You have just been exposed to a valuable experience, and here are a few things you may extract from it:
1) Carefully check charts
prior to leaving dock
, and do your best to commit to memory the areas with shallow depths. These areas, like places with rocks and other hazards are places to avoid.
(Some areas have predominantly shallow areas, and you need to be able to tell when you're getting there.) Throughout the sail, continue to refer to the chart to verify you will stay clear of hazards, including shoal water. We like to have paper charts
, in the cockpit
, and in a "raincoat", if need be. Chartplotters, and this is a personal preference only, do (for me) not show enough of the whole picture, while still being quite useful.
2) Shallow waters get stirred up quickly, and if the wind
is ahead of the beam, the motion becomes jerky, and people unaccustomed to that motion often become seasick. It is important to let them know that the feeling will go away, usually before the end of the day, and throwing up will help some, in most cases. This subject is covered in the many threads on seasickness.
3) Sailboats make leeway, and if the breeze is onshore, the vessel will be set down onto the shallows. Tack offshore
to get a little sea room.
If you become familiar with weather patterns in your area, you can use them to plan your sail so that it is comfortable for your guests. For instance, wind strength where i learned to sail generally builds during the day. So most non-racing sails
started out with the upwind leg, then had a lunch break, and the downwind leg in the afternoon.
I'm sure others will have more to add here, but this, I hope, will get you started. And remember, experience is something you get just after you needed it!
And other thing: although I hate it, I have allowed our boat to touch bottom, once by failure to see the next mark in a curved channel and adjust course appropriately and once by failure to realize when the buoyage changed, actually itself due to not paying adequate attention to the chart. Most people with lots of experience will tell you something like, "if you've never been aground, you've never been anywhere." You're doing the right thing, trying to learn from the experience.