Sunday, May 5, 2013

Running Aground:What happened and what to do

So I was sailing on a friends boat today. She just bought into a boat share which is nice but she does not have much experience running this boat nor in the area that her new marina is. She is good crew but normally does not skipper. She made a mistake which was novice and ran aground. Her novice mistake was failing to keep the green channel marker on her right while leaving the channel and thus going into a shallow area. Remember the saying is
"Green when going
Red right return"
That means you need the green markers on your right when going out and red markers on the right when returning back to the dock. This rule applies in North America but not Europe.

So what to do when you run aground? Well it is a lot better when you ground on muck like we did.
If you ground
1. Assess to make sure no crew hurt themselves and that no water is coming in the hull. If good then:
2. Figure out where the deeper water is.
3. If lightly aground you may be able to slowly go in reverse and unground. Be careful to not overheat your engine and gun it reversing can bring muck into the engine and cause overheating.
4. You can in a sailboat move the boat weight  to heeling on one side to allow the keel to raise up and not drag and thus get off the ground as in sailboats the keel is usually the lowest part.
5. You can kedge ie throw the anchor off in direction of deep water and use it to pull yourself in that direction and then do this again and again until you are in deep water.
6. You can wait for the tide to rise.
7. If you have a dingy you can use the dingy to pull or to get the anchor out further for kedging.
8. Hail a friendly boat to help you tow out or call SeaTow or Towboat US.

We used a combo of 1-4 to get off this time and then continued on for a nice remaining sail.
But the best thing is to avoid running aground all together as you are much safer. I know friends who have been in  serious accidents and done major boat damage when their vessels ran aground.

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