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Old 06-03-2023, 06:08   #1
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Grounded my boat

Well, I did it. Yeah, I'm a new sailor. I followed the charts and it happened to me in Coos Bay. We were going for a learning adventure, leaving the marina to anchor cook dinner and putter around. We were well within the channel, going about 5 knots I felt the boat suddenly slow down and jerk. No noise no crunching just a dead stop. Took me about 10 minutes to reverse her and move to the other side of the chanel and continue on my way. I was devistated. In the end not a scratch on her keel, no water. I went through all my track logs AIS, chart plotter etc. Talked to some local sailors and they all said there are two types of sailors, thoes that admit they have grounded and thoes that lie about it. Tell me your grounding stories, how it happens and lessons learned.
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Old 06-03-2023, 06:30   #2
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Re: Grounded my boat

No lies here, never ran aground,once in a low tide at anchor, just the bounce of the keel in a sandy bottom until hig tide.
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Old 06-03-2023, 06:31   #3
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Re: Grounded my boat

I want to hear more about yours. Can you show us the screenshot with the chart? Instead of the satellite?

but I will share mine. I have been doing this a really long time. My whole adult life.

there is only one time I ever touched the ground.

I was in the middle of the channel in the ICW and there was dredging going on. I don’t even remember what state it was.

for some reason I guess I was supposed to take a detour out of the channel. There was a big pile of sediment in the very center of the channel that I think they deposited there for some reason. Or maybe that’s why they were dredging. I don’t know. But there was a big hump of soft stuff right in the center of the channel of the ICW. I ran into it. Same as you. Pretty low speed. Boat came to a halt. It was so soft it didn’t even look like Star Trek when I touched it.

I just backed off of it and went around the long way outside of the channel.

other than that I am an extremely overly cautious navigator that only uses channels. I don’t take shortcuts. I don’t try to shave off anything. I don’t go into water that is supposedly the right depth for my boat unless it’s really deep. Otherwise I just use the channel because I know other people have gone through there so it must be clear.

So I’m going to say I’ve never run a ground. Except that there was a giant pile in the middle of the icw one time. that one’s a no fault of your own type of grounding I think.

The reason I’m like this is because of where I learned. I learn to sail in Maine. if you make a navigation error in Maine, it’s all rocks. You are probably going to lose your boat. There were no navigation errors allowed when I learned. And I have kept up with me my whole life.
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Old 06-03-2023, 06:37   #4
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Re: Grounded my boat

It depends a lot on where you sail and the consequences of grounding. Some places I am very careful.

But "sniffing the bottom" is routine in the Chesapeake. If you've never touched the mud, you are not very adventurous in seeking anchorages and smaller harbors. It's soft and nearly always harmless and uneventful. You do need to be mindful of obstructions (old pilings or sunken boats) and submerged trees. There are a few rock ledges.
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Old 06-03-2023, 06:38   #5
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Re: Grounded my boat

Several years ago I took ASA 104 in the SF Bay. We were practicing following depth contours (under power) and it was my turn at the helm, cruising at 6 or 7 knots along the east side of Tiburon. The instructor told me to cut around Bluff Point into Raccoon Strait, keeping a constant depth of I think 20 or 30 feet. As we approached, our conversation went something like:

Me: We're getting pretty close to those rocks, aren't we?

Instructor: What's your depth?

Me: 32 feet

Instructor: That's fine, it's deep here right up to the shore.

[10 seconds later -- WHAM!!!]

Instructor: Huh. That was *not* supposed to be there.

In the end, no leaks or major damage to the boat to my knowledge (though I'm guessing we took at least a few layers of paint off the bottom of the keel), but that day I learned a lesson about uncharted obstructions.
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Old 06-03-2023, 07:40   #6
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Re: Grounded my boat

Sooner or later every sailor runs aground. If you've never run aground, you are extremely lucky, or haven't sailed enough, or you are way too cautious. It's like a quarterback who claims he's never thrown an incomplete pass.

That's not to say you should navigate recklessly or without taking all reasonable precautions to avoid hitting bottom. It's just that even the most prudent and skilled sailor will occasionally bump the bottom.

Do not beat yourself up over this. It happens. Make it a "teaching moment". Figure out what happened and why it happened and learn from it. Then move on.

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Old 06-03-2023, 07:47   #7
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Re: Grounded my boat

We've grounded a few times, and touched lots. But our best one was when we came into a beautiful, remote harbour that we'd been in dozens of times.

We knew it like the back of our hands, so no need to look at the charts, or even pay much attention to the depth sounder...

You can guess what happened .
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Old 06-03-2023, 07:48   #8
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Re: Grounded my boat

I agree with the comments that if you’ve never run aground, you are VERY cautious (which is understandable in rocky areas like New England). We cut our teeth sailing in Long Island Sound and now we cruise full-time on our Bristol 29.9 up and down the U.S. East Coast and the Bahamas.

Have we run aground? Yep - a handful of times, typically when we’re pushing the envelope to get into that sweet spot that no one else will try. But that’s only when we’re away from New England. We never push the envelope in New England. Sand and mud on a rising tide when you’re moving slowly? No big deal. Rocks? Very big deal.

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Old 06-03-2023, 08:32   #9
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Re: Grounded my boat

Originally Posted by Takitimu View Post
Well, I followed the charts and it happened to me in Coos Bay.
Yep, close by Coos Bay, going into Charleston.
~04:00hrs. in the fog, made the starboard turn off the main channel a bit late.
It was the very last of the ebb, boat going ~1Kt., didn't even know it at first.
Realized that instead of the boat going thru the water, the water was going by the boat.
Put out an anchor, waited for the tide, and then when the sun burned-off the fog I could see that I was only a couple of boat lengths from the channel with my slip in sight.
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Old 06-03-2023, 08:36   #10
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Re: Grounded my boat

The last time I ran aground it was essentially on purpose.

Bringing a boat with an 8.5 ft draft up the coast, I couldn't get into the boat's home harbor in Santa Cruz because the entrance was silted in. So I tried Moss Landing, where the entrance with the waves is deep enough, but the slip areas are slowly silting in. I called the harbor office and told them I had 8.5 ft draft and a 40 ft boat and my ETA was 3 pm which was dead low tide of -1.5 ft. They said sure they have a slip, and gave me one in the back of the harbor (where the chart says 7 ft at zero tide). I said are you sure I can get in? They said no problem.

I come in on time, and am OK until I turn out of the main channel into a branch channel. Knowing what was likely to happen, I was going under 2 knots and hugging the dock side of the channel because I have been told before that it is the deepest. Sure enough, we slid to a stop 200 yards from the slip. I tried to back off, but the boat pulls left in reverse, and the boat rotated across the narrow channel, effectively blocking it. There was a big commercial fishing boat coming the other way, so I put the boat in forward and turned back parallel to the channel. The fisherman maneuvered around me with no issues, but I was done for until the tide came in.

After half an hour the boat owner arrived, and I told him our situation. He went to the office and asked if they had a deeper slip available. They said no, and rented him the original slip. He walked down the dock to where we were, but couldn't get within 100 feet of us because there were 50 sea lions on the docks which he was unable to move. I told him to borrow a hose, which usually works, but he couldn't find one and went back to the office. A bit later a harbor work boat comes out with the owner on board. They sound around us and confirm that we were in the deepest part of the channel and it gets even shallower further on. There was an open end tie behind us, but there were another 50 sea lions on the way to that one. We finally settled on a 70 ft slip which was off the main channel that we could use overnight.

It was time to celebrate the end of the delivery, so we opened a bottle of champagne and consumed it. It was then 1.5 hours after low tide, so I was able to back off and into the main channel. We found the empty slip, but sure enough we slid to a stop a third of the way in. I powered us through the mud to where we could tie up. We took another hour to unload and put the boat away, then I plowed mud until we could hook up the shore power.

This is not the first or second time I have encountered problems by believing harbor masters. When you have a draft over 8 ft, you find that many harbors are dredged for 6 ft boats. I knew I wasn't going to get any relief from the harbor until I proved there was a depth problem. I also knew that if I was patient, I eventually had 7 ft of incoming tide to work with and if I wasn't patient the keel could lose a little bottom paint.
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Old 06-03-2023, 10:09   #11
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Re: Grounded my boat

Aground in what? Different boats, different meanings. I've run aground dozens of times.

I was probably 12 years old when I was at the helm of a runabout and hit a sandbar at speed, dinging up the prop. I was under the tutelage of my parents and, in the moment, was considered culpable because I hadn't turned hard enough when told to turn away from shore. Limped back to the dock and spent most of the day trying to find a replacement prop before coming across three brand new spares in the closet; the cabin and the boat both belonged to my uncle.

That was shortly before depth sounders were widely installed on private boats.

I used to take fishing boats out on Bowstring Lake, which is connected to Sand Lake by Sand Creek. In high water years, Sand Creek would be barely deep enough to motor between them. There would be a certain amount of, "polishing" the prop and skeg.

I have a lot of scratches on the bottom of my canoe. Sometimes I've had to get out and walk and pull the canoe.

I have a 14' aluminum boat with a 9.9 hp motor that I use for various purposes, among them river explorations. It has run aground numerous times on sand, mud, rocks, trees, and has also been deliberately beached. All at low speed. At times we have used oars or a pole to push it over shallow areas.

Sailboats, I sail my dinghy into shore so I suppose that's grounding it.

My 26' Hunter had a centerboard. Like most centerboard boats there's quite a bit of draft with the board down. I hit a number of rocks with the board, and the board swung back down. I would also anchor in 4' water to allow people to swim off the stern who were not comfortable in deep water. It was not uncommon for the bottom profile to result in us being in shallower water while setting the anchor or as a result of swing, and sometimes we would be shallow enough that with the board up we would still, "polish" the skeg on the outboard.

My Tartan draws 5'4" and I haven't hit anything with it. My day will come.
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Old 06-03-2023, 10:33   #12
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Re: Grounded my boat

I've run around 4 or 5 times. First time was in Wrightsville Beach, NC. There is a spot on the ICW where the AC comments say to hug the docks, and apparently I didn't hug them well enough. I got off on my own just swinging the boat left and right. I made it on the second pass by staying like 10 feet from the docks.

The other 3 times were within a hour of each other at Matanzas inlet. I tried to follow the same track through on my previous trip, but unfortunately I was coming through at dead low tide and because the current rips through there, there was no option to take it slow. I was well within the channel but still hit sandbars three times. That time, I managed to get off by raising the jib and heeling the boat over.
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Old 06-03-2023, 10:37   #13
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Re: Grounded my boat

Yeah. I am going to be 1000% more cautious. I'm on a 50' Oyster sailboat 7.5' foot draft.. everyone around here says it's all soft mud in the area I grounded in, and I did all the right things to get out. They were surprised as a new boat owners I wasn't on the phone with boatus panicking. Just super glad it was not disastrous. After I got to the dock in Charleston I enjoyed a single Tito's neat
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Old 06-03-2023, 10:41   #14
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Re: Grounded my boat

Pretty easy to get into the muck around Charleston Marina. I've done it a couple times in that area and I have a much shallower draft with the Fiberform. Super gooey, no rocks from my experience, and no damage.
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Old 06-03-2023, 10:41   #15
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Re: Grounded my boat

I had a very hard grounding which fortunately didn't have a bad ending. I was in Fiji, following waypoints provided by a famous local who ensured that they were safe. Of, course, I am still keeping a close watch, sailing during midday, etc.

I am going about 5kts under motor. There is a lookout on the bow, but the water is very muddy, and we can't see anything. We are a good ways from the shore, maybe 1/2 a mile, in about 50 feet of water. I see way ahead of us waves breaking over a reef. Right on the course of our waypoints. I check both Navionics and CM93 charts. Both show reefs in the area, but don't agree where, and not where we were or where we were headed. But I knew we were headed to one because I could see it, even if it was still off in the distance.

So I decide to abort and stop, and plot a new course around. Just as I am reaching for the throttle to slow, bang. Dead stop. The bow dips under water we stopped so hard. All the crew gets thrown down. At this point, we are on a reef, and as the swell comes, I feel the boat lift off just an inch or so and thud back down.

I manage to back off, with lots of scraping noises. We make way to shore where we quickly anchor to assess the damage. I was quite sure at this point I would loose the boat. I hit a reef full on at 5 kts., that is BAD. I dive on the boat and inspect everything. My boat has an encapsulated keel, no keel bolts. So I inspect where the keel meets the hull, looking for cracks. I find none. The only indication of anything, was a small nick and indentation, about the size of a quarter, on the leading edge of the keel, about 2 inches from the bottom. No sign of the skeg having touched at all.

This was when I learned the value of Satellite maps. It wasn't until I reached Vuda marina that other sailors shared them with me, and I saw how much better they were than official charts. Having had them a week earlier, the incident never would have happened.

Of course, I have touched bottom both before and after that, but nothing dramatic. Usually when I touch it is known it will happen, as a result of tides with soft mud, or entering a marina at low tide, etc. And while if I get another boat I would look for a fin keel/spade rudder, I can attest to the value of a boat with no keel bolts and a skeg rudder.
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