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Old 13-10-2003, 06:24   #1
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Running aground

Hi everyone,

This topic might have been covered before, but it's one that can always be updated. Running aground has to be one of the worst feelings sailing. I’ve run my 26 footer aground three times, which is a pretty major accomplishment considering that she only draws 3’2". The first time it happened was in the Pamlico sound, heading towards the NC outer banks. I ran the boat aground on a lee shore during some heavy weather. At the time, it was my first offshore trip, and it happened many years ago. I made plenty of mistakes. The boat was heeled over and waves were coming across the rail. I was concerned that my cockpit was going to flood. My wife and daughter were very upset over our predicament. My nine year old daughter thought that we would be washed over board, and on out to sea. I tried to explain to them that the boat only draws 3’ 2" and that we should be able to walk to shore in the worst case scenario, but it didn’t seem to matter. I called the Coast Guard and requested assistance. They asked me two questions: “Is anyone injured, and is the boat taking on water.” Well, to answer the first question, yes, my pride was injured and I had two women on board that were some what hysterical, but I had to honestly answer “no” to the Coast Guardsman’s question. To the second question, well yes, we were taking on water, but we weren’t in danger of sinking. So, I again feebly muttered “no.” With those two responses, they told me to call a commercial tow vessel. They asked that I report back in often on my progress. So much for the easy way out. Now, I was on my own. I thought about using my anchor to kedge off. I had never done it before, but had read about how it’s done. I didn’t have a dinghy, so I thought about using the life jackets to float the anchor and rode out on. I looked down in the water around the boat, and it was full of small sea nettles. I dreaded getting in the water with them, but I slipped overboard and had my wife hand down to me the life jackets, anchor, and rode. Once the anchor was floating on the life jackets, I started waded my way out towards deeper water as the sea nettles occasionally stung me. Once the water was over my head, I drop the anchor and pulled on the rode to get it to dig in. I kept the rode tight as I worked my way back to the boat. By this time, a man and his two teenage sons had seen us from the shore and decided to come out to help. They waded out to the boat. Just seeing them gave my wife and daughter some comfort. I guess it was because they knew that there was civilization close by, and that they didn’t have to rely totally on me to get us out of our mess. I explained to them about kedging off with my anchor, and they agreed to help push the boat as much as they could. I ran the anchor rode to one of my winches, and slowly starting tightening the line. The bow slowly turned towards the deeper water as I throttled my diesel for full power to aid the momentum. I raised my sails to get the boat to heel as much as possible. With a combination of kedging, diesel, and manpower push, the boat slowly made her way off of the shoal, and into deeper water. Once the boat was free, she really started to pick up speed. The anchor rode was quickly drawing towards its bitter end. I frantically dug through my cockpit locker trying to find another line to tie on to it. By the time I found one, the bitter end was drawing taunt on the winch. I took it off and tried in vain to tie another line on to it, before it was pulled from my hand and into the water. I yelled to our friends that helped us to grab the anchor rode, but they couldn’t hear me and the rode slipped beneath the waves to stay there, along with my new CQR anchor. Once sailing, I called the ferry boat terminal on Cedar Island and requested to be allowed into their port to take refuge from the bad weather. They reluctantly agreed. We eventually made it to our intended destination, Ocracoke Island, but we did so without an anchor on board, and with an electric bilge pump that had quit working. The whole experience made me re-evaluate my boats offshore readiness, and I’ve made many changes since then. To me, these are the “hard lessons learned”, that you never forget. Have you had a similar one?
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Old 13-10-2003, 07:05   #2
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There are only two types of sailers .

those that have run aground & those that will. it's only a mater of time . with a 7'6"+ draft we find the bottom quit often .
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Old 13-10-2003, 07:54   #3
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Dolce Vita,

I saw a picture of your boat here on the board. She's a real beauty! With the 7'6" draft, I imagine you guys have used about every trick imaginable to get off the bottom when the keel starts plowing its row. Fair winds to you during your voyage!
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Old 13-10-2003, 08:17   #4
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Yep, many years ago, I started painting all the rocks in Lake Superior a nice light blue colour (to match my anti-fouling).
I've applied the same principle to sand bars (bores) etc in The Bahamas, but the paint don't stick so well - so I have to keep going back & do it all over again.
As said, there's those that "have" & those "that will", to which I'd add "those that lie".
With humility,
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Old 13-10-2003, 08:52   #5
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Hi Gord,

It was good to see your comments this morning. I've never had a chance to sail on any of the Great Lakes. I've seen parts of Lake Eerie (sp) one time while in Cleveland, but that's about it. I've always thought of Lake Superior as being a real deep lake. Reading your remarks, I realize that there are a lot of shallow areas, but I was wondering, how deep is deep there?
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Old 13-10-2003, 19:20   #6
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I think the best trick when you run aground is to check the tides , light the bbq and grill a steak , have a sundowner if its a long wait to the next high tide. And then the work begins
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Old 14-10-2003, 02:52   #7
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L. Superior

Superior is quite deep (600'), with lots of steep to shorelines (Cdn. Northern Shore).
The rocks, that I (so kindly) "marked" are mostly in & about the many Islands & Coves along the Northern Shorline. this shoreline is mostly wilderness, with no road access, and a hurricaine hole anchorage every 10 miles or so. Great cruisin', but COLD!
Regards,
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Old 04-11-2003, 05:47   #8
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How to ground / unground, ground / unground, ground, bump, bump, ground / unground, bump, ground and unground, all in one day.

My wife and I were moving our 40’ Endeavour from Clearwater Beach to a marina in St. Petersburg Florida. (20 miles) We chose a Saturday, as it was her day off of work, the beginning of the month to coincide with the ending of one lease, and the beginning of another; it was a pretty day as well. It was severe clear, but a bit windy with small craft advisories issued. We decided to take the ICW down, as we have never been on this portion of the ICW before. We would get to see some new sights, learn this part of the route, travel in fairly smooth waters (compared to the Gulf) and just have a relaxing voyage south. The old Perkins needed a good work out anyhow.

The wind was a steady 15 kts with gusts to 20 out of the East as we traveled south. We departed Clearwater at 0830, tide outbound with a little extra low arriving around 1330 in the region. We were on our way.

Everything was just ducky until about 1030 when we were crossing the channel to John’s Pass. I saw a narrow part on the south side of the pass, which appeared to be about 50 feet wide. I was in 6’ of water in the center of the ICW. My boat draws 4’8” when I’m on my diet. Well, here comes a big powerboat north bound. I ease to the right side of the channel at day marker 3 to give the powerboat plenty of room to whiz by. His wake, combined with the easterly wind was enough to lift me gently up onto the shoal and bring us to a sudden stop. During the first few moments of ‘less than church type language’, another powerboat wake sealed our doom.

I had previously wondered if the $100.00 unlimited towing I had signed up for earlier in the year was worth it. Well, I’m about to find out if the advertising was accurate.

I called Boat US on Ch 7, gave them my position, relevant information and member number. The towboat arrived within 15 minutes, hooked up and pulled me off the shoal and back into the channel. I confirmed with the Captain that this was a tow and not salvage; I’ve read some horror stories. The Captain told me that he had never seen the channel this low before. It must have been due to the extra low tide, and easterly wind shoving all the water out into the Gulf.

I believed him, and yes, the hundred bucks was well worth it.

We were escorted through a couple of equally narrow spots for the next 10 minutes, signed our paperwork and were on our way, into what the charts described as ‘The Narrows’. Wonderful.

Yep, they were narrow.

As we eased up onto the next little bit of shoaling on the right (west) side of the channel I kept the power to her. The next powerboat wake gave back what the last two took. Just enough rise to hop us back off and into the channel.
With the wind blowing briskly as I was waiting for the next drawbridge opening, things were getting interesting again. I had to time my circles, oblong as they were, to stay inside the channel, without hitting the masses of little powerboats while waiting for my turn at the bridge. I had a small boat overtake me while on the upwind side of my circle and had to delay my crosswind turn just a moment or two. This was just enough to go bump bump and grind to a halt on the east side of the channel, pointing north.

Come on big fast heavy powerboats. Never though I would be begging for a good boat-rocking wake.

Between the wind and the requested wake, we were free once again. The journey seemed to be getting a bit better when we got to the Corey Causeway in St. Pete. They had a big hunk of 8’ deep water on the south side of the channel, out of everybody’s way, for me to hover about while waiting for the bridge.

We continue south and began our entry into the marina channel at day marker 38. I followed the hand written directions to our new home very precisely, as I had enough with being grounded for one day.

Day marker 4, bump, grind, bump, power, wiggle rudder, bump, whew, that was close.

Hey, look 1330. Low tide. Imagine that.

Day marker 8. Channel about 15’wide. My guess is that we are now about 3” taller as we grind to a halt. No need in getting frustrated. The good news is that the tide should be coming in sometime in the very near future. I’m figuring I need about 4” of extra water at this point to change my current status from debris to vessel. There is this fellow and his wife in a small fishing boat off my starboard. He was on the outward side of the channel and was preparing to leave. My wife suggested that I should have gone to the starboard side of the day marker; it looks deeper now to her than it did a few minutes ago. I was vindicated when he had to tilt his motor up to get his 10” draft free. HA!

Honey, time to fix your Captain some lunch and a cold beer please. The Marina is 1,500’ further down the channel, and golly, were not going anywhere for a while.

Just a few minutes before lunch was served I feel us easing off the sand being pushed by the wind. I get the engine started again to get us moving and keep us off the other side of the channel. Home free. Here comes the marina.

Urch….

Were now stuck, in the entrance of the marina. While stuck in the entrance we meet several of our new neighbors and get acquainted. I swear I saw some money change hands as some won, and some lost, as to weather or not we would clear the entrance.

10 minutes later were finished the last 75 yards to our new home. Much wiser, and believe it or not, much happier.

Larry and Sheree
s/v AbbyGale
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Old 28-11-2007, 19:52   #9
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I've been aground only twice in over 120 anchorages and about 20,000 nm. But then, I live on the "left" coast, where we don't have so much thin water. Both times I went aground I was up rivers with shifty mud banks. Once in Whangarei, and once in Coos Bay. Both times I just rowed out a kedge, cranked in the nylon rode as tightly as I could, pulled the boom outboard and crawled out on it, and awaited the tide. With a nylon line cranked as tightly as possible, you come off pretty smartly when there is enough water to lift you. You can almost hear the "sproing." I imagine that I would have been aground a lot more on the "right" coast, where thin water is so common.
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Old 28-11-2007, 20:04   #10
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I live on the Great Sandy straits - you can imagine, you dont sail here long without touching the bottom. (I think it took me all of 2 hours) So far, I've been lucky though, the only times I have gotten stuck have been when the tide was still rising, so I was on my way again in half an hour or so.

I'm hoping the new boat will be nearly immune to grounding - with boards and rudders up it will draw 450mm - about 18 inches.
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Old 28-11-2007, 20:12   #11
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Quote:
I'm hoping the new boat will be nearly immune to grounding - with boards and rudders up it will draw 450mm - about 18 inches.
The bottom generally rises to any occasion. There will always be shoal waiting for you. It's just best to double check the charts and smile for the chance to prove your ability to get away free yet again. The practice of the past is skill for the future. Just think how easy it will be next time.
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Old 28-11-2007, 22:09   #12
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The first time I ran aground was the first day I owned a sailboat (27 footer with a 3.5' keel). I didn't exactly 'run' aground - I anchored just fine, but I sort of forgot about the tide. I woke up about 2 AM when I rolled off the settee onto the cabin sole. Fortunately, the tide began to come back in when the water was about 6" from invading the cockpit.

When we went cruising about 8 years ago, we ran aground twice in the Bahamas. I always laugh when people tell you that you can't go cruising unless you crew on boats, charter boats, buy progressively larger boats, take courses, practice, etc. Yes, you can read about it, but does anyone set sail in gale force winds to practice storm tactics? How about deliberately running aground to practice getting off? The truth is that you do everything you can to avoid these things - the more successful you are, the less 'experience' you gain. It is only when the bad things happen anyway that you really learn how to deal with them.
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Old 28-11-2007, 22:17   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sy Dolce Vita View Post
There are only two types of sailers .

those that have run aground & those that will. it's only a mater of time . with a 7'6"+ draft we find the bottom quit often .

DOLCE..... you're at the municipal marina in St Augustine???
I think I actually "drooled" a little while admiring your yacht one evening....
stunning boat!
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Old 29-11-2007, 06:29   #14
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If any of you guys know San Diego harbor, the sand bar (noted on the charts, sadly) on the west side of the Coranado Bridge, if approaching from the north, is a favorite little place of mine to thump against.

I hit it under sail a couple months ago, and just kind of sat there with a grin on my face as my friend starting laughing at me. Engines on, full reverse. As the diver to double check it, and review at haul out regardless.

I've gotten a lot better at watching my tides lately. Especially if I'm not in my own backyard.
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Old 27-01-2008, 21:43   #15
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Originally Posted by sy Dolce Vita View Post
There are only two types of sailers .

those that have run aground & those that will.
I thought it was "those that have run aground & those that lie"
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