They say you are not a true skipper until you admit that you have gone aground...Are you a true skipper?

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Oh, puh-leeeze! Been there, done that, done that, done that... (Shall I continue?)

I started sailing on Barnegat Bay, NJ -- skinny water, mostly, and managed to find the bottom there twice, even with my 3-foot-draft boat. Then I relocated to the Navesink River, so I could go sailling in Sandy Hook Bay, NY Harbor and LI Sound. The only problem turned out to be the spot in the Navesink where the channel abruptly ended for about 100 yards or so before resuming again. In between was an uncharted shoal, which I managed to find with disturbing frequency.

It was this nasty little bit of underwater topography that finally prompted me to do two things: take out unlimited towing insurance from BoatUS, and relocate my boat once again, this time to Jersey City. Let's hope the third time's the charm.
Doing the ICW, which weather made necessary, it's not a question of if, but of when. Fortunately, since I have TowboatUS, I've always been able to get off myself. Actually, there was one time in South Carolina in one of the cuts between rivers, where I met a barge at a bend, and intentionally went aground. I just look at as cleaning my keel !

Don't bother with towing insurance, unless you get the unlimited. If you only use it once every 3 years, it will more than pay for itself.
Where I come from, there is very little hope after running aground. The North East coast of Spain is rugged and rocky and very unforgiving to keels and rudders. I have, however run aground once, but it was in Connecticut, on perfectly soft sand, so I guess the answer is yes: I am a skipper, I have run aground and I am proud! ;-)
I'm really a true skipper once in the Bogue Sound, NC and once going into White Sound ,Green Turtle Gay
Abaco, Never asked for help I just walked on the bulkhead until tide came in. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Well, I was a 'true skipper' then the second time I took my boat out!

Weather report for the day was cold, but not much wind. And no rain, either. Right! We headed out and it was a bit chilly and a bit of rain. No problem - I get to try out my new foul weather gear (difference between a power boater and a sailor?....).

Understand, I'm on a small creek with a narrow channel out to the York River. Then there's a nice big shipping channel to take you to the Chesapeake Bay.

So, where was I? Oh, yeah. We head out. Wind picks up a bit, but not too badly. Make for an interesting ride, right? Well, we get out of the dock area and start following the markers to the York River. Hit aground. OK. Turn hard starboard and try again. Off the sand, straighten out, try again. Hit again. A bit harder this time. But same technique and we're out. Third time the crew moves to port side, I turn it hard, and we're off. Now the wind has picked up a bit more, and we're in crabpot territory.

For those who haven't sailed in the Chesapeake Bay, crabpots are our very own landmines. The crabbers put the traps down, theoretically in the more shallow water, with a line attached to a buoy. And there's dozens of them in an area. Problem is, you hit that buoy (about the size of a Clorox bottle), or end up on the wrong side of it, and you have that line wrapped around your prop.

So, I get through the landmines. Now the wind has picked up, the seas are a bit *too* choppy for a quick sail and we turn around. Luckily, only ran aground once on the way back! :-)
Over and over and over....................Since my sailing is currently on midwestern lakes and this area is 5 years into a drought, the lakes are all extremely shallow. Dandbars everywhere. Fortunately I'm sailing a trailer sailer and can just crank up the centerboard, back off, and try anothert direction. We do spend a fair amount of time pulling (sideways of course) the fixed keel boats in our club free however. Pray for rain in the midwest. It seems the whole rest of the country is getting it------just not us.
I'm a true skipper many times over, but my favorite grounding story happened while I was crewing for my Canadian friends aboard their 33' Abbott during a race on Lake St. Clair. It was a night race that began at 7pm and the wind had died after the first leg. We spent a long night telling jokes and barely maintaining a controlled drift until the next morning. The wind just never picked up, so we decided to take a DNF and head home.

A committee boat pulled alongside shortly after we fired up the engine and yelled to the skipper, "So, you're giving in, eh?" (Gotta love the Canadians!)

Skipper: "Yea, there's no wind, eh!"

Committee Boat: "Ya know yer in about four foot of water right now, eh?"

A half second after the words left his lips, "SLAM!!!" We stopped so suddenly as the fin dug into the mud that a few of us fell to the deck.

Skipper: "Yea. We're aground now, eh!"

We all roared!! It's one of those "You had to be there" moments, but we laughed out loud the whole time the committee boat was pulling us free and all of the way back to the club!
I laughed out loud on this one. Thanks for sharing! It sounds like you had a golden skipper moment even if your were crew. I have the funniest crew story too, but I need more time to share. I am off to explore Bonaire at the moment...
Bonaire? Ohhhhh!! Need crew? :)
I wish I were on my own boat in Bonaire...It was so beautiful. I will have to get the pictures posted. I would have loved to stay longer. Have you been there?
I did it many years ago, 1978, along the channel going into the Toledo harbor. They dredge the channel and dump the tailing along the side of the channel under water. You cannot see these unless the water is very low, usually after strong winds blow the lake waters to the East. The charts warn about the tailings but were not that accurate to the location. By the time the depth sounder told you they are there you are stuck on them. I was able to have the crew move to the stern and with my motor and boat hook pull and push off this.

I now have a GPS that shows the location of these a lot better than the paper charts of 30 years ago.
Does the beach count? ;-)


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