channel, and wider. The span opens to a nearly vertical position. The old bridge stopped at a steep angle, leaving a narrow opening for tall masts to slip through, a harrowing experience for some helmsmen. Mr. Wilbur said the new design makes passage much safer.

“Everything worked great,” Mr. Wilbur said. “The visibility was greatly improved. The channel is much straighter. From inside the Lagoon, I could see right across the harbor. You don’t have to turn. You used to come out of the bridge and make a hard left.”

Ayuthia was built in Bangkok, Thailand in 1936, when the southeast Asian nation was known as Siam. She is built almost entirely of teak.

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