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Old 12-09-2010, 12:44   #1
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Running Aground on a Falling Tide

Yesterday we were out sailing and right at the end I managed to do several stupid things at once that culminated in us running around, twice, on a falling tide.

We got off, mainly through luck really.

there-are-two-types-of-sailor

During this proceeding I learnt many things, but am left wondering what would have happened if we hadn't made it out. I think that we'd have been in < 1ft of water at low tide and possible high and dry, or as dry as you can get in sticky gloopy wet mud.

My biggest worry (other than getting free) was how to prevent the water from flooding the boat as it rose in the morning. Luckily we didn't have to deal with this but my approximate plan was to get the spinnaker pole wedged in the mud with items (not quite sure what) tied to the end in the mud for extra grip and somehow tied to the boat to hold it up.

Boat poles would have added to the mix, and I was considering jamming the inflatable under the side.

I have no idea if it would have worked and certainly the experience would have been pretty miserable.

Have people have first hand experiences of dealing with this situation that would help me be better prepared for it next time it happens?

Oh - my boat is 38ft and 19500lbs, roughly, with a full keel.
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Old 12-09-2010, 13:05   #2
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1) Be aware of the tide - know how much it affect you if stuck,

2) Beware if over a slope - make sure the mast will be facing the higher side of the slope,

and so on and forth - depending on the situation and the boat (a lifting keel or bilge keeler may just sit out the ebb and go on with next high water.

b.
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Old 12-09-2010, 13:53   #3
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In this case the slope was negligible, I think... guess I'd need to use the Nantucket Sounder to confirm that so that's something to add to my short list of things to do when deciding how to cope with being stuck and resigned to being there a while.

I think thats what I'm after here, a short list of things to do when your resigned to the situation:

1) Heel against slope, use sounder to evaluate slope if not apparent
2) Jam spinaker pole into mud on high side, tie cushions and other bulk items to the end in the mud to provide more purchase.
3) Hang the boat from the top end of the pole using cleats, winches and other strong areas that can be attached to a line.

The specifics of what I'm thinking about here are a full keel boat that will be high and dry in sticky mud and has a deep enough single keel to make it lie on its side (I'm going to guess > 45 degree natural lean, could be less though.

Here's some shots of what One Love looks like underneath for context:

Line drawings

These guys have pictures of the underside:

seaheather underside
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:02   #4
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I'd suggest that rather then try to figure out what to do if it happens again, you would be better off figuring what you did to get yourself anywhere close to that situation and what you can do to avoid it completely in the future.
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:12   #5
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Hi Maytrix,

Honestly I'm going to be sailing for years to come, and imagine that as I get more and more comfortable I'm going to want to explore in a way that will likely leave me stuck again. There are also times when you need to dry your boat out to do repairs, or even just do maintenance in remote areas, these situations may allow more time to get helpful materials together or they may leave you needing to do things in a hurry with the materials at hand on your boat.

Certainly though steps will be taken to avoid the situation I got myself in. I've outlined some obvious mistakes and remedies at the bottom of the post linked at the top, any further comments will be gratefully received, plus it contains a description of how we got free, using techniques I'm very glad I'd already read about. There were no excuses for what happened it all comes down to stupidity on my part, something I can't pretend I'm going to be able eliminate!

Also, even the best sailors I know, with thousands of miles under their belts in many different situations that most sailors would consider pretty extreme, run aground from time to time.

Still, you're right, better not to do it in the first place

-Tom
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:18   #6
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Duct tape over every opening on the low side of the boat. You may have inlets for heaters, engine room vents, bilge pump outlets, sink drains, fuel tank vents, fresh water vents, holding tank vents, etc that could cause flooding or contamination. I don't think this is as problematic on a sail boat but sure is on a power boat. Anyway, its worth taking a look around to see what openings there are that could let water into the boat.
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:29   #7
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Stupid me did the same thing a few weeks ago.

In horror I watched the water come up, up, up the side of the boat as she heeled more and more and more. Then the water stopped rising and started falling. She was laying as far on her side as she would go. Water never came on deck but damn close.

We draw just about 7 feet and at the lowest the water was around 2 ~ 2.5 feet. We got out OK. But I had a tow boat standing by to come rescue us if I didn't get by a certain time. I didn't want to spend 2 tides on that bar.

Luckily we are 44', and 22 tons of steel with a long full keel and keel hung rudder so no damage was done, except to my ego.
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:35   #8
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Old 12-09-2010, 14:36   #9
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One thing to think about is whether you're going to go over to windward or to leeward. A friend went aground on an ebb, and ended up with the deck facing the chop rather than away from it. He claims that a lot more green water came aboard at low tide than if he'd been tilted away from the swell. After the boat refloated, he pretty much had to rewire everything and replace the batteries and all the electronics.
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:01   #10
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But he is showing lights for "I am towing" instead of "I am aground."
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:06   #11
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Been there, got the tee shirt.

So FWIW - try to heel uphill, though as noted be aware of tide/wind/chop if that might be come relevant. It's not hard to do - as the boat begins to settle, often just jumping up and down on the side you want her to go over will often do it. If you want to be sure, disconnect the main halyard/use a spinnaker halyard and walk/dinghy uphill with it with some kind of anchor - the dinghy anchor will do - and kick it in to the mud. This is only worth it if you've lots of time, which is function of the tidal range and location.

Try to put cushions/fenders etc on the side she goes over on, to protect your hull and paintwork from any crap on the bottom.

Close all holes in the hull - using your seacocks which should be fitted to all holes! If you haven't got them then use bungs or whatever measure you have. Don't rely on duct tape! If you don't have seacocks, buy bungs and tie them beside each hole. Close them all!! (This is the voice of grim experience speaking as I forgot one once and it was very messy.)

Be aware that a fully heeled/grounded boat is a horrid place. Everything you thought was secure for your quiet afternoon cruise will fall out and downhill, making the inside chaos and nauseating. It is not pleasant if cold/wet messy. On the other hand, I have twice slept through the wait without problems - on the downhill side.

Be prepared to be very embarrassed - but don't take anyone's lines if they offer help. Only accept help if you (i) know them or (ii) they're the coast guard and (iii) they take your lines.

I have done this (ie gone fully over) in four boats (only two of them mine and the other two not my fault, and one of them a planned careen!) - the rising tide is not generally a problem, though (like bridges always looking too low) it will look frightening. A wind change putting you on a lee shore that bumps you further and further inland with increasing damage is far more worrisome.

Sounds like you did really well and all the necessary stuff to get you home and dry, and that's what really matters.
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:19   #12
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you might want to add a tap at the base of every through hull fitting, so you can close those up when needed (its good to have even if you are not running aground).
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:25   #13
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Some cruisers with full keel boats make supports out of steel conduit or similar. They attach to plywood pads to distribute pressure over the ground and some way attach to toe rail or chain plates , bulwarks or whatever. They carry them all the time for use if they want to carreen the boat for maintenance. With a boat your size you should have room to carry some. I suppose you would need at least 2 perhaps 4. Could save you money instead of haulouts for cleaning and bottom paint.
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:30   #14
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1)2) Beware if over a slope - make sure the mast will be facing the higher side of the slope,

and so on and forth - depending on the situation and the boat (a lifting keel or bilge keeler may just sit out the ebb and go on with next high water. b.
Actually running aground on a slope with a bilge keeler could be even worse. Lay a fin keel down on a flat sea bed and the mast is going to stick up at what? say 30 degrees. When the tide comes in up she comes with a few scratches. A bilge keeled yacht ought to be level give or take a bit.

However, on a steep slope the bilge keeler is going to be in real trouble. The keel which is aground stays put and the one in deep water will drop and the yacht leans over more than 90 degrees at which point it's really serious. We might survive starboard side down, but port side down the cockpit locker will flood and from there the rest of the hull. Pumps will be useless as they are in the wrong place.

How close did we come? well we leaned over about 10 degrees with our twin keels, but 3 yards away was a deep channel with a very steep slope.

Pete
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Old 12-09-2010, 15:33   #15
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Some cruisers with full keel boats make supports out of steel conduit or similar. Could save you money instead of haulouts for cleaning and bottom paint.
Yacht legs, very popular this side of the pond with our huge tidal ranges.

http://www.yachtlegs.co.uk/products/yachtlegs.php
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