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Old 20-07-2021, 12:27   #61
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

Pete 7 - curious if your bow thruster helped to get you out to the puddle starboard of you??

I draw 3ft 10 inches with the board up and have dragged bottom this season, once while in my slip at low, low tide here in New England, CT. Each season now I experiment with our channel to the town harbor, going out at low/low tide, but on the verge of incoming, and seeing if I drag/run aground as the channel shoals over a few yrs after dredging. its all mud so no risk of damage. Also dont do this "braille" sailing when its blowing over 10knots as I dont want to end up on shore. I start to sweat when transponder is trending up and w/in 3-4 ft of my bottom in unfamiliar waters as we have alot of rock here in long island sound.
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Old 20-07-2021, 12:57   #62
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

Depends what you're used to.
The Swamp of Quinte it's not unusual to leave a black streak of stirred up loon s**t behind and having to reverse hard repeatedly to shake the weeds off.
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Old 20-07-2021, 14:26   #63
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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My most serous butt clinching in the Bahamas was taking the inside route (by Musha Cay) down the Exumas, in a sailboat drawing five feet of water and seeing the depth gauge read 5' at high tide (what there was of it)!

My wife kept asking how much water we had. I kept saying, you don't want to know!

And, we didn't even see David Copperfield.
Me too, exact same route past the Pimlico's - twice - once with the wind blowing 25 knots. Crazy shallow. My depth sounder read 0 for quite a long time, which convinced me I had a good 3" to 6" of error in my depth offset ( I left it as is). The positive was it broke my fear of shallow water - heck, 3 years in the Bahamas totally changed my perspective on what "shallow" is.

It was this day:
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Old 20-07-2021, 14:42   #64
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

my experience has been that a skipper with a boat that has a 6' draft will run aground in 6' of water...
same skipper with a 5' draft boat will run aground in 5' of water...
ditto 4' draft in 4' of water..etc
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Old 20-07-2021, 14:52   #65
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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my experience has been that a skipper with a boat that has a 6' draft will run aground in 6' of water...
same skipper with a 5' draft boat will run aground in 5' of water...
ditto 4' draft in 4' of water..etc
This is true.

I avoid the shallows. There’s a shortcut out of the harbor many take, but I don’t unless it is high tide (we have big swings). You have to cross a 7’ bar at low tide. Had a guy always rib me for it. He ended up clipping his keel on something real hard when he should’ve had 2 feet below the keel.
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Old 20-07-2021, 16:16   #66
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

The marina where we are members and where we haul out usually sees us with half a foot under the keel in anything other than the high tide. It's mud and we churn it up a bit.
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Old 20-07-2021, 18:06   #67
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

oh yeah...the B'mas is a great shallow water teacher.....my first trip there was nail biting....the water is so clear..you can see EVERYTHING....when you are used to sailing in muddy water.....the ICW for instance you never know what's down there or ahead of you, you can keep an eye on your depth sounder is about all you can do.
The B'mas gives you visual enhancements. After a while, you learn to " read" the water and a depth sounder is not really needed per se.....besides, the bottom is often " hilly"...ie, it might be 7' in one spot and 6' in the spot 2' away....etc.....after you've cruised there for a while, you'll come to understand that 10' is " deep' water...
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Old 21-07-2021, 05:14   #68
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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Me too, exact same route past the Pimlico's - twice - once with the wind blowing 25 knots. Crazy shallow. My depth sounder read 0 for quite a long time, which convinced me I had a good 3" to 6" of error in my depth offset ( I left it as is). The positive was it broke my fear of shallow water - heck, 3 years in the Bahamas totally changed my perspective on what "shallow" is.

It was this day:
Yeah, I don't know if being able to clearly see the bottom makes it better or worse.
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Old 21-07-2021, 06:42   #69
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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Originally Posted by MicHughV View Post
my experience has been that a skipper with a boat that has a 6' draft will run aground in 6' of water...

same skipper with a 5' draft boat will run aground in 5' of water...

ditto 4' draft in 4' of water..etc
A correlary to this is that there is a tendency to run aground more often in a shoal draft boat because you are more cautious in a deeper draft vessel !
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Old 21-07-2021, 08:05   #70
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

you are probably familiar with the saying:

there are only two types of sailors....

1. Those that have run aground.
2. Those that will run aground...

there is actually a 3rd : Sailors that have run aground, but lie about it.
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Old 21-07-2021, 16:17   #71
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

I have read only the first and last pages here, so someone may have already observed that sailing (or powering) at higher speeds will suck boat down, especially the stern.

I have sailed fast over a shoal, and it was the rudder (maybe 3-4" higher than the keel) that bottomed out.

The QE2 learned this lesson near Nantucket.
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Old 21-07-2021, 16:26   #72
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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Like almost everything...it depends.

Crossing a shallow bar in calm conditions...an inch is as good as a mile.

Crossing a shallow bar in rough conditions...not so much.

Sailing in a shallow, well protected bay, with minimal wave action and a soft bottom with local knowledge...Id been be willing to cut it pretty damn close.


This. Give me light wind flat water and a soft or sandy bottom, I’ll sail with inches under the keel. Throw in chop or a swell and things change.
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Old 21-07-2021, 20:40   #73
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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Yeah, I don't know if being able to clearly see the bottom makes it better or worse.
We did the Devil's Backbone without a pilot. The trip in was perfectly calm and you could see the reefs clearly. On the way out it was stormy and heavy seas. The breaks over the reefs were even clearer to read.

But now that I look at the OP's original post, it's "SAIL" in. Now that for me is different. In the Bahamas, I'd need at least two feet but would search out at least 4. Anywhere else, dang, I hate to admit it but probably over 6 and I'd prefer 10.

Nope, I had to go back on edit and add that actually when I'm under sail I'm a real sissy. I stay pretty far away from hard sharp objects below and above the surface.
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Old 23-07-2021, 10:14   #74
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Re: What’s the minimum depth you would sail in?

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We did the Devil's Backbone without a pilot. The trip in was perfectly calm and you could see the reefs clearly. On the way out it was stormy and heavy seas. The breaks over the reefs were even clearer to read.

But now that I look at the OP's original post, it's "SAIL" in. Now that for me is different. In the Bahamas, I'd need at least two feet but would search out at least 4. Anywhere else, dang, I hate to admit it but probably over 6 and I'd prefer 10.

Nope, I had to go back on edit and add that actually when I'm under sail I'm a real sissy. I stay pretty far away from hard sharp objects below and above the surface.
We traded our five foot draft sailboat for a four foot draft powerboat, and we're a lot more conservative now. Before, when we hit, it was just a huge chunk of lead being drug over the bottom. Now, it's rudders and props!

And, I admit, we chickened out from running the Devil's Backbone, the last time we were in Eleuthera. But, now, I kind of wish we had tried it.
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