High and dry on the rocks


By Ilene Little

Ever have one of those moments where you hope no one saw what just happened? That is how this captain must have felt when he stubbed his toe on this rock at high tide only to discover just how hard aground he was when the tide went out. Running aground happens to nearly everyone at some point in their boating career, but rarely so dramatically as in this picture where the boat is perched on what looks like a mountain peak.

The captain keeps an eye on the waves as the tide comes in.

The captain keeps an eye on the waves as the tide comes in.

In the meantime, you may as well mend some nets while you wait for the tide to come in. Maybe onlookers will think you meant to be where you ended up –high and dry on the rocks.

As humiliating as it is to be in this situation, the worst of it is the danger of the rising tide when sufficiently strong swells or waves may cause the boat to bounce and lead to holes.

Running hard aground on rocks is especially stressful if the boat is a monohull sailboat with a deep-draft keel. A monohull is a sailboat with one hull, as opposed to a catamaran or trimaran design which consists of two or three hulls respectively.

As the tide recedes, monohull boats can tip over on their sides and are, therefore, vulnerable to waves jumping the gunwales.

One advantage of a monohull sailboat is being able to use the top of the masthead as a leverage point to pull the boat momentarily further on its side in an attempt to lift the keel enough to float the boat off the rocks. “Kedging” a boat off the rocks is a tricky maneuver. Trying to float a boat as the tide falls is a race against time. Done incorrectly you can drag the boat further aground and end up shipwrecked. A span of minutes can determine a boat’s fate.

Luckily for this captain, the boat floated free without sustaining any significant damage.


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