. . . you’ll run aground. We’ve run aground a few times in very low risk situations. Taking a sailboat up the California Delta it’s pretty much inevitable, the bottom is very soft silty mud that has little probability of damaging your keel except for premature bottom paint wear. You may have also noted that we touched bottom in the Beaufort area due to not reading detailed charts. . . this is my point of concern.
As we make our way along our itinerary we’ll eventually find ourselves in areas where the consequences of running aground are much more than a bit of bottom paint. Recently a Lagoon 450, Ryana’s bigger sister, ran aground in the Bahamas and became a total loss. The captain’s reasoning for his mistake is the electronic charts he had loaded on his chartplotter indicated a potential route through two islands, in reality it’s a reef strewn area that folks find difficult passing in a dingy. This particular vessel and crew have significant sea miles between them and it’s likely they just got complacent in their route planning. I truly feel for these folks as it must be a horrible feeling seeing your vessel awash up to the coach top. . . everyone makes mistakes and I’ll learn from both mine and those I’m made aware of.
Diana and I have set a standard practice when sailing in new locations. . .
- Consult cruising guides focused on the area
- Compare various chart sources if area is known for having chart discrepancies
- Create route by reviewing paper charts
- Validate proposed route with each other
- Enter route waypoints on ship’s chartplotter
- Have crew member on bow to spot coral heads if needed
There is potential for our practice to get old and tired but maybe this picture will remind us why we go to this trouble.