Aground. Kind of.

One of the mantras of boating is that there are two types of people: those who have gone aground and those who won’t admit going aground. John photographed the boat below from our marina and there’s no denying that it was firmly aground. As the tide ebbed, it rested on its port side just west of the entrance to Swan Creek where the charted depth is 2 feet. Only a small boat with a retractable keel could make it through without touching bottom.

Aground

Aground

So far we have only kind of gone aground. When rounding Eastern Neck Island over Memorial Day Weekend I tried to cut an angle off of my plotted course around a buoy. The chart gave the depth as 7 feet so I thought we would be fine with our 5’3” draft. I watched as the depth sounder read 6 feet, then 5 feet, then 4’9” when I felt the bump. More than a bump, really. I’m pretty certain that I felt the keel plow through the soft (fortunately) bottom. I released the sails and allowed the wind to turn the boat around the way we came in.

Catalina 30s were designed with either a fin keel or a wing keel. If we had a wing keel, because of the “wing” extending horizontally at the bottom, we probably would have become more firmly grounded. On the other hand, because wing-keeled boats have reduced draft, we might not have gone aground at all. The trade-off for the ability to “plow” through a soft bottom is that we have to be very careful about our depth and gunkholing is not an option. By seeing 4’9” on our display we were able to confirm that the depth sounder offset on our boat is currently set at six inches – not much of a safety net.

The unfortunate boat in the picture would have to wait for high tide to float off the bar and that wasn’t for another 9 hours. A power boat attempted to pull it off, but was unsuccessful. I suspect that the good Samaritan only succeeded in making things worse since the sailboat listed to port even more than before the attempt.

Aground

Aground. Really.

Our neighbor reminded me not to be too critical as it is easy to blow off course in that location if the winds are from a certain direction. I should not be too critical because someday my “kind of” will change to “did.”

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3 Responses to “Aground. Kind of.”

  1. Rich A. Says:

    Bummer, that boat looks like a Coronado 25, like mine. The windows, the shear, the way the lifelines are run and the lack of a side deck are all just like my boat.

    I hope he got off without any damage. They only draw 3’8″ unless you have the CB which is even less.

  2. the check is cut Says:

    topic super

  3. all three Says:

    Thank you for a great post.

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