What are the worst ways to ruin a boat, or sink it, or get into big trouble with it, that are also the most common, & also caused by lack of knowledge? What are the worst dangers a boater could get himself into through ignorance, lack of knowledge or just not paying attention? Can you share from first-hand experience? I'm mainly looking for things I cannot guess. I don't need the obvious stuff, like don't sail to sea without checking the weather
, or don't throw the anchor
w/out making sure it's tied.
There are big harbors that do not allow anchoring
due to "Underground cables", such as the Houson Harbor. I consider places like that a trap. You can sail up into the safe-harbor if the weather
is bad, but, the marina is, naturally, very expensive. Don't get me wrong, the harbormaster there is a delightful man with integrity, & his staff is great, but that place isn't cheap
, & when you cannot anchor
, who can blame them? The other option if you're in the harbor & it's getting late is to head
out to sea, but the entrance to the Houston
harbor is very busy, with huge skyscraper ships coming from many different directions. If you don't have radar
, bright lights, & radar
reflective devices you could easily end up wrecked. Don't go anywhere near that entrance of a busy harbor near dark. You have to give yourself time to clear the jettys. The Jettys can become invisible at high-tide as they submerge. What other harbors are dangerous due to it being illegal to anchor out, busy with huge freight ships, unbouyed ICW
w/ random high grounds nearby...?
The intracoastal waterway near Houston
is very narrow, with an unbouyed channel. You cannot tell which place is deep & which is shallow without a depthsounder, or chartplotter
. The deep & shallow spots are constantly shifting & there's no indicator of what's what. But the worst part is that there are these huge skyscraper barges constantly going through there & when you have to get out of their way, it's very easy to run aground. You have to have a generator
, or some way to get a lot of consistent power to supply the GPS chartplotter
or depthsounder, or you have to have a good chart.
You just cannot rely on solar panels
or a windgenerator when out on the ICW
. There's not always places to anchor or moor down that are legal
. A backup generator
, or the inboard's alternator
is very helpful at times. If you get grounded & it's late & you decide to sleep, why not set the anchor alarm
& drop anchor before the tide rises while you're asleep? Also wake up often & keep a steady watch.
Test your outboard engine
before heading out with you newly bought gas! The gas that's in the tank may be high octane & your just-purchased gas may not and it might not run with regular gas. Test to see if your outboard
will run on the fuel
before the purchase
near jettys (those huge pile of rocks piled up in a straight line along the entrance to harbors) is a sure way to sink boat. When the harbor entrance is busy and it's at night, the shallows near the jetty may seem like a safe place to not get hit by the huge boats, but anchors drag, and jetties will bash shunks from a hull
and after a few hours of bashing, sink a boat entirely. One way to get out of a lee shore, if all the backups have failed, is to use your dingy as a towboat. You got to have a working dingy.
Keep a sharp lookout when you frist drop anchor! Look every minute or so, but be vigilant. You could be moving & not hear your anchor drag, or lift
& it might not make a sound. You could be rifting & be entirely unaware. The sounds of the water
& the movement of the boat may give NO indicator that your drifting into a lee shore. You have to watch the shore & use 2 reference points in a straight line on land. For instance, a tower that is a few hundred feet in front of a house. Line those up and if they move apart alot, your drifting, or you're boat is trning, or sailing at anchor, which is common. Always save battery
capacity for your GPS
. Those things are priceless. Make sure it works before you take off! On mine you have to hold the powerbutton for a considerably long time before it turns on. You don't want to figure this stuff out when you're out there.
About your jib
, it's easy to shred to hell if you don't know what you're doing. When the wind
is blowing hard that is the WORST time to remove the sheets
(rope) so that you can untangle it. If you remove your sheets
when the wind
is blowing hard, the tip corner of the jib
(front sail) will flap back & forth violently and tear your sail to tatters in a heartbeat. It doesn't take long. Keep your jib corners anchor down! If it tangles up in a wind, consider untangling it later when the wind dies down & just tie some knots around it as best you can, but whatever ou do, don't untie it's ropes & let it flap in even moderate winds (20 mph).
The Coastguard is there to rescue
you, NOT your boat. Be prepared to lose your boat entirely if you call for help. They are not a tow company. Tow companys have charged $250/hour both getting to your boat, hooking up and hauling it. I've heard about sailors refusing to leave their boat, even after being ordered to. Always obey authorities (if it's the law) & don't call them unless it's a real emergency
. When they command/order you to leave your boat & then haul you away by helicopter, what will happen to your boat?
When grounded, if there's plenty of wind, try backwinding the sail. Take your boom and manually move it to the side that it normally wouldn't be when sailing & move it way out to get a broad reach to grab a lot of that wind and you might find yourself sailing out of your stuck position. It's sure easier than the other techniques, but doesn't always work.
If you don't know about corrosion
, look into it. It could save you a lot of money
. Any 2 dissimalar metals in seawater acts as a battery
and will slowly corrode, or eat away one of the metals. To solve this, you have to ground all your metals to the negative post on your battery, and to each other, and also put a big chunk of anode on the metals that are outside of your boat. I'm certainly no expert, but this seems to be the most important part. Also, don't let different metals fall into the bilge water
charge an arm & a leg, & not all anchorages
have free dingy docks. Do your homework if you're looking to liveaboard
. Make sure you don't pick an anchorage next to an airport
, police station, firestation, & construction crew & also has a $5 per use dingy dock
. Oh, it has a (the mysterious & well kept secret) free dingy dock
, but it's only of use at high tide, & no one really knows how much of a window you have :P... "Oh yeah, the free dingy dock, of course, it's right around the corner (pointing that way) just past ramp
. Everyone uses it, it's at the Benetau boats." Well, no, there is no free dock there. When moored there, you get a nice little note telling you that, basically, you're trespassing & a nice little map to the $5 dingy dock.
If the anchor drags, put a kettle on the line, or a 15' 1/2" chain to hang half-way down the anchor line, and also a long snubber.
You can't rely on a fishing
pole to catch food
. I don't know if there is a reliable way to catch seafood when out at anchor.
Get a strong flashlight for those foggy nights on the ICW when you cannot find a safe anchorage, or for sighting the huge ships if you find yourelf stuck in a busy harbor.
Seasickness! Get the accupressure wristbands. They sell them at drugstores for motionsickness (airplane rides). People who get seasick often will go days without even drinking water
to avoid vomiting it back up! Very dangerous when sailing. Those wrist bands can save your life.