What is the Best Way to Avoid Running aground?
You should slow down whenever you think running aground might be a possibility, not only would reducing your speed minimize your stopping distance, but it will also reduce the chance of hitting bottom, which may cause damage to your boat or motor system.
Besides being prepared, knowing how to avoid running aground is essential for boaters. Knowing your maneuvering speed and stopping distance are essential to avoid running aground. Here are some tips for boaters:
Ways To Avoid Running Aground
In most cases, hitting the bottom is possible, but like other regular boating accidents, it may be avoided. The key is situational awareness, and keeping a proper lookout is the most important thing you can do.
No matter how attentive or careful you are, running aground is always dangerous; yet, you may try your best to avoid that by following a few basic guidelines.
Keeping an Appropriate Lookout
The crucial safety reason for keeping a proper watch when operating your boat is to ensure that you don’t hit anything, even the bottom. You might be able to see color shifts in some waterways with relatively clear water where shoals or shallow weed beds are present.
You might not be able to see a visible color shift in some rivers with poor visibility, but you might notice changes in wave patterns. And in many places, depending on the weather, you may either see a bank or detect its existence through the waves.
You can learn about locations where you can travel safely without running aground by watching where other boats are heading. Any old boat at a spot doesn’t necessarily mean you can get there, as different boats have varying draughts.
However, if you’re riding on a small boat and you spot a larger cruising sailboat, for instance, you may be sure that the route they have taken is safe for you to follow, too, if you’re looking at a boat with a deeper draught.
Using a depth finder
Using a depth finder is an excellent way to stay safe on the water, even if you’re in waters that you’re not familiar with. The best depth finders can detect objects in three dimensions (or three-dimensional space) beneath the waves. The depth finder also provides fish location information. A depth finder will ensure you won’t run aground in an unfamiliar area.
A depth finder is an excellent tool to help prevent a run-aground by sending an alarm to the boat if it detects a shallow area. However, it’s not a substitute for a properly trained lookout. The best approach to avoid running aground is to be vigilant and use advanced navigation tools to prevent a potential run-aground.
While using charts is essential, they can’t prevent you from running aground. A strong storm can cause sand bars to shift, channels to fill in, and muddy bottoms to change. Therefore, it’s crucial to use digital charts when possible. A depth finder can also help you navigate tricky areas, such as rock shoals. If you’re uncomfortable using a depth finder, ask a boater to help you.
Regardless of the type of waterway, you’re traveling in, it’s possible to hit bottom. While the chances of a run-aground are low in most waterways, you can prevent this disaster by keeping a proper lookout. Keeping a proper lookout is vital for your safety if you’re on a small boat.
Update Your Charts Regularly
Even if the charts indicate you shouldn’t, it’s crucial to remember that you can utilize a chart or chart plotter and still run aground. This is because bottom contours are constantly liable to change, channels may fill in, and sand bars may move. This is particularly true in areas with sandy or muddy bottoms following severe rains. Because of this, it’s crucial to keep your charts current and to update the digital charts in your chart plotter frequently.
Having an app for marine navigation on your phone might also be helpful because these apps typically feature databases with up-to-date charts. Some can also show layers of crowd-sourced data that illustrate where other boaters have found errors in the charts.
Using a dinghy
Using a dinghy as a tow can save your boat from a run aground. The dinghy’s blunt bow can break the suction on a grounding, so you must remove heavy items before moving your boat. Then, nudge your dinghy’s bow into the side of the grounded boat’s bow. Make sure you are far enough forward to pivot the grounded boat around.
The dinghy can be used to remove the weight of a grounded boat, which will be a big help if the wind is blowing. Of course, you should only try this method if you’re sure there’s no danger to your passengers or crew. Moreover, it’s risky to try it if the seas are rough, and you need to weigh your options after you’ve been stranded.
You can also use a dinghy to avoid running aground when a dinghy is used as a tow. First, if you run aground on a rocky shore, ensure the anchor is not in the water. Also, ensure to anchor far away from the boat to prevent any damage to the hull. In a worst-case scenario, if you run aground on a rocky shore, you should immediately try to radio for help. Secondly, you should check for leaks and damage if you’ve already run aground. Lastly, if you have passengers aboard, they can push the dinghy into deeper water.
Another important tip when using a dinghy to avoid a run aground is to slow down when approaching a rocky bottom. Doing so will reduce the chances of hitting bottom and minimize the distance you must travel to avoid a run aground. It’s better to be a bit late than to be late. The extra time is worth your peace of mind, knowing that your dinghy will save your life.
When it’s possible, try to keg off in warmer waters. Running aground in bay water can be dangerous, and a pull line can’t always be relied on. Try to get another boat to create a wake to lift your dinghy off a sand shoal. If you’re on a rock shoal, this may not be a viable option.
Using a kedge anchor
While using a kedge anchor is the best option to avoid running aground, there are some disadvantages to using this type of anchor. For one thing, you may run aground in an area with rocky reefs and shallows. Then, your next anchorage might be two hours away! Therefore, using a kedge anchor in such a situation is essential.
Once you’ve kedged out of a mud pit, there are a few methods to get you and your boat back on the water. The first method is to back away from the grounded boat. Use the oar to shift weight away from the area of impact. Second, you should check the area to see if there’s water in the hole. Alternatively, you can use a kedge anchor to yank yourself out. You can yank it out with a PFD and an anchor line if you’re on a dinghy.
Another method for avoiding running aground is reducing the drag on the boat by reducing the weight on board. This technique works particularly well if you’re sailing downwind. When a kedge isn’t enough, you’ll have to get a tow from another boat or a dinghy. Luckily, most dinghy sailors can kedge off using a windlass.
To properly rig a kedge anchor, you’ll need a short chain attached to a long warp. A cleat in the dinghy’s stern will hold the other end of the warp. Then, drop the anchor in the desired direction and use the cockpit winch or anchor windlass to pull the boat off. Another way is to use a dinghy to drop a kedge anchor and flake it in the stern. You’ll need to watch the wind to ensure it is not a snag.
If you run aground, you should be able to communicate with the Coast Guard or a marine patrol agency. However, the Coast Guard will not come to your assistance unless the situation is immediately life-threatening. Instead, they’ll contact a commercial tower or an individual who can provide you with assistance. If you can’t do so yourself, use a dinghy to avoid further grounding.
Using alternating bursts of power from either side of your boat
If you find yourself surrounded by sand and muck, one of the most effective ways to avoid running aground is to use two engines to break the suction. The engine on the far side of the boat can turn back and forth and break the sand and muck’s hold. The other engine can be turned forward to help the boat turn and slip free.
If you’re unsure of the depth of the water, use a depth finder to alert you to shallow waters. However, remember that this tool should never replace your attention. It is only meant to assist you in getting a general idea of where and where you’re going. Never rely on the depth finder alone to avoid running aground.
While on the water, be sure to check the passengers for injuries. Even though relying on your personal boating knowledge might be tempting, a jolting incident can cause passengers to fall and hurt themselves. In addition to that, items could become projectiles and cause serious injury. Knowing how to avoid running aground is essential before heading out on the water.
Aside from using alternating bursts of power from each side of the boat to avoid running aground, you should also be aware of your surroundings. Always be alert to dangerous buoys and unmarked shoals and sandbars. A momentary lapse of attention can lead to an unintended straying off course and getting firmly stuck in the mud. In such cases, the right maneuver within the first few minutes of a grounding can mean the difference between getting off and damaging your boat.
Best Way to Avoid Running aground?
Running aground is a nautical term that refers to the situation when a ship runs over rocks, on barnacles, or shoals in shallow water. It could also be called grounding because it usually happens on land but it can happen at sea too.
It can cause severe damage to the ship, but it’s important to know what the best way is of avoiding running aground like this. Here are a few ways that will keep you from crashing hard:
1) Keep your eyes open when going through fog banks and make sure you see where your steering. Also, be sure to send an extra person ahead of the ship to make sure you’re on course.
Know your charts so you know if there are any landmarks or rocks that could be a hazard along your route and don’t steer close to them. When it comes to water depth and whether or not the water is shallow enough for your ship we use a device called a lead line.
This line is attached to the end of a long pole or weight and it’s lowered into the water until it hits bottom and then given back up, reading how deep the spot is where the bottom lay.
2) Keep an eye on buoyed channels, making sure they are not dragging their anchors or changing positions.
Remember to Consider the Tides
If you’re boating in a tidal location, keep in mind that you must also consider the tides. The letters “MLW,” which means ” low water,” indicate the depths you see on a chart. This is essentially an average of the depth at low tide for a particular area. Because tides vary weekly and month to month, an average must be utilized. Also, always keep in mind that weather conditions and powerful winds can have a significant impact on tidal changes.
It is simple to understand why being in deep water while following the charts does not necessarily ensure that you won’t run around off course. Instead, it’s a strategy that, along with the others we’ve discussed thus far, belongs in your grounding-avoidance toolbox.