The Sunshine Skyway is a landmark of our beautiful Tampa Bay area. I drive it often from Bradenton to St. Pete, Clearwater and Tampa. I recently was on my way to Clearwater to photograph the rock band Foreigner. As I was approaching the bridge, I looked out to see two cruise ships out in the bay. It occurred to me that those ships would be making it to the bridge soon. I decided to make a stop at the north fishing pier where there is a good view of the bridge. There were several people who had also stopped to watch as the ships got closer to the bridge.
I grabbed my camera and took a few shots while waiting to see the ships pass under the bridge. The first ship was the Norwegian Dawn and the second ship was a Royal Caribbean. These are both smaller vessels in the fleets these days, as now there are the Megaships! They are far too large to pass under the bridge and most of those go out of Port Miami. The Norwegian ship was the largest and first to pass through under the bridge, it was amazing to watch it move through and so close to its smokestack. I have seen this with the Carnival ships as well with their tail just barely clearing the bridge. I took some photos and then realized I needed to get back on the road to head to the show, I didn’t have time to wait for the Royal Caribbean ship to clear the bridge. Maybe I will catch that next time!
The next day I posted one of the photos of the ship going under the bridge as my Facebook cover photo. I had no idea at first that it was being shared by people and then Sarasota’s ABC7 Suncoast News showed the photo on the morning and noon newscasts! Tampa’s ABC Action News also shared it on their Facebook! What a wonderful surprise that this photo had gone viral! Thank you to them for that! As a photographer, you hope someone will like your work and what you see through the lens!
I have been on a cruise that has gone under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and on a 17’ fishing boat! I have driven over the old and new bridges since 1976. I have taken many photos around and of the bridge over the years. I attended and wrote a story on the Skyway Monument dedicated to the fallen thirty-five people that lost their lives on the old bridge on that fateful day of May 9, 1980. I met some of the families and was truly touched by them and their stories of their loved ones. The bridge has a lot of history and I will tell you that I am not fond of driving the bridge at night or in the rain. But still, on a beautiful sunny day, it is one of the most beautiful views in Tampa Bay!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography