Thursday, March 14, 2013

Stupid is as Stupid does

I laugh at other people's folly. Actually I do it a lot. Today is my turn. It started innocently enough. Kat and I want to be at Stingray point in Virginia on Friday so even though the wind was in the 25-30 range and the temp at freezing, we decided we had to go.

That was mistake #1.

We were in a nice marina but had little room to spare for our 6 ft draft. As I spun around to head for the channel out, we ran aground. Fortunately, we were able to back off and be on our way.
The wind was at our backs so we went with a main and no head sail. We made good time and assumed that later in the day we would simply see where we were and find a place in the area to stay.

That was mistake #2.

We found a place on the Patomac that sounded alright and made a reservation. Unfortunately, there were two marinas of the same name about 7 miles apart. We, of course, went to the wrong one and found it empty with no power. We tied off at the main dock and considered staying. In retrospect, that would have been the correct move. We decided to move on to another marina as we need power to run the furnace and someone hadn't bothered to check the propane tanks for the stove and heater.

That was mistake #3.

We called another marina on the St Mary's river about 5 miles away and took directions on how to approach. Well, as it turned out, the directions were not correct. We checked the charts and the gps and thought the channel described looked narrow with shallows on both sides. We rounded into the river and found ourselves fighting 25 mph winds on the nose and took the rest of the day getting to our destination. When we turned into the channel, we found ourselves aground dead center in the channel. We took someone else's direction over what we saw on the chart and didn't get actual coordinates to verify.

That was mistake #4

This time we weren't as lucky and had to call for a tow. The tow boat arrived about a hour and a half later well past dark and with a foot less water under us. With a lot of effort and minor damage to our pulpit we were again afloat and received an escort to the marina. We will have the boat pulled and the keel inspected soon. The marina ended up being a mile farther up the channel.

What we have taken from today is, even for a simple move down the coast, planning is everything and don't assume anything. We were simply moving our boat and found ourselves stuck out without a heat source because we didn't prepare properly. Simply checking the propane would have allowed us to either stay in the first vacant marina or wait for high tide to float back out. Double check everything. We assumed that the directions to the marina were correct and ended up stuck in the mud in the wrong channel.

Capt. Mike

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