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Old 11-01-2012, 19:06   #1
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Cruising the Tropics - How Much Draft is Too much ?

I quite fancy a 46' monohull, but it has 6'6" draft and I live in Queensland and expect to spend most of my time in the tropics. I'm keen to hear how people with deep draft boats manage - is it just quick visits to areas with deep channels, or are they able to gunkhole a bit and really explore the areas?

Problem is, to get a shallow draft I'll need a cat or perhaps displacement motor cruiser. I can't see a cat under 40' having enough hull width for pleasant accommodation, and at those lengths cats start to get expensive.

It would also appear that most 'shoal draft' monos still have more draft than desirable, but some feedback from people who have been-there-done-that would be good.
Brian
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Old 11-01-2012, 19:19   #2
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

A 46 foot cat is about equal to a 60 foot Mono, in accomadation equivelents,

Most of the tropics is shallow water, especially in close to the beach where you want to be,

So the less draught you have the closer you are to the beach,

Right up north, The tide goes out for 2 miles,
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Old 11-01-2012, 19:22   #3
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

Data:

We have been cruising in the SW pacific since 1990, and have spent a great deal of time on the east coast of Oz, many trips up and down Queensland. Both of our boats have had drafts of 2.2 metres (7'2"). It has not been a big deal. We need to watch the tides going through Sandy Straits and the Broadwater and there are doubtless some places we can't quite reach. But, as we tell our shoaler draft friends, we all run aground now and then... we just do it a little farther from the beach!

In the non-Australian SP tropics it has not been an issue at all, with one exception: there are a few cyclone anchorages that we can't access. All too many mangrove creeks have bars at their entrances, and some of these preclude our using that particular spot.

There seem to be folks who fear deeper draft for some reason. When we were attempting to sell Insatiable -one in Manly, some prospective buyers said that it was impossible to sail in Moreton Bay with over 6 feet of draft. The fact that we had been doing just that for many years didn't seem to penetrate their prejudiced minds. Their loss...

Best of luck, Brian!

Cheers,

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Old 11-01-2012, 19:29   #4
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Originally Posted by Mr B View Post
Most of the tropics is shallow water, especially in close to the beach where you want to be,

So the less draught you have the closer you are to the beach,

Right up north, The tide goes out for 2 miles,
Gosh Mr B, I would have thought that your recent experience would have changed your attitude about anchoring close to the beach.

And as to "most of the tropics is shallow water"... certainly hasn't been our experience cruising in the Queensland tropics, or any of the other South Pacific tropics that we've been visiting. Perhaps you could show us all these areas so that we can continue to avoid them.

Jim
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Old 11-01-2012, 20:19   #5
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Gosh Mr B, I would have thought that your recent experience would have changed your attitude about anchoring close to the beach.

And as to "most of the tropics is shallow water"... certainly hasn't been our experience cruising in the Queensland tropics, or any of the other South Pacific tropics that we've been visiting. Perhaps you could show us all these areas so that we can continue to avoid them.

Jim
Stay out of the Kimberlys then, They have a 30 foot tide, or 10 metres Hahahahaha

The beach is a looooong way out there,

No, I havent changed my mind about anchoring too close to the beach.

I put the bows on the sand in the day time and back off for the night,

I like 7 feet minimum of water under me at low tide, Night time,

Decent reliable anchors, ones I can trust, Number one priority,

I lived and worked my way up the Queensland coast for a few years, fishing on motor boats was a great pastime,

In close, a lot of it is shallow, Even for a shallow draught fishing boat, We did have a watch out the front, to stay in the channels,
Dont try it at night, Hahahahahahahaha,

And the sand bars could move from day to day. Thats a real pain in the butt.
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Old 11-01-2012, 20:34   #6
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

South Pacific Islands are different to Australian beaches, We have beaches that are flat and gradual going out a long way in most cases,

Fiji goes from 12000 feet deep to a reef or Island out of the water in 6 feet, Then its mainly 66 feet deep every where,

Vanuatu is the same, 300 feet deep to above ground in a few feet,

I know, I sailed through both at night time, Not some thing I will do again,
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Old 11-01-2012, 20:48   #7
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Data:

We have been cruising in the SW pacific since 1990, and have spent a great deal of time on the east coast of Oz, many trips up and down Queensland. Both of our boats have had drafts of 2.2 metres (7'2"). It has not been a big deal. We need to watch the tides going through Sandy Straits and the Broadwater and there are doubtless some places we can't quite reach. But, as we tell our shoaler draft friends, we all run aground now and then... we just do it a little farther from the beach!

In the non-Australian SP tropics it has not been an issue at all, with one exception: there are a few cyclone anchorages that we can't access. All too many mangrove creeks have bars at their entrances, and some of these preclude our using that particular spot.

There seem to be folks who fear deeper draft for some reason. When we were attempting to sell Insatiable -one in Manly, some prospective buyers said that it was impossible to sail in Moreton Bay with over 6 feet of draft. The fact that we had been doing just that for many years didn't seem to penetrate their prejudiced minds. Their loss...

Best of luck, Brian!

Cheers,

Jim
Thanks Jim, I know from having seen your posts on a lot of threads that you have huge cruising experience and very much appreciate and respect your opinion. I just wasn't sure how much of it was in the tropics, so thanks for the specific comments regarding that.

I'll think long and hard on this, as a 40-44' cat, as fabulous as it would be, is probably altogether too much boat for me most of the time. Friends might just have to BYO boat if wanting to arrive in numbers....

When I was living on North Stradbroke Island many years ago the standard boatie line was 'you don't know Moreton Bay until you've walked every square inch of it'. Well, despite there being a lot of sand/shallow water visible at low tide there are also plenty of channels. A good chart and some navigation skills avoids most of the unplanned walks! So, with same approach it seems like a 6' draft is much more manageable than urban myths would allow.

And I think best solution for managing cyclone season is to head south before it starts.

And those shallow spots of interest would be accessible via a good (as opposed to basic) tender anyway.
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Old 11-01-2012, 20:54   #8
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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South Pacific Islands are different to Australian beaches, We have beaches that are flat and gradual going out a long way in most cases,

Fiji goes from 12000 feet deep to a reef or Island out of the water in 6 feet, Then its mainly 66 feet deep every where,

Vanuatu is the same, 300 feet deep to above ground in a few feet,

I know, I sailed through both at night time, Not some thing I will do again,
Yes, the SP islands do have deep water around them, although you're exaggerating a bit. Flying over the area highlights how shallow much of it is, and how many reefs there are.

But they often have great lagoons entered via shallow channels. And this is the crux of my question. How many of those will I be able to get into.
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Old 11-01-2012, 21:11   #9
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Yes, the SP islands do have deep water around them, although you're exaggerating a bit. Flying over the area highlights how shallow much of it is, and how many reefs there are.

But they often have great lagoons entered via shallow channels. And this is the crux of my question. How many of those will I be able to get into.
I have a Garmin GPS Blue water chart and a 300 foot depth chart, and I found them to be very accurate, Especially in the day time when you could see into the water and check the charts accuracy,

They give you near exact positions for deep water channels, and the depths of the water along the coast line, and a lot of tide charts as well.

If you have the right electronic charts, it tells you quite clearly whether you can or cant go there,

The paper maps I had are crap compared to the electronic ones I had, which are constantly updated,
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Old 11-01-2012, 21:24   #10
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Stay out of the Kimberlys then, They have a 30 foot tide, or 10 metres Hahahahaha

The beach is a looooong way out there,
Actually the Kimberley's has tides up to 12m in place's, and as far as tidal flats go thats only in a few places, look at the charts....i lived and worked there for 5 years, with a 2m draft mono, once you learn how to work the tides (current, again read the charts) it's not a problem at all....

I have seen my share of both mono's and cat's get themselves into strife up there, the tides/currents don't care what style of boat you have, if your seamanship skills leave anything to be desired, you can bet you will be on the brick's quick smart.....
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Old 11-01-2012, 21:26   #11
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

Mr B
Sure, the charts will tell you. What I'm trying to find out is how often they're gonna say 'sorry, you need shallow draft to get into this gorgeous hide-away'
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Old 11-01-2012, 21:49   #12
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Mr B
Sure, the charts will tell you. What I'm trying to find out is how often they're gonna say 'sorry, you need shallow draft to get into this gorgeous hide-away'
Hop in your dinghy and go for a look, Thats the only good way,
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Old 11-01-2012, 22:01   #13
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

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Mr B
Sure, the charts will tell you. What I'm trying to find out is how often they're gonna say 'sorry, you need shallow draft to get into this gorgeous hide-away'
G'Day again,

Only place we were unable to enter a pass that we wished we could was Aitutaki in the Cooks. There 6 feet is an absolute max, and it is a pretty nice place once inside. Dang... but then again, there are a hell of a lot of islands!

We've sailed extensively in Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and less extensively in the Sollies (and lots of places further East and not so easily reached from Qld. They're all great, and our draft was not a problem.

As for tidal flats and extreme shoals near the shore... IMO these are the last place you want to have a yacht... at anchor or under way... no matter what her draft. YMMV.

Oh, BTW, back in the early '90s we often cruised in company with an old 50' race boat with 8'6" draft. They seemed to survive ok, for they're still cruising on the south island of NZ. (We used to like to send them ahead in questionable waters... if they could make it so could we, and if they couldn't, we could try to pull them off!)

Cheers,

Jim

PS It was 13 degrees in the cabin this AM. All this talk of the tropics is making me wonder why we're going to Tassie!
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Old 11-01-2012, 22:21   #14
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15"...

The Philippine bancas have flat bottoms and look to have a maximum draft of 15". This enables them to come over reefs at high tide and to anchor close to the shore. Essential given the anchors that they use.

New Guinea lakatois have a similar draft.

I've seen reports that suggest 100m of chain is not enough some places.
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Old 11-01-2012, 22:49   #15
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Re: Cruising the tropics: how much draft is too much?

Well, I'll pass on the Philippines for a while for other reasons. And 3' was least draft of any of the cats I was looking at. So if there are no passes through the reef I'll just have to pass by.

Ah Jim, it wont stay 13. And I'm sure it was different last week! And this is the season to be down there. You will get some warm days, but enjoy glorious long, and daylight, evenings. Port Davey/Bathurst Harbour is on my must-do list. Are you headed there this trip?
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