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  1. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    I guess running (seriously) aground is sort of like that. After the first time, the next is apt to come a lot sooner and not seem like such a big deal. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

    The morning after our excellent Cumberland Island adventure, we woke to a dull and dispiriting day with plenty of rain in the forecast so we ran back up to Brunswick Landing Marina, one of our favorites and spent three nights there waiting out the weather. We rented a car and, among other errands, tracked down a copy of the book about the woman we saw zoom by on her ATV at Cumberland Island. If you have any interest in this part of the world, or any interest in anything at all that is a cracking good story, you must read this book. “Untamed” by Will Harlan.

    We left Brunswick in raw cold with no good justification than just a general itch to be going somewhere after two days of rain and three evenings at Tipsy McSway’s, our favorite bar on the whole waterway. It was a cold and dreary run up to the entrance of the South Altamaha River where we anchored for a windy evening in a nicely protected spot just off Buttermilk Sound (Just before Marker R216A of you are looking at a chart).

    We were up early the next morning to run through the Little Mud River, considered one of the worst problem stretches on the entire ICW by Cruiser’s Net. We went through at exact MLW and only saw the sounder dip briefly under six feet by a couple inches in one spot.

    The forecast was for gusts up to 30 and heavy rain for the next couple of days and it looked very plausible when we came out into Sapelo Sound. An hour long fight across the sound in worsening conditions mixed with ocean swells to end up in a not perfectly protected anchorage seemed like a bad choice so we headed up the Sapelo River past Fourmile Island to anchor in the lee of Sutherland Bluff where we spent the next day and two nights listening to wind and rain hunkered down reading in Strider’s warm dry cabin. How anyone cruises without a big, hot, fuel burning stove in the cabin is beyond me.

    Just before G “5”, where the river channel narrows between shoals on either side, the depth sounder dropped suddenly to considerably less than charted. I knew that was going to be a challenge on the way out. This morning, the same tide level that we had coming in was going to be uncomfortably late in the day. The wind was light and the tide was rising so I decided to see if I could find a channel around the shallow spots we passed over on the way in.

    We left about an hour after low and I thought I could see where the deeper water was. Nope. We stuck fast. I waited a bit and then tried nosing around and plowing to see if I could find a channel. Nope. Stuck fast. I read another chapter of my book, fired up the engine, and shoved over a couple of humps into deeper wate…. Nope, stuck fast again. Read another chapter. As soon as Strider felt a bit alive again, I tried again. We gradually worked our way a couple hundred feet over a couple of hours.

    Finally, she started moving about half a knot and kept going. I had the strange sensation of feeling that I was driving a vehicle on land as we plowed and skidded over sand waves and humps and then the depth sounder numbers began to go up. Soon, we were fully a boat again and on our way across the sound.

    I’ll plead that this was a technical grounding only since I could easily have avoided it by waiting until the same tide level and following my inbound track. I knew it was a long shot getting out but it got us back on the ICW at the earliest possible moment, I got some good experience with handling a semi floating boat that should help if I’m ever similarly stuck in a bad spot, and I now know that there is nothing growing on the bottom of my keel.

    We’re now anchored in Walberg Creek off Saint Catherin’s Island with warmer weather ahead.

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
  2. Ron20324


    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    6,100 posts, 538 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Annapolis MD
    Roger, is the bottom of your keel fin, bulb, wing? Glad to see it is working out for you.

  3. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,913 posts, 599 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Think I might try that to "clean" the bottom of my keel. LOL

  4. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    It's an early generation fin keel. The E32 was originally a keel / centerboard boat so the keel is over a foot wide on the bottom. It is also dead flat and level fore and aft. That makes a big skidding surface so I think she slides semi-floating better than most boats.

    OTOH there have been cases of these boats grounding and remaining upright. I've seen a photo of one with the entire hull except for about a foot of keel out of the water. Obviously a precarious situation.

    On my first trip, I tied up at the shipyard in St. Marys assurred that much larger and deeper craft had done so. I woke up heeling over and had to go out at O dark thirty and run a halyard to the next pier until the tide came back in. The more conventional keels that had berthed there before me just sank into the mud. Mine, with all its surface area, held the boat on top.

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